Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Wii
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Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Product Details
Released on 08/12/2006
Get stuck into scores of new puzzle levels and a barrel-load of thrilling new party games, all specifically designed to take spectacular advantage of the pioneering Nintendo Wii controller.
One for you and every last one of your friends, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz takes the classic, fan-favourite Monkey Ball gameplay and adds a whole new world of fun.
- Party Games: Scores of party games have been creatively designed to take advantage of the Nintendo Wii controller.
- Puzzle Levels: A huge number of puzzle levels have been designed for players of all standards. Easy to learn but difficult to master, these puzzle levels bring the classic Super Monkey Ball gameplay to the Nintendo Wii for the first time.
- Boss Levels: After completing puzzle levels the game heats up with some serious boss battles. Each of the bosses will challenge you to find their weakness to defeat them.
- Monkey Jump: For the first time in the Super Monkey Ball universe AiAi and his friends will be able to jump using an upward flick motion with the Wii Controller.
Mark questions Sega's sanity...
Monkeys. In balls. Oversized, see-through balls, at that. Not just normal monkeys either. No; huge-headed, small bodied simians with a penchant for bananas so big they look like they could be inflatable. That's a bit weird, if you ask us. Whoever it was at Sega HQ imagined that up is one fruit short of the entire bowl.
Still, there's no denying that the formula works – and that, for all their soirees onto other gaming systems, it's on Nintendo machines where these particular monkeys most feel at home. The colourful little sphere-bound scamps were centre stage when the GameCube launched four years ago, and they now form a very big part of the Wii's release lineup. But have they made the transition to tilt-sensitive control with their trademark fun intact?
Like Monkeyball games of old, the main mode here revolves around guiding your chosen chimp through a selection of steadily more difficult courses against a timer that's continuously counting down. Uniquely, you do this not by moving the monkey, but by tilting the level itself, allowing you to roll towards the goal, collecting as many bananas as you can along the way.
Some of these bananas are placed in immensely difficult to reach areas, but contribute heavily towards your score, and collecting a hundred grants an extra life, so there's a constant balancing act between risk, reward and overall time that makes mastering the controls a must.
And it's the controls themselves that form the biggest talking point for the Wii iteration. The all-important difference of course, is the use of Wii Remote itself to tilt the gameworld. It may sound perfect for Nintendo's easy-access gaming philosophy, but it's been an especially tricky proposition for Sega to get right given how well the series already controlled with an analogue stick.
Career through the most precarious of precipices and plant your initials proudly atop the high scores table.
Thankfully, they've pulled it off; guiding your primate pal around by moving the Wiimote feels incredibly intuitive, if not a little tricky at first. Turning corners proves an especially awkward proposition, and platforms without walls to protect you from falling off are now quite frankly daunting to begin with, while the new jump function (better activated with A than the option of holding B and flicking the Remote) initially feels a bit out of place. However, when you finally do manage to get the hang of things you'll be careering AiAi and co. through even the most precarious of precipices and planting your initials proudly atop the high scores table.
If you take our advice, however, you may want to make this the one time you do decide to follow that sage gaming advice of taking regular breaks. The reasonably steep control learning curve here, matched with the concentrated nature of Monkey Ball's play means Banana Blitz will make your arm ache and head spin like no other game in existence.
Speaking of arm ache, Banana Blitz also boasts 50 different minigames, allowing up to four friends to experience a whole new world of game-induced aches and pains at the same time. They range from the infuriating to the ingenious, but only a few come close to the classics of past Monkeyball titles. Having said that, the most ambitious Monkeyball offering previously numbered at a paltry twelve minigames, so while the average level of quality may be lower here, it's largely down to the greater volume of games included this time around.
There are few here that outright don't work, but those that fall into that category are worth a mention. Vehicle games in particular like Arial Attack and Paraglider ask you use both Nunchuk and Remote to steer, which proves ridiculously unresponsive, and both fishing and Trombone lack any real enjoyment factor.
Occasionally hit-and-miss, but mostly its delightful monkey-in-ball based maze-and-minigame fun.
But there's also plenty of titles which can't help but raise enormous grins whenever you play them. Monkey target, despite only having one course, is as good as ever and feels great with the Wiimote, while shooter Monkey Wars, Monkey Race, Monkey Golf and Monkey Snowboard are all great fun, while Frog Ball will have you pumping the Remote furiously while everyone points and laughs at you – until it's their turn, anyway. Sadly, some of the more precision-based games aren't all that convincing – Keepy Up and Darts are okay, but not highly intuitive – and Monkey Bowling doesn't work as well as it's Wii Sports equivalent.
The good news for party players is that, unlike Ubi Soft's equally minigame-focused Wii release Rayman Raving Rabbids, the majority of Monkey Ball's games can be played simultaneously. And thankfully, almost all of Banana Blitz's best moments can be had without the Nunchuk, so it's also a decidedly inexpensive multiplayer blast. Recommending one game over the other proves difficult however; Rayman's shooter sections border on inspired, but there's also little in the limbless wonder's release to touch Monkey Ball's basic maze-based gameplay.
It's not difficult to be endeared to Monkeyball's presentation, though. It's not the most detailed game ever devised, but that never really matters; superbly colourful, catchy-sounding and charming to the core, Monkey Ball on Wii continues the series stance as arguably gaming's most genuinely likeable IP.
And that's a trait which the Wii release boasts by the banana-load. It's occasionally hit-and-miss, but mostly its delightful monkey-in-ball based maze-and-minigame fun. Even on a system flooded with novelty party titles, Monkey Ball stands out as a little bit different, so if you can get past the still-surreal notion of miniature sphere-imprisoned primates, you'll find a lot to enjoy in Sega's fine Wii debut.
- Well-implemented tilt-based control
- Great multiplayer laughs with little need for extra nunchuks
- Those simian scamps are really still quite charming
- Fairly steep learning curve with the new controls
- Generally hit-and-miss minigames, with only a few standout classics
- The pre-minigame tutorials could be clearer
Review by: Mark Scott
Version Tested: Wii
Review Published: 14.12.06
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Review (14/12/2006)
Mark questions Sega's sanity...
Monkeys. In balls. Oversized, see-through balls, at that. Not just normal monkeys either. No; huge-headed, small bodied simians…
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