Review by Sharkshooter

"A severe disappointment multiplayer-wise"

Single-player: 8
Multi-player: 2

In short, consider this game if you plan on playing alone, but not if you enjoy playing with friends.

Banana Blitz is a collection of below-par minigames with an admittedly decent single-player only Story Mode tacked on almost as an afterthought. This game is a fine single-player game, but fails miserably in one of the series' trademarks, multi-player play. For a more extended explanation of how multi-player fails, however...

I was expecting Monkey Ball to be as great a party game as the originals. In fact, the part I was looking forward to most was Challenge Mode. In case you don't know or forgot, I'll explain classic monkey ball and challenge mode. Skip ahead four paragraphs to the main review if you've played Monkey Ball before or are pretty knowledgeable about it.

In Monkey Ball, you control a monkey inside a clear plastic ball. The levels are floating islands in which you must guide the monkey from the starting point to the goal. To move the monkey, you tilt the level. In SMBBB's case, you do this by tilting the Wii remote to mimic the tilting of the level.

In the Main Game, you do the levels of the game in order. If you fall off of the stage, you have to try again. Reaching the goal advances you to the next stage. There are three difficulty levels of Main Game. Each level has a different numbers of stages, but they each have entirely different stages.

Previous installments of Monkey Ball included Challenge Mode. In Challenge Mode, up to 4 players take turns playing through Main Game. You are going through it independently of each other, but taking turns. In other words, it is a race to see who can beat all the stages first (not all the stages in the game, all the stages in the difficulty level selected.)

Well, challenge mode is gone. The main game, or Story Mode, is strictly single-player. This deals a huge blow to what was the main multi-player attraction to monkey ball in the first place. There are no longer different difficulty settings. The game is simply divided into worlds with levels. At the end of each level is a boss battle.

Why has the challenge mode become so hollow? The main focus of developing this game went into the minigames, not the main game. The back of the box doesn't even mention the main game; it is obvious that Banana Blitz is not a sequel to Super Monkey Ball 2 but a SMB minigame collection that they decided to add a story mode to as a last-minute change. Truthfully, the minigames could have made this game great on their own. After all, there are 50 minigames in this installment, a massive amount compared to other entries, and the minigames are for the most part quite entertaining in the classic SMBs. Unfortunately, the minigames fall short in every way possible.

There are 50 minigames, but there are less than 10 that you will find yourself wanting to play more than once. The other 40 in the game are either too boring, too unresponsive, or too outright unfun to warrant any recognition. The 10 that are left are nothing on par with past minigames. Monkey Target, a prime example of the best minigames from the past series, is inferior to either of its past incarnations. Past versions of Target features three different targets in rotation as well as powerups; SMB:BB's Monkey Target has a single level with no powerups or bonuses. Monkey fight is replaced with the inferior monkey boxing. The minigames are uninspired and dull.

So what do the 4 points come from? This game does have it's good facets, but they are driven into the ground by it's shortcomings.

The control is great. Tilting the levels feels natural, and a new jump feature was added. The music is surprisingly good, and I found myself noticing the tracks when I normally don't. The two new characters are even a welcome addition. However, these qualities do nothing when executed so poorly.

I did not get to touch on Main Game very much due to the failure of multiplayer. In retrospect, the Main Game is average. For an avid SMB fan that doesn't plan on playing with friends, SMB:BB is a somewhat viable choice for it's novel control scheme and the same classic MB level design you expect. It even has difficult later stages.

An otherwise fine addition to the Monkey Ball franchise is ruined by limited features.I would reccommend renting this game first to anyone planning on buying it, because it may not be quite what you expected.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 11/21/06

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