Game Info:

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD
Developed By: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
Published By: Sega
Released On: October 29th, 2019
Available On: Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
Genre: Action-Platformer
ESRB Rating: E 10+, Mild Cartoon Violence, Suggestive Themes
Number of Players: 1-Player Story Mode, 1-4 Player Multiplayer
Price: $39.99
(Humble Store Link)

We at CCG want to thank Sega for sending us the game code for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD on the Nintendo Switch! Thank you very much!

Unique game titles are beginning to saturate the industry as developers branch out to try something new. Whether it be fan-made titles created by using the best engines or 3D reboots of classic games, the recoating of the old with a shiny new veneer seems to be in vogue in 2019. It is no wonder, then, that Sega has begun to reach into its deep duffle bag of IPs and pull out some of their best to remaster. Sonic the Hedgehog has come back into the scene with Sonic Mania and a…not-so well-received movie adaption. What other games can Sega remaster for its rabid fanbase? Crazy Taxi? No. Nights into Dreams? Nope. Altered Beast? Of course not! How about Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz in HD? There you go!

Though not my first choice for an HD remake, but certainly not my last, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz was originally a flagship title released for the Nintendo Wii in 2006. That version highlighted the use of the “Wiimote,” a feature that is not carried over onto the Switch with the Joy-Cons. Regardless, the port is being added to multiple platforms, including the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, so the motion controls won’t be needed for this version. I was able to spend some time playing the game prior to its release, and it brought back some fond, and not-so-fond memories of the original game.

The story of Banana Blitz is rather ambiguous, but the charm of the game is seen through the non-verbal storytelling and cutscenes. Our hero, AiAi, and his crew of monkey friends are enjoying an afternoon banana picnic when the evil alien-robot-space pirate, Captain Crabuchin, crashes the party and steals their coveted Golden Banana Bunch. The various pieces are scattered around the globe, and AiAi and his motley crew of simian companions must brave treacherous obstacles and overcome fearsome bosses to get them back. With a story that simple, you would think that the story mode would be a simple playthrough, but you would be wrong about that!

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD

Strong Points: Family-friendly game with a childlike aesthetic; fast-paced and challenging gameplay; multiplayer games provide some fun mini-games
Weak Points: Very steep difficulty spike; the camera is hard to negotiate; the controls are often too sensitive for precision play
Moral Warnings: Very light cartoon violence and a busty lounge singer boss

You see, before Dark Souls and Sekiro, there was Monkey Ball. The first game in the series was released in 2001 on the GameCube, and most players came to find that title exceptionally challenging. Banana Blitz follows in these footsteps by presenting a game that leads players on to thinking that they are great; that is, up until the 5th world. It's at that point where the difficulty spikes and the platforming gets much more difficult.

This game is considered to be a “platforming adventure,” but I think of it as something far rarer. Banana Blitz is a “precision platformer,” one in which the player must not only jump from platform to platform but also use the analog stick to balance the ball in which the monkey sits. This creates a double-whammy of difficulty, forcing the player to practice going through the levels more than actually clearing them. So it goes without saying that this game has a high frustration factor.

Despite the game’s difficulty, the level and obstacle designs are some of the best I have ever seen in any platforming title. There is a clear connection to the game design of Sonic the Hedgehog in Banana Blitz. There are rolling hills with plenty of platforms and speed boosts. The world is also very colorful, bringing a childlike aesthetic to this game that many younger players will find very appealing. The green plains shine with sunlight while the gems on the walls of the dark cavern shimmer and shine with brilliance. Each course is suspended high above the world, giving the player a heightened sense of danger as they balance their monkey over a certain “FALLOUT.” When you do fall, the announcer certainly lets you know.

The two parts of this game that both make and break the title are the controls and the camera, both of which can not be altered in any way. The monkey is the central focus of the camera, and it does not move from its position in the center of the screen. It is the environments around the monkey that actually moves, tilting back and forth as the player uses the analog stick. This helps to make the precision moves needed to complete the game. The camera will always stay fixed on the back of the monkey unless sharp turns are made or the ball gets turned around, which happens often. That is when the camera becomes absolutely useless, and the player must find a way to navigate the monkey ball to a place where he can see where he is going. Though the camera sensitivity can be tweaked, it does very little to help the awkward movements of the screen.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 2/5

Morality Score - 96%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 9/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Though the single-player story mode is the core experience of the game, Banana Blitz also offers multiplayer fun for the entire family. Up to four players can join in on a local match of various minigames, including races, snowboarding, para-gliding, and yes, even whack-a-mole. You can even play a single-player decathlon of every party game available for points on the online leaderboard. The time-attacks are the same way; rushing through previously completed courses for bragging rights among the online community. All of these extra minigames are fun in the beginning, but they soon become stale as you realize that these little diversions do not capture the essence of Monkey Ball, the fast-paced balancing action. 

If you are looking for a wholesome gaming experience to share with the little ones in your home, then Banana Blitz can certainly provide that. In a market saturated with questionable material, this game is as harmless as a dove. The childlike atmosphere looks like it was directly taken from a nursery; even the sponge-like terrain looks soft enough to teethe on. The monkeys do run into enemies they must combat, but they mostly just bounce harmlessly on their heads or weak points. The boss of the 6th world is a busty lounge singer-like monster that might show a little too much “cartoony bosom” for some individuals’ liking, but that is the extent of the inappropriate content in this game. You don’t have to worry about what the kids are witnessing if they are playing Banana Blitz

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a good remake of a very challenging cult-classic. The high definition details make the graphics pop out in a way they didn’t on the Wii, but the core gameplay is still the same, camera problems and all. I will admit that I miss the motion controls of the original, but the new interface does not affect gameplay much. If you are looking for a challenging game that will test both your reflexes and patience, Banana Blitz is a great title to add to your collection. If you want a fun game for the family to enjoy, this game is also for you.  Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD brings a little something for everyone to enjoy, just watch out for those bumpers, they will absolutely destroy your run!

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J.R. Sommerfeldt

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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