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Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz Review

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How do you keep bringing out sequels to a game that’s first incarnation was undoubtedly its finest because of its arcade simplicity and strong core gameplay?

You don’t. Stop it.

Make it HD, bring out some DLC, Just avoid tainting the series with unnecessary additions and party games. Like a friendship (or in my world a TV series) that started off so great but lasted a little too long and now you hate it and all those fond memories are gone replaced with regret of what else you could have been doing with your time. I didn’t want to start the review off with such a pessimistic tone but when you have been craving that initial rush like that first hit of Monkey ball on GameCube gave me for over a decade, you start to get a little bitter about this shit.

So I’m sitting on the toilet with my Vita playing some SUPER MONKEY BALL: BANANA SPLITZ (yes I hate the title) and I’m having fun? I’m tilting, I’m smiling, I’m crying, I’m doing all the things you expect from a Monkey ball game! It’s not quite the original but it’s one damn solid piece of monkey balls that I can’t help playing with. The colours, the playfulness of the world design along with the challenge they all appeal to the child and the gamer in me and I can’t help but be absorbed that I remain sitting there long after my bowels are voided.

For those unfamiliar with What Super Monkey Ball is the concept is very simple. You guide a monkey in a hamster ball around collecting bananas and trying to reach the finish line without falling of the sides all within a timelimit. The twist to Monkey Ball’s gameplay is that you don’t move the ball with the joysticks, you tilt the map instead, leaving you and your tiny monkey at the mercy of the laws of gravity and momentum. It was originally designed with an arcade cabinet in mind and there it where it debuted before moving over to nearly every console since.

Some games are meant to evolve in complexity or depth as systems become more powerful, RPGs, FPSs, strategy games are all games that could do with looking at what they could be with innovation instead of looking at what other game in their genre they could be like. However the majority of arcade games like fighters, racers and platformers don’t need to become more complex, their appeal is their pickup and play simplicity with depth there if you are willing to work hard and insert a lot of money for.

I mainly stuck to the vanilla Monkey Ball mode which was probably a good choice as venture to fair out and you find yourself in mini-game town which I will discuss later. The vanilla mode was exactly what I was hoping for. There were no new mechanics, no changes to gameplay at all actually, just pure old fashioned Monkey ball fun which is exactly how it should be. It isn’t real Monkey Ball if you aren’t a second from death at all points. The challenge starts of slow but escalates to pretty soul-destroying, manhood-questioning, suicide-considering moments which I love. I am happy with the single player, it hasn’t made me forgive the mistakes in the past but is has begun the healing process. I hope we can move past those past transgressions (Like switch puzzles in Monkey Ball 2 You monsters!) Sega and AQL and you keep bringing out Monkey Balls of this calibre. Single player good, every other part of the game terrible.

The mini-games are tedious, the level design is a lie that pretends you have an impact on its randomly generated outcome and the online is a ghost town a couple of weeks after release and a dull affair anyway. I don’t want to spend much time talking about these because clearly the developers didn’t spend much time making them but take my advice and just steer clear of them in case they ruin your opinion of the game overall.I am constantly comparing it to its predecessors but when you aren’t really trying anything radically new (not that I want it to) this is always going to happen. It’s not the first all over again but it’s close and it’s portable and it’s cheap and it’s fun and it’s a worthwhile buy in my mind.

Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.


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