While not being the heaviest hitter back in ‘06, the HD remake trims a lot of the fat and refines areas that were not as strong.
Title: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD
Developer: SEGA / Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (version reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
Release date: October 29, 2019
Right off the bat, everything in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD got the modern game treatment and then some. Most of the music has been replaced due to licensing issues, so now this game has a much more high-energy, party feel to it. I personally like the high energy that comes in Banana Blitz HD. It very much fits better for a platformer that oftentimes feels like a party game.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is very simple to jump right into as well. You only really need to utilize the analog stick and typical jump button. Use the stick to tilt the level so you can steer your character inside their ball to get to the goal. Along the way to the goal, you can collect bananas which improve your score and if enough are gathered, you get extra lives.
After every world you fight a boss in the same fashion as traversing a level, but instead of reaching a goal, you have to typically jump on some flashing pink button to damage them. Worry not, the only way you can lose lives is if you time out on a stage or fall out of the playing field.
For those who want an extra layer of challenges aside from just completing a world, players can opt to get the Champion Medal for each world. It erases a world’s current progress and makes you start from the first level of that respective world. Basically, you have to complete the first stage all the way to the boss without getting a game over.
The base game and its mechanics have been preserved for the most part but with one key element missing— the motion controls. I get that motion controls were a turnoff when this game came out on the Wii which made level traversal harder than it needed to be at times. We have come a long way in refining motion controls since, especially with the Dualshock 4 and Switch hardware having built-in gyro controls.
I understand that Xbox One players will most likely not have any motion controls (not counting the Kinect). If the game at least offered motion controls for the former, the game could be more enjoyable at times, especially for the Switch since it has handheld capabilities.
SMB: Banana Blitz HD preserves the layouts of all the levels in the worlds for the most part, including bosses. When I say for the most part, I did notice some differences between the two games. There were these rails in the original game that acted like fixed tracks. They have since been replaced by thin platforms. The layout is exactly the same, but requires a lot more balancing and precision to move on. A slight mistake on the platforms can cost a life.
A new nifty feature added in Banana Blitz HD is the inclusion of alternate costumes for the characters. It doesn’t affect gameplay, but it’s nice to have some extras for the fun. But what does affect gameplay is the inclusion of Sonic the Hedgehog as an unlockable playable character. Instead of collectible bananas scattered throughout levels, they’re rings. He still plays like other characters, but his stats for the most part are superior to the rest of the cast.
Other than the main game, single player options include Time Attack and the new Decathlon mode. The Time Attack mode is self-explanatory. There are three sets of courses to get the best time for, each with increasing difficulty and duration. The Decathlon mode is basically the time or score attack mode for competing in online leaderboards. You go through all of the Party Games trying to rack up the highest amount of points.
Aside from a hefty amount of content for single player, the mutiplayer and extras have been sizably trimmed down. The fat has definitely been trimmed when it came to the mini games in Banana Blitz HD. The Wii version had 50 to choose from. In the HD remake, there are only ten. While many of the mini games didn’t make the cut, it’s understandable because most of them would not be compatible for all the consoles except the Switch.
You can burn through the Party Games in a group setting in less than an hour by yourself and at least two hours with some friends. I just wish the games would have been altered to be played with buttons on the controllers instead of getting rid of them completely. It would have given players more to do aside from the single player.
If you haven’t played any Monkey Ball game before, this might be the time to actually consider it. The game is fun and simple enough at its core to appeal to casuals and pros. For the Switch specifically, playing the game in handheld mode feels so much better since it feels it can be played in bursts. It just feels like such a missed opportunity that the motion controls were done away with even for the Switch.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HDSEGA
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.