Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania Review: Roll Along, Lil ‘Monkey

If you like to put small animals and humans in plastic balls and send them over ledges at high speed, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is a dream game. If you’re pretty much anyone else and you’ve never imagined doing such a thing, well, you should start imagining because Banana Mania is a lot of fun. Banana Mania is all that is good about Monkey Ball, and aside from a few minor bumps along the way, proves that the classic franchise is just as ripe now after nearly two decades.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania Review: Roll Along, Lil ‘Monkey

You often hear the media describe it as a celebration of this or that franchise, but there’s no other way to characterize Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. It repackages hundreds of the best scenes from Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2 and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe. If that wasn’t enough, Banana Mania adds some of the best minigames in the series, including Monkey Target and Monkey Fight. It’s essentially a “best of” collection, and there’s even a sly nod to those of us who prefer chaos (eg me) and miss the Banana Blitz jump feature. You can unlock this with points earned by playing through story mode and other challenges. The scenes themselves are a great reminder of why many remember the first games in the franchise so fondly. Banana Mania begins with a deceptively simple difficulty curve. You’ll spend four or five stages gently rolling forward, picking up bananas, and feeling smart about falling off the sides of some extremely narrow paths. The second world throws your comfort out the window and crosses it with a bus. One of the first stages is “Gravity,” a downward slope that gets narrower and narrower until you hurtle down the razor’s edge at 300 km / h, praying to the divine banana, if there is one. such thing, keeps you from bouncing back. the goal. From that point on, Banana Mania becomes more and more complex and outrageous, from scenes with floors that divide into rotating ribbons to fatal slides that propel you into oblivion if you’re not careful. In short, disasters will occur. It’s part of the fun, however, and Banana Mania never feels unfair. The physics engine means your failures are often pretty hilarious anyway, like a stage in world three where a rock literally hammers you through the ground in an automatic “Fallout”. All of this is wrapped up in a free-to-play story mode, where our heroic monkeys watch a comic book-style cartoon of themselves as they take on the infamous Dr. Badboon. “Loose” is the key here as there is very little connection between the story and the puzzles which is a shame as it’s quite adorable. Of course, not all puzzles are winners. Some rely too much on an outdated mechanism where you spawn on a switch that speeds up obstacles and have to back up to hit a slowdown switch. Some backgrounds also look a bit too dated. Future Monkey Ball games would benefit from taking a Tetris Effect approach and placing its devious puzzles in more dynamic settings. There are also a multitude of challenges for each stage, ranging from finishing with a certain number of bananas to reaching the most difficult objective on stages with multiple objectives. The best part of it all isn’t being the monkeys themselves. Banana Mania includes several additional characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Kazuma Kiryu from the Yakuza games, which you can unlock with points earned in story and challenge modes. Their selection even rearranges the collectibles and sound effects with each step. It might seem like a small touch, but I really can’t overstate the sheer joy of going through volcanic puzzles and picking up Staminum Drinks as tiny Kiryu in a plastic ball. So it’s a shame that some characters – Morgana from Persona 5, for example – are exclusively paid DLC characters. There really is no other reason for this than to make the extra profit, although I would gladly have paid extra for the game if that meant it included all available characters. These are all minor complaints, although another big issue is Banana Mania’s approach to accessibility – that is, there isn’t one. Each stage has an “assist mode” which doubles your available time and slows everything down. However, there’s nothing to help with motion sensitivity, and the assist mode often makes movement more difficult because it slows you down as well.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania Review – The Result


Deliciously challenging puzzles So many of them, and board games too! Ridiculously fun to play as extra characters Extra modes for even bigger challenges I can jump if I want

The inconvenients

No accessibility options Bland backgrounds Outdated puzzles from the originals are still out of date Arbitrarily locking some extra characters behind paywalls Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is almost exactly what I want from a collection of series classics. Familiar board games and mind-blowing puzzles are just as fun as ever, and Banana Mania adds just enough new elements with characters and challenge modes to keep things fresh. However, all future Monkey Ball games need to look more broadly at how to make this fun accessible to more people.
[Note: Sega provided the copy of Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania used for this review.]

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