Game Review

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Stuart Reddick

Blitzed.

Let's first clarify that we're big Super Monkey Ball fans. Ever since playing the original on the GameCube we've been totally convinced of the varied and addictive gameplay the series had to offer. We thoroughly enjoyed the minigames such as Monkey Target and thought that the game provided the perfect balance between both solid gameplay and party type “quick blast” fun. Imagine our excitement when we learned Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz was one of the first releases on the Nintendo Wii!

The Wii controls should be perfect for a game like Super Monkey Ball: you tilt the Remote down to roll forwards and twist it side-to-side to turn corners. It should be the most intuitive thing in the world, but the thing is - it just doesn’t work.

In the original Gamecube game the analogue stick controlled the speed of the Monkey Ball: the more you pushed forward, the faster your ball would accelerate. This is something which just doesn’t happen in Banana Blitz, because even if you were to point your Remote directly at the ground, your ball still won't roll any faster - and that's ignoring the fact that pointing the Remote at the ground means putting your arm into a horrible position.

Turning doesn’t feel entirely comfortable either as twisting can lay some unnecessary pressures upon your wrist. We played Banana Blitz for about an hour and came out of it with a serious case of arm ache. The whole control of Banana Blitz feels a bit like Twister for the arm as you’re constantly putting it into unnatural positions. It's a shame the controller couldn't be held sideways (like a NES controller) and tilted about that way, as this would feel a lot more natural and take away any risk of RSI.

It’s such a shame that the game doesn’t control as well as it should because what is on offer here is a really good Super Monkey Ball game, with varied levels and environments balancing skill and frustration perfectly. There are 80 levels on offer in total and each environment is nicely designed with colourful and richly-rendered graphics.

The big change in the gameplay to Banana Blitz (aside from the horrible controls) is the ability to make your monkey jump. By tapping the (A) button your monkey will provide a small leap, unlocking a whole new plethora of gameplay methods in terms of discovering shortcuts and reaching bunches of bananas.

Not just that, but Banana Blitz also provides you with 50 mini-games all of which are based on different methods of using the Wii Remote. Now needless to say at least 45 of these mini-games are pretty poor: just as Sega were unable to get to grips with the controls for the main game of Banana Blitz, most of the mini-games simply don’t work.

It’s not that the mini-games are bad in themselves; it’s just that Sega didn’t think about the controls enough. Sure they want to show off what the Wii Remote can do, and it's great that a developer aside from Nintendo wants to make use of the Remote in interesting ways, but they should make sure that the controls actually work first. For example, a simple ring toss game which has you throwing a ring onto stumps is made virtually impossible due to the complexity of the movements required.

Classic minigames such as Monkey Target also just simply don’t feel right and the only minigames that excel are ones such as Asteroid Crush, which requires you using the Wii Remote as a cross hair and shooting oncoming asteroids.

Conclusion

The presentation in Banana Blitz is perfect, with annoyingly catchy guitar riffs fuelling the action and bright colours creating an immersive world. Unfortunately everything about the controls sucks and at times makes this game utterly unplayable. If the controls were good then you could double the score we've given it.

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Game Trailer

SEGA's trailer for the Wii launch title: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz

User Comments (14)

antdickensAdmin

#1

antdickens said:

Yeah, I actually quite like the controls, and I'd give it 8/10! I guess Monkeyball is love/hate kinda game ;)

KnucklesSonic8

#3

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Big problem with many reviews is that most of the time, the people reviewing the game don't give the game enough time and they just pass it off as broken and say that the controls are sloppy when that's not the case at all.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#6

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Sorry, but I agree with most of the comments here. The reviewer here has made a massive mistake. Its a solid 8/10 as the controls work fine. In fact its a good game to get when you first get a wii as it makes good use of the whole wiimote tilt mechanic. This and kororinpa are great.

HUGE, HUGE mistake made by the reviewer.

MmBuddha

#8

MmBuddha said:

I loved Monkey Ball 1, am loving Monkey Ball 2, but was utterly disappointed by this, I think the review gets it right. This is definitely a game that suffered from being released on release, they didn't do a good job of using the hardware, included way to many mini-games, didn't spend remotely enough time on them to make them balanced/deep/in some cases even playable.

Roo

#9

Roo said:

I thought the controls were solid in this one - among the best in the launch window, anyway. It's a good party game despite the number of iffy minigames, and as cheap as a real banana. 4/10 was putting the boot in.

Yoshidude

#10

Yoshidude said:

4 out of 10 is just wrong. Though I have to admit, the games was f***ing hard when I first played it...so I traded it back in.

Simon_Deku

#11

Simon_Deku said:

The graphics of the monkey ball games ah dramaticly decreased every game. Same with the gameplay. :P

TechnoBoy301

#13

TechnoBoy301 said:

This game is actually just OK in my opinion. It's just the controls that makes this game bad.

Gridatttack

#14

Gridatttack said:

What? a 4? Come on, the controls aren't bad. Once you get the hang of it, the game becomes enjoyable. I would give this a 7.

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