Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is a howler of a game with a learning curve (literally). It can be frustrating if people aren’t prepared for it. This remaster is a reminder of what the series can be, bringing back an installment that isn’t as traumatizing as some of the others and reintroducing it to audiences. While it does look better than before and has much better controls and incentives, it still isn’t entirely perfect.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is, like many Super Monkey Ball games, a complex sort of labyrinth title. You have a monkey in a sphere racing along a hazardous track filled with different sorts of obstacles and reflex-testing segments. Your goal is to get to the end before time runs out, all while collecting bananas and not falling off of the track. It’s incredibly challenging, with eight main worlds that all have eight levels, a bonus level, and a boss stage and two worlds requiring you to complete the game without continues. In addition, you can go through Dangerous Route, Hammer Throw, Hovercraft Race, Hurdle Race, Monkey Snowboard, Monkey Target, Seesaw Ball, Slingshot, Space Monkey Attack, and Whack-a-Mole minigames alone or with up to four friends locally.
In many ways, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is gibbon you what you expect. It looks better on modern consoles than it did on the Nintendo Wii. The motion controls, which weren’t exactly great for precision, are gone in favor of a more traditional scheme that is better about keeping you on track. It gives you more incentives to keep coming back to what can be a frustrating and punishing game by offering unlockable costumes, Sonic the Hedgehog as an unlockable character, and online leaderboards for those who enjoy getting competitive. Not all of the 50 minigames from the Nintendo Wii version made it into this one, but the majority of the titles that were tapped for this HD remaster are the more enjoyable ones. Hovercraft Race, Monkey Snowboard, and Space Monkey Attack are all worth trying. (I do think Monkey Race or Number Ball would have better inclusion than Whack-a-Mole.)
But, just as it did in the original release, the Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD camera absolutely sucks. It works against you at every possible turn, attempting to get in your way and muddle your perspective. Did you overshoot an estimated approach and want to see if you can just hop onto a moving platform you know is in front of you without having to waste time rolling back to an earlier position and making another run for it? Nope! The camera defaults to behind your monkey, so you don’t get to see that. Do you want to try and angle the camera to find out if you could leap over the path to land on a lower part and skip some insane gauntlet? Well, the camera just can’t let you do that! I hope you got a good look at the track when the stage began!
This can trip you up in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD’s boss fights. Jumble Jungle’s boss, which requires you to jump onto missiles, would have benefitted from a better camera. These are, for the most part, the most challenging element of the game. While the levels themselves can be overcome eventually by muscle memory and repetition, the bigger baddies could drive you, you guessed it, bananas as you work out the sorts of moves necessary to hit their weak spots.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD attempts to bring people back to the series with an entry that has some boss fights that can be difficult can some stages that gradually get more difficult. (Though, to be fair, it is the camera that can make some of these more challenging than the actual layouts.) Its minigames and Decathalon Score Attack mode give a reason to play with others, while things like Sonic, new costumes, leaderboards, and Time Attack could help extend its lifespan.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will also be coming to PCs.