Review – Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD

Super Monkey Ball is one of the more modern Sega franchises I’ve always been curious about, but never got the chance to play. It’s not like I didn’t have the consoles those games were being released for, but there was always something else that was grabbing my attention, be it on Gamecube, Wii, or any other system. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, a remaster of the one of the Wii’s original launch titles, is the first game in the franchise I’ve ever played.

By the way, can you believe this series was created by the same guy who created Yakuza? On second thought… yeah, it makes total sense…

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Oooh, banana!

For the uninitiated, Super Monkey Ball revolves around guiding a little monkey inside a ball through a maze and trying to get to the finishing line before the timer is out. All while collecting as many bananas as possible in order to increase your high score. The main feature, however, is the fact that you don’t exactly control the monkey ball per-se, aside from jumping every now and then. For the most part, you move around by tilting the entire level, not unlike older games like Marble Madness. Aside from a few boss battles, that’s basically all you’ll do in the main game.

Banana Blitz is no different. You get around 100 levels, some of them being bonus stages and some of them being boss battles. Each gets progressively harder as time goes on and all you’ll do is tilt and jump. Despite being a remaster of a Wii game and despite the fact the Dualshock 4 controller actually features motion controls, all you’ll use is the analog stick and the X button. Very rarely, you might use another button or two while playing a mini-game.

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Not recommended for those who suffer from vertigo.

New to this remaster, besides an improved resolution, are several features. First, is a brand new soundtrack comprised of industrial glue and bubblegum in music form. The next is a time attack mode, featuring online leaderboards. There is also a “Decathlon” mode that makes you play all ten extra mini-games in a row. Lastly is the inclusion of Sonic as a playable character, in a reverse cameo after the Monkey Ball characters showed up in Sonic Forces  Which is a game I’ll forever defend for not being as bad as people say it was.

Even though Banana Blitz is fun and challenging, as well as adorable to the point I want to punch the little monkeys in the face for being so cute, it gets tiresome after a while. This is a very simple arcade game that, despite featuring a ton of levels, isn’t long at all. You can beat the game in its entirety in a few hours, if you can actually manage to withstand playing it for such a long time at once. The amount of extra mini-games was also vastly reduced, going from fifty to a mere ten. This makes the overall amount of content besides the main game even more shallow than it used to be. The mini-games themselves are somewhat fun, don’t get me wrong, but they’re only actually enjoyable with friends. Even so, there are better local multiplayer experiences out there than Banana Blitz HD mini-games. Mario Party, this is not.

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Can we get a new 1080 Snowboarding, please?

I’m not going to say that I didn’t enjoy my time playing Banana Blitz HD, but you need to understand that this is a relic of the early 2000’s arcade scene. It is a straightforward game that is best enjoyed in short bursts due to its ridiculously simplistic gameplay loop and overall lack of depth. It’s irritatingly adorable, it features an infectious soundtrack, and its amount of extra content is sure to suffice. But don’t expect a lot else other than controlling a monkey inside a ball trying to grab a lot of bananas. And if you decide to grab it, make sure to get it on the Switch instead of the PS4.


Graphics: 6.0

The visuals are adorable and the framerate is rock solid, but the game doesn’t look much better than your average Sega arcade game from the early 2000’s.

Gameplay: 7.0

Be it the regular arcade mode or the extra mini-games, the gameplay is usually comprised of the analog stick and one or two buttons. It’s easy to learn, hard to master, but way too simplistic at times.

Sound: 8.5

A soundtrack that sticks into your head like bubblegum. There are some cute sound effects that should irritate me, but didn’t for some reason.

Fun Factor: 7.0

It’s fun in short bursts, as the extremely simplistic gameplay becomes tiresome after a while. The overall stupidly infectious charm and extra mini-games help out a bit as well.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD was provided by the publisher.