Nostalgia is a humorous factor. It could be a comforting sensation, but it surely typically makes issues from the previous appear higher than they really are. Unfortunately, the latter is the case with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, which compiles over 300 ranges from earlier Super Monkey Ball video games and updates them for contemporary consoles. I’ve fond reminiscences of enjoying the GameCube variations with associates almost 20 years in the past, so I anticipated Banana Mania to be a welcome return to these carefree nights staying out previous curfew and rolling down more and more tough programs. Sadly, rollin’ simply isn’t as enjoyable because it was.
As the identify implies, Super Monkey Ball is a collection about monkeys in balls rolling their approach by tons of of levels and avoiding more and more tough obstacles – and sure, it’s precisely as foolish because it sounds. The GameCube-era graphics have gotten an overhaul that makes the cartoony artwork type extra vibrant than ever, and I discovered it arduous to not bop my head to the arcadey theme music. It’s all the time refreshing to see video games that don’t take themselves too severely on this period of more and more lifelike graphics and critical material, and Super Monkey Ball is something however critical.
Because Banana Mania is a mash-up of a number of earlier Super Monkey Ball video games, there seems to be an nearly overwhelming quantity of content material at first. There’s the Story mode initially seen in Super Monkey Ball 2, which is much less a cohesive marketing campaign than it’s about 100 ranges throughout 10 worlds loosely stitched along with temporary, dialogue-free animated cutscenes. Challenge modes from the primary two Super Monkey Ball video games seem as effectively, though the separate modes have some startlingly comparable programs. And in fact, Challenge mode doesn’t really feel considerably totally different from Story mode gameplay-wise as a result of the one twist is that you could’t choose up the place you left off — it’s important to get by the entire problem levels in a single sitting. So it’s extra a problem of endurance than the rest.
The downside with each the Story and Challenge modes is that, after 30 or 40 ranges, they each start to really feel like a slog. The problem in Story mode actually ramps up across the midway level, going from mild and breezy to a irritating train in failure in a short time. Early ranges would possibly problem you to make your approach round a winding path or hold your momentum going lengthy sufficient to clear a niche; in a while, you’ll be thrust into the air by spring-loaded platforms and fail the extent earlier than you actually have a likelihood to regulate the digital camera to see a hazard you didn’t know would come at you from that path.
That’s precisely what occurred in one of many ranges that made me wish to pull my hair out: earlier than me stood a towering theme park trip made up of platforms related to a pole within the center. Because you’ll be able to solely tilt the digital camera up thus far, I couldn’t see the place the end line was — as a substitute, I needed to roll onto a ground-level platform that thrust my ball upwards and attempt to determine it out within the air. The first time, I used to be thrown instantly right into a connecting pole and bounced off the map earlier than I even had an opportunity to maneuver. Other makes an attempt ended after I landed on one of many larger platforms and bounced proper off once more. When I lastly managed to land in the appropriate place and keep put, it didn’t really feel like I’d mastered the obstacles of that specific stage; it felt like a fortunate run that I wasn’t positive if I’d have the ability to replicate. If only some ranges have been designed like this it’d be simpler to dismiss that feeling, however after the midway level most of them begin to really feel this fashion.
And whereas the environments and backgrounds is perhaps enjoyable and colourful, a lot of the playable stage design is repetitive and uninspired. The extra I performed previous a sure level, the extra it felt like a chore. What’s particularly draining is that after ending a very tough stage, there’s no satisfying adrenaline rush that accompanies overcoming a problem — only a sense of reduction that it’s lastly over. Super Monkey Ball might’ve realized a factor or two from Peggle about meting out serotonin.
It’s telling that the builders really included a few methods to take care of notably robust ranges. There’s a Helper mode that doubles the time restrict and offers a visible path to the purpose, which will be helpful however normally doesn’t negate the larger points. It’s normally not a matter of understanding the place the tip purpose is — getting there by trial and error or dumb luck is the issue. I can’t inform you what number of instances I simply blindly rolled ahead as rapidly as doable, hoping that it will get me nearer to the tip, as a result of each different technique led to failure. There’s additionally the choice to skip a stage totally, which is very good as a result of it ensures that you simply’re by no means caught on one irritating stage for too lengthy – assuming that you simply don’t run out of the factors you might want to pay your approach.
You can earn factors in varied methods, however essentially the most distinguished are merely beating ranges and finishing sure challenges, like accumulating the entire bananas in a stage. The Point Shop is the place you’ll use these to unlock new characters, including to the preliminary six-character roster of AiAi and his monkey menagerie. (Every character performs the identical, however at the least they appear totally different.) You may even unlock a number of non-monkey characters from different Sega video games, like Sonic the Hedgehog, Jet Set Radio’s Beat, and Kazuma Kiryu of Yakuza fame, and enjoying as one in all them even adjustments the bananas on every stage to objects from their respective video games — rings for Sonic, spray paint cans for Beat. It’s a considerate contact, though the flipside is that these particular characters can’t be personalized with new outfits just like the monkeys can.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania – Opening Night Live
Looking again at my private expertise, the Super Monkey Ball video games have all the time been at their finest as occasion video games, and that continues to be the case with Banana Mania. Party mode has a dozen mini-games, and most of them are genuinely enjoyable and have shocking depth when performed towards different people; for instance, the Mario Kart-esque Monkey Race recreation has 12 tracks and a number of gameplay modes, and Monkey Golf has common and mini-golf variations. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania is likely one of the few video games to supply same-system multiplayer in a time when nearly all the things is online-only, making occasion mode simply its most redeeming high quality.
As a solo expertise, nonetheless, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania falls flat. More than as soon as, I discovered myself questioning why I had appreciated these video games a lot after they first got here out. Playing on PS5, I even turned on movement controls to attempt to replicate the magic of the early Wii recreation Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, however that was an entire catastrophe. The easiest tilt of the DualSense controller had levels careening to the left or proper, sending my monkey balls flying. It’s a disgrace that Banana Mania didn’t reside as much as the Super Monkey Ball expertise in my reminiscences, however instances have modified; perhaps it’s time this collection touched a wierd black obelisk and advanced, too.