Review by SuperPhillip

"Go Bananas!"

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz presents Aiai and the rest of the monkey crew's first foray into the next generation of gaming: the Wii. Not only are there an additional two monkeys joining them, but there's also a total of ten worlds (two unlockable) with nine levels apiece all capping off with a boss battle-- a series' first. Also included are fifty multiplayer games which make the single player mode seem like an afterthought, but more on that later. The entire game uses the Wii remote which will touched upon as well.

Single player mode features the same tried and true formula of this game's predecessors. You guide a monkey through increasingly difficult labyrinths, gathering bananas (20 for a 1-up), and navigating obstacles and enemies whilst attempting to stay on top of the level. New to the traditional SMB games is the jump feature. By pressing the A or B button on the remote, you leap into the air. This is helpful for leaping for baddies, obstacles, and other hazards to your quest to reach the goal. As you can probably imagine the possibilities in game design this opens up and which the designers took advantage of.

The main qualm with the game is how it controls itself-- the Wii remote. By tilting the remote forward, you tilt the playing field forward. By twisting the remote left or right, the respective directions move your monkey. This control setup felt too loose, and this idea presented itself strongly in the later levels where precision was key. When wanting to hold still, the ball continued to move often times costing me both time and patience. The later levels are incredibly frustrating and an unnecessary challenge because of being hindered by the Wii remote. I couldn't help but think how much I'd rather be using a more accurate controller such as a control stick to delicately move in a way that seemed impossible by using the Wii remote.

The boss battles consist of hitting the boss character's sweet spot while avoiding attacks that will knock your monkey off the battlefield. The beginning battles aren't too difficult, but the later ones are quite challenging especially World 5's octopus. You will fall off, and you will fall off a lot. Once again the Wiimote's inaccurate controls hinder the battles and make the game seem harder than it has to be.

Multiplayer mode, or Party Mode, features 50 party games, some feature both the Wiimote and nunchuk attachment while others just rely on the Wii remote. Most of the games are forgettable, unresponsive, dumbed down versions of their former glory. Seeing as most of the work going into the game went into multiplayer, Party Mode is a letdown. More time should have went into the single-player, adding new stages (though to be fair 100 is a lot already) or tweaking the controls would have been appreciated.

Finally, the music of the game is very well done. Memorable tunes are abundant for any audiophile. They're nothing complex, but music doesn't have to be to sound great. I recommend setting some time aside to just listen to it and appreciate it.

Overall, as a Monkey Ball fan, I feel pleased with my purchase. I don't feel that I'll ever unlock Worlds 9 or 10 as the game seems like more dabbling in overly frustrating and difficult gameplay. A pro will love this game (which I was until playing this game), but others might feel overwhelmed by the difficulty. A rental for the latter. Just remember one last thing: You will fall, and you will fall A LOT.
Happy banana hunting, all.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/06


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