Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz has appeared on the Nintendo Wii about thirteen years ago. After all these years, the game was also brought to the Nintendo Switch, this time with crispy HD textures. Has Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD stood the test of time or could SEGA have left the game better for what it was?
We saw the Super Monkey Ball series for the first time in the GameCube era and it can be described briefly as simple but also very addictive. You play in the game as the monkey AiAi or one of his friends in a ball. Your job is to complete different courses by reaching the finish line without falling off the track. The bananas that you can collect are not entirely unimportant. They give you a higher score and extra lives. It is relatively simple gameplay, but at the time it did guarantee fun. And to be honest, Super Monkey Ball is still fun to play. The levels in the main game each have a fine build-up in difficulty, so you don’t put the game away quickly and still want to play that new world. In later worlds, by the way, that is a bit less easy, since the fifth world you are faced with considerable challenges. Of course it doesn’t do anything new, but it still plays well!
That the game is so much fun to play is partly because the controls are very nice. The motion controls from the Wii version have been replaced by controls with buttons. A major improvement, it is simply more accurate and therefore results in less frustration. Certainly in later levels you will still fall off the track often enough, but you can hardly blame the controls for this. The later levels are difficult but fair, by continuing to play levels you will eventually succeed in finishing them with a decent score.
During the main game you take on a boss at the end of every world and here too it can be said that they play better by controlling buttons. The boss fights are fun and offer a good variety compared to the normal gameplay. Sometimes you have to hit a boss at certain places, other times it’s a kind of a platform level where you have to reach the end. Positive is that the bosses are really varied and offer plenty of new ways to play.
In terms of content, the game is almost the same as the Wii version, which means that in the main game you can get started with over 100 levels, spread across different worlds. If you are done with that, there are also a number of mini-games that you can play with friends. Some of them are really entertaining, but unfortunately there are also mini-games that are simply not that fun. Seesaw Ball, Whack-a-mole and Banana Catch are really fun to do. Sling Shot and Frog Ball disappointed me a bit. All in all, the mini games are a nice addition to play with friends.
This time you can also compete online to get the best score in the mini-games in the new Decathlon mode. It is nice that something new has been added, but the real power of the mini-games is really playing it together with friends. Finally, Sonic is also present as a playable character, including speed and rings instead of bananas. They are nice extras but they offer little new content to make the game feel truly new.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD had a nice bump in the graphics department, but it does show its age in some areas. While playing, everything just looks fine and reasonably sharp, not too special, but great for what it is. While the graphics simply do their thing while playing, the videos are disappointing, especially the intro of the game, but same goes for the boss intros. Here you can clearly see that we are dealing with an older title. Textures are not always sharp and characters can use more detail. The music is nice and cheerful like it used to be, but it doesn’t offer anything worth remembering.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD is an entertaining title whose gameplay has already proven itself. Graphically, the title has been somewhat polished, but apart from an online game mode and Sonic as a playable character, there is little new compared to the original. Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD can offer a lot of fun, but if you’ve played the original before, it’s hard to recommend the game for the full price.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD was and still is a great platformer that can find a new or returning audience on the Switch.