Super Monkey Ball: Banana BlitzESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer – Sega
Publisher - Sega
Wii-mote and Nunchuk compatible
Sega has had a strange way of making games that manage to become quite well known in their large library of internally developed games. Super Monkey Ball is one such franchise and it seemed only natural that they make an updated iteration of the game for Nintendo’s new Wii. After some extended playtime with this title I have to say that the game is quite well suited for the Wii’s special capabilities and it is quite enjoyable.
I have played a few different versions of Super Monkey Ball in the past and I would have to say that this is one of the better looking versions of the game. The graphics are somewhat simplistic, but this is in a very stylish manner as everything has a quasi-comic book look to it (e.g. cel-shaded). The colors seem to pop off the screen and everything is quite bright and vibrant. Hell, there are even a smattering of special effects to be found (e.g. particle effects) in a game that is not well known for its visual pizzazz. The game moves at a solid frame rate while there is no draw in to be seen anywhere. For those tech heads out there the game supports 480p and Widescreen mode and this makes the game have even more punch to it. Overall if you go into this game with an open mind then you’ll really enjoy the visuals that come with it.
Although sound is not really a major factor in a game like this Sega made sure to go a good job to help make the game a little more stylish. The music is somewhat “beaty” (ed. note – is that a word?) and really matches the mood of the game. In some ways it also adds to the craziness, especially in the later levels of the game. As for the rest of the sound effects, everything is there from the sound of the ball rolling on the surface of each level to the squeals of delight from your monkey when you perform really well on any given level. Overall I would have to say that the sound helps further this game somewhat and you will most likely not be disappointed by it.
Anyone who has picked up this title falls into one of two crowds: they have either played other iterations of the game or they want to try something new on the Wii. If you have played any of the games prior to the Wii version, then you know what you are in store for. If you fall into the latter, the simplest way to explain the game is that you control a monkey in a ball and traverse various levels (tracks) trying to get from start to finish in the quickest time possible without falling off.
New to the Wii version is the use of the Wii-mote and everything in the single player is assigned to such. Pointing the Wii-mote up, down and leaning it left or right, controls the level’s slope you are on. The Wii-mote really seems like it was designed to play this game. Although I found some of the 100 levels in the eight available worlds very challenging later on in the game, I didn’t become overly frustrated with it as any mistake I could only attribute to myself. There is a slight learning curve in moving your monkey about, but once you get accustomed to the lack of moving your monkey and ball without using a controller’s stick, the better you will become at it. I give kudos to Sega for the job they did in implementing the Wii-mote for this game.
A main feature to Banana Blitz is the inclusion of a robust multiplayer. There are approximately 50 or so multiplayer mini-games that employ the use of Wii-mote, and sometimes the Nunchuk attachment. These games are tailored for two to four players and can be quite fun. The genius in these games is that they are not particularly deep and they can be played with little to no learning curve, making the games immediately playable to anyone who wants to get into the fun. There is no doubt that some of the games will not be as enjoyable, while others will become fan favorites of those who play them. I enjoyed quite a few hours of multiplayer mayhem with fellow Game-boyz editors, friends and even family, and I made a lot of people stand up and see that that the Wii was for real (or should I say Wii-ell).
Overall there is some great gameplay in both single player and multiplayer game. The single player experience may get frustrating once in a while as it can get tough, but should one persevere the feeling of satisfaction is there. The addition of the multiplayer is just plain fun too.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz on the Wii is yet another solid title to hit the Wii early on. With easy to pick up and play controls, some pretty stylish graphics, good sound, challenging single player and an enjoyable multiplayer experience, you really can’t go wrong with it. Just remember, you’ll find the later levels somewhat difficult but persevere and you’ll get through them.