Sega Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
Sega's attempt to resurrect the degenerating Super Monkey Ball franchise with more poor monkeys in a ball ends up falling flat on its face.
- Monkeys, mini-games
- Hollow storyline, tedious puzzle levels, control system
Sega should seriously consider monkeying around with the formula because it's starting to feel incredibly stale.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Monkeys running around in clear plastic balls: sounds like the recipe for a good time, doesn't it? And it was — five years ago. But even the most wonderful ideas can be beaten like a dead horse, and Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz is starting to look like a pony that's gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime.
Although the Wii title offers promising improvements, Sega's brave stab at a new spin-off falls flat in the end with a hollow storyline, repetitive bouncy music, and tedious puzzle levels that cause banana-splitting headaches.
Banana Blitz has eight known worlds that consist of eight stages each. Two new characters, Yanyan and Doctor, join the returning characters Aiai, Meemee, Gongon, and Baby. Each character has unique stat abilities that are categorised by Acceleration, Speed, Jump, Weight, and Size of Ball. Aiai is the all around average character and the one I find easiest to control. Doctor has the best acceleration but bad jump ability while Yanyan can jump well but has average stats for everything else. Gongon is the fastest and heaviest but has the worst jump while Baby is lightest and slowest but has good jump and acceleration. Finally, Meemee has good jump but below average speed.
The simple goal of the game is to collect bananas that are taken by the bosses. Every stage is an obstacle course loaded with jumps, twists, and turns. Your monkey rolls through the stages in response to the tilt of your controller. For example, the degree of forward tilt influences forward acceleration, while backward tilt decelerates the ball.
However, because of the sensitivity of the Wii controller, the levels are very frustrating to complete. One wrong flick or tilt and your unlucky monkey will fall off the course and die. Perhaps this is why the game allows you to redo each stage an unlimited number of times. I had to watch my unlucky monkey plummet to its death again and again, which was strangely unsettling, and having to endlessly endure the gratingly bouncy soundtrack only escalated my annoyance. After a while, I began to wonder whether subjecting myself to such frustration for the sake of winning a few bananas was worth it. As for graphics, the colourful, cutesy artwork is classic Super Monkey Ball style, but not much improvement can be seen between this Wii version and its GameCube relatives.
Honestly, the only thing worthwhile about Banana Blitz is its 50 mini-games. Up to four players can compete in a variety of activities such as Whac-a-Mole, where you use your controller like a hammer to bop moles, Ring Toss, which requires you to throw rings at targets, Alien Attack, where you use your nunchuck and controller to fly a hovercraft, and Paper Sumo Fighter, in which you use your controller to push your paper fighter in the direction you want. Unlike the single-player experience, the sensitivity of the Wii controller is precise, making the speed, strength, and accuracy of your movements essential for succeeding in the games.
It's a good thing Banana Blitz was a Wii launch title because the novelty of the Wii controls should help convince gamers to pick it up. And the mini-games alone warrant a look, provided you have the controllers and the friends to take full advantage of it.
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