Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD Review

Developed by Sega
Published by Sega of America
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Switch)

Super Monkey Ball is a long running series from Sega since 2001. There was a new game released in the series almost annually all the way until 2012. Since the release of Super Monkey Ball Bounce in 2014, it has been five years since the last time we’ve seen a brand new Super Monkey Ball game. Now Sega has released an updated version of one of their older titles for the PlayStation 4 and other systems in the form of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD.

The game is incredibly straightforward: you roll your chosen monkey down the course while collecting bananas and reach the goal. You can pick and choose which stages to complete individually. You can also aim to get to the end of the every single stage from the very beginning to the end without any continues for special recognition. This is a remake of the original game for the Wii back in 2006 which featured motion controls. Now the game handles with traditional controls. You can use the joystick to tilt the stage to move your monkey around. Each world has eight stages that ends with a boss battle before players can move onto the next world. This was a first for the series when the original version of the game came out.

If you’re looking for more than just a normal Super Monkey Ball game, there are also a bunch of mini games in the party mode that you can play with up to four others. They range from a Space Invaders type shoot em up to a Super Monkey Ball version of Whack-a-Mole. You can also play both the normal Super Monkey Ball and any of the party games in an online mode where you can upload your scores and/or time to compete on the leaderboards against your friends.

You can choose from six different monkeys as well as an additional secret character that you can unlock through playing through the game. Each monkey has a different set of stats that’ll help you best navigate through the stages. However, rather than switching from one monkey to the next in between stages, you’re meant to pick the monkey that best matches your play style. So options are available if you’re looking for the most balanced monkey ball or if you’d rather have a monkey that has a higher bounce for jumping over or across obstacles.

There are a good amount of levels included in the game that’ll keep you busy for a good amount of time, but the lack of other modes may leave a little more to be desired. Some of the boss battles can seem a little unfair, but unless you’re going for the record of beating every level in one sitting, you can eventually get by and move on to the next level. However, each subsequent world will remain locked until you actually defeat the bosses. You’ll certainly earn many lives by simply collecting bananas in the stages leading up to them. Once you’re out, then it’ll be back to the beginning, classic arcade style. Even with a limited ways to play, if you’re looking for classic Super Monkey Ball action, you’ll definitely find enough to keep you occupied for a good while. More so especially if you’re going for a complete run across every single stage.

Simplistic sound design doesn’t necessarily harm the game, but it doesn’t really do it any favors either. Since this is a remake of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz for the Nintendo Wii, not all of the music could be used again due to music licensing limitations. Also apparently the original did have more minigames available to play. Literally five times more, but in this iteration, only the ten best games are included. While playing every level in one sitting rewards player with in game bonuses, the gameplay may grow tiresome after a little while. The repetition can make it harder to sit through every level, especially when you get to the boss at the end of each world. Other than that, if you’re looking to return to a classic Sega favorite, then you can’t go wrong with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD