Roll through the Wondrous Worlds of Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Steam on October 5! 🐵🍌#SuperMonkeyBall #BananaMania pic.twitter.com/YEMjI2CJSF
— Super Monkey Ball (@SuperMonkeyBall) July 14, 2021
The Super Monkey Ball series is a franchise that holds a special place in my heart. Not only is this a series that I and my friends used to spend countless hours cooped up in a small room playing, but it was also one of the first games that me and my now wife bonded over. In particular, the first two Super Monkey Ball games for the Nintendo GameCube. Though I never did play Super Monkey Ball Deluxe. However, seeing as Deluxe was essentially a collection of the first two games, I never really missed much.
Alas, here we are, and the series is celebrating its 20th anniversary with Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. This release is essentially a remastered collection of Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2, and finally Super Monkey Ball Deluxe. Akin to the likes of retro classic Marble Madness, Super Monkey Ball follows its DNA quite closely. However here, rather than navigating and tilting a marble through a winding map pressured by a timer, you’re navigating a ball with a monkey in it. Which is the simplest way of putting it. Thus, is much of the charm of this beloved SEGA classic series.
If you’ve ever played this series before, then you will know exactly what to expect. In total there are around 300 stages included in Banana Mania, each hosting its own difficulty and challenge. Super Monkey Ball is certainly a game that will have you battling against throwing the controller now and again. Especially as your monkey in a ball is within reach of the goal, and you slowly tilt off the edge of the stage, shouting all sorts of curse words at the top of your voice. Yet, despite its endless frustration, you’ll be restarting to the stage convinced that this time you will beat it.
And that’s much of the beauty of the Super Monkey Ball series, it will frustrate you massively at times. Not because of any poor gameplay designs, because this is a series that is wonderfully crafted. When you fall off at a stage, whether you like to admit it at the time, it will be a result of your own doing.
It is through this trial-and-error approach, the fluidity of the gameplay and the addictive nature of its design, you’ll keep on coming back to finally beat that stage. Yet even when you finally beat that stage, you may still restart the level knowing that you can always beat your previous time. For better or worse, you will struggle to put down Super Monkey Ball and that’s a testament to how well this series holds up 20 years after it was originally released.
Some of the stages in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania have been rebalanced. When I first heard this, I thought “I hope they’ve not made the game easier?” And in a way, it has been made easier. But not in the sense of reducing a particular stage difficulty. Instead, it feels like the overall gameplay has been improved, giving the player a little more control making the overall experience more responsive. So yes, the game technically has been made easier, but it’s more so with the overall quality of life improvements. However, purists can still play the game as they originally were in the “Original Stage mode.”
Some of the gameplay tweaks have also been incorporated from other games in the series, including Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. Accessibility features have been added such as being able to jump, slow downtime and extending the time limit in the stage. These are not features that I will likely use, but it’s nice to include these features just in case they’re required. The more accessible a game can be, the better in my book.
Other modes include the returning Story mode from Super Monkey Ball 2. Only this time the story is presented in the style of a storybook with AiAi, GonGon and co sitting next to a TV watching the story unfold. However, to be honest, I did not care much for the story and the only thing you really need to know is that Dr. Bad-Boon is up to no good. And that’s fine because I’m not playing the Super Monkey Ball series for its immersive story and deep lore. It’s all about the gameplay, Bay-Bay!
Go Bananas across a dozen delightful Party Games in the ultimate Super Monkey Ball adventure! 🍌🍌🍌🍌
— Super Monkey Ball (@SuperMonkeyBall) August 25, 2021
For me personally, as much as I love the main stages of Super Monkey Ball, it’s the party games that I love the most. And apart from the rage-inducing Monkey Target, I still love these party games today as much as I did all those years ago. In total there are 12 party games, and my personal favourites include Monkey Bowling, Monkey Gold, Monkey Billiards, Monkey Soccer, and Monkey Tennis. Other party games include Monkey Shot, Monkey Fight, Monkey Boat, Monkey Baseball, and Monkey Dogfight. Seriously these party games are so good, they could quite easily be sold as a standalone game.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania does also include three new modes, well, kind of. We have Reverse mode, which plays stages in reverse (shocking, I know). Golden Banana mode, which requires you to collect as many of the bananas on the stage within the time limit. Finally, Dark Banana mode requires the player to beat stages without touching any rotten bananas. Furthermore, other additions include Time Attack mode, online leaderboards as well as a photo mode.
Players can also earn in-game currency simply called “Points.” These are earned simply by playing the game as well as completing any one of the 700+ missions. Players can unlock new characters (to add to the additional six), new costumes, modes, and much more. There’s plenty to earn and unlock in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, and not to sound like an old fart, but it feels just like the good ole days.
Overall, if you ever enjoyed the Super Monkey Ball series, there’s a lot more to love about Banana Mania. It combines all the best aspects of the series and improves upon them in almost every way. As I alluded to earlier, the fact that this series is now 20 years old, yet it still manages to feel fresh and fun, is a great testament to how fantastic these games really are. It does not matter if you’re returning or new to the series, Super Monkey Ball bakes everything that there is to love about this series and makes it better. So, if you’re after a fun, pick up and play a game to pass the time or to enjoy party games with family & friends, look no further than Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania.
Featured Image Credit: SEGA