Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9


It's eerie that when you first pick up the Wii version of Sega's Super Monkey Ball franchise that it seems like the developers had the system in mind when they first created it. This is hardly just another Wii game; it's THE game for the console's launch. Banana Blitz easily becomes the franchise's high point.

monkeyballblitz1_wii.jpg (44465 bytes)The absurdities of the series are still intact. You pick a monkey, it gets into a ball, and you begin sliding it around a number of treacherous hazards. You don't need logic when you have monkey in a ball.

Slightly changing the formula for this Wii release, instead of directly controlling the monkey in the ball, you'll move the stage. Using the Wii Remote while holding it straight out, tilting it in any direction lets the ball glide around the stage. For example, tilting it forward will speed the ball up by lowering the level, pulling it back will slow it down by raising it.

Not only is this intuitive and natural, it's incredibly responsive. The typical frustrations with this franchise are certainly still in full force, though you'll be so entertained, you'll be replaying the levels simply for the fun factor. Setting records and best times becomes a secondary goal.

Progression follows various stages, split into eight individual levels. When those eight are completed, a boss fight follows. In the early speed runs, you might not notice a jump button has been added by pressing the A button. The end stage clashes follow a wonderful, almost retro platforming design. Bouncing on the heads of foes a few times is enough to take them down, while also avoiding typical Monkey Ball pitfalls and attacks.

Also in standard series fare, there are 50 mini-games. The bonus here is that all of them are unlocked from the beginning without forcing the player to run through the main game. Each uses the Wii Remote, and some require the nunchuck as well. Unfortunately, a number of them are touchy are unresponsive. Even when performing the motions exactly as shown, the monkey sits there. The ones that work, particularly darts, are worth the price on their own.

Banana Blitz is a title that requires few words when discussing it. Its design was brilliant when it debuted on the GameCube, and that brilliance follows it over to the new hardware. With a change in controller, the series has been given a new lease on life (especially after disastrous side games like Monkey Ball Adventure). This is currently the Wii's best effort.


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Last updated: Friday, December 08, 2006 11:22 PM