The general guide-a-monkey-in-an-airtight-plastic-sphere-through-a-maze formula hasn’t changed a lot throughout the course of Sega’s Super Monkey Ball series (outside of Traveler’s Tales’ Super Monkey Ball Adventure, but we don’t speak of that). However, the upcoming Vita game, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, has a couple of things I hadn’t seen before.
The first new mechanic I tried was "Love Maze," which tasked the player with navigating two monkeys through two parallel mazes simultaneously. Each monkey was controlled with its own analog stick, and keeping them closer together would build up higher scores. The first stage was no big deal. Perhaps one or two moving platforms, but the two mazes were practically identical, and it wasn’t that hard to keep the monkeys close together. I finished that stage with a love percentage of 110%.
The second stage had quite a bit more going on. The mazes would bend in different directions and there were a lot more moving parts. Instead of moving both monkeys simultaneously like I did in the first maze, I found myself moving one at a time. I’d try to put one monkey into a safe position, then move the other one to catch up. Eventually, while I was trying to move both monkeys simultaneously, one was knocked off of its stage into the abyss below.
After love was over, Sega representative demoed the game’s new "Photo Maze" …by taking a picture of his nostrils. Aiai appeared onscreen and was given a box with the photo inside it. After shaking the Vita (and by extension the box) for a while, a randomly generated stage popped out of it. While the maze’s content didn’t specifically use parts of the photo as obstacles like the Japan-only "adult map," parts of the photo were scattered around the level in a psychedelic fashion. The backgrounds looked like nostrils as seen through a kaleidoscope.
That said, the prospect of randomly-generated Monkey Ball levels with a bizarre art style is pretty cool. I just hope that they’re all relatively enjoyable to play. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz will be released on the Vita on October 26th.