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Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 31 - 2019

Balls, monkeys, bananas. What more could you want?

 
As kids, many of us would have had a pet hamster, and one of the highlights of said hamster ownership would have been to put the furry little creature into one of those large plastic balls and watch them scoot around on the floor without any risk of escaping. Kids will be kids though, and I would imagine many of them would have subsequently designed ornate courses for the hamster to navigate through, leading to hours of entertainment, and probably plenty of terror for the hamster. I am pretty sure this was the original inspiration behind the Monkey Ball games, games in which players have to guide a clear plastic ball containing a monkey around elaborate courses.

 


 
The Monkey Ball games have all but disappeared in recent years, but now they are back with SEGA launching Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD on the Nintendo Switch, along with Xbox One and PS4. Originally a Wii title, Banana Blitz has dropped the sketchy motion controls in favour of the classic controls that worked perfectly fine before the launch of the motion controlled console. It’s time to get down to the serious business of tilting a level in order to make a ball containing a monkey roll through a course within a given time, while collecting as many bananas as possible. Good times.

 
The main game offers eight different worlds for the player to move their simian through, all by moving the stick to tilt the world and get them rolling. Each world has eight stages, and the worlds gradually increase in difficulty as the player progresses. What starts off as a leisurely roll along paths with barriers on the outside, will soon become the stuff of nightmares as the slopes increase the balls speed and the rails are removed. The ability to jump the ball gives a good reason to keep dropping gaps into the course, forcing players to jump or plummet to their doom. The jumping is not particularly precise, which makes each leap that bit more tense.

 
Getting to the end of a course within the time limit will not be too testing, at least in the early worlds. However, challenge rears its head when players try to make it to the end in a faster time, maybe taking a corner a little faster than would be sensible. Each course is also littered with bananas for the player to collect, and the challenge is again amplified by enticing bunches of bananas being in the most difficult to reach places. While the game itself may be easier without the motion controls, there is certainly plenty of challenge to be found here.

 


 
Throwing more complication at the player are the boss battles. There is one for each world and while not especially difficult, they do feel slightly out of place. They involve static arenas rather than rolling levels, and the player will be generally avoiding the attacks of the boss before rolling in close and jumping to bounce their ball at the enemies weak spot. Obviously the imprecise jump controls make it a little trickier than it should be, but they shouldn’t prove too much challenge for the seasoned player. Aside from the regular levels and the boss battles, there are a selection of bonus levels that the player will have to unlock. These really ramp up the challenge and will test the players patience.

 
For players who haven’t had enough Monkey Ball action in the main game, Time Attack mode brings more of the same. With three different levels of difficulty, the mode will challenge players to complete the first world, the first few worlds, or all of the worlds in the quickest time possible. While it may be nothing new for the game, it will give the hardened players a good reason to come back and better their times over and over again.

 
Then it is time for a Monkey Ball party. There are two party modes available here, with one offering all of the usual type of short party games to enjoy with up to four players, while Decathlon mode will give the single player all of the mini games to play and then compare their score on the leaderboard. While the selection of mini games in this version of Banana Blitz has been vastly diminished compared to the original release, the games here are generally of good quality and fun to play, at least as a distraction from the main game.

 


 
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD has all of the polish you would expect from a SEGA game. Hell, even Sonic makes an appearance. It is brightly coloured, sounds great and the main game is just as compelling as ever. The mini games are a bit of a miss, as are the boss battles. However, anyone who ever wanted to roll a monkey down a course in a ball will be hard pressed to find better on the current generation of consoles. It can be frustrating, but anyone looking for a challenge involving monkeys in balls would do well to pick up Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD.

 

 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ 



 

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