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Q4 2006



- Trying to balance the monkeys in the main game is fun, and intense

- Lots of mini-games to enjoy



- Some of the mini-games are pretty uninspired

- Visuals and sound are very plain



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Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz

Score: 7.5 / 10


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When play launch games for a new console, it doesn't come as a surprise when certain titles are quickly thrown-together projects trying to get to stores in time for when the new system in question is released.  Often times, these games suffer for it, but in the case of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, while it is still obvious that it was a somewhat rushed launch game, it still manages to entertain.  Between navigating the various courses in the main game, and fooling around in the various mini-games in Banana Blitz, there is enough challenge and charm to keep players busy for a long time.  Better still, itís a very inviting game that people can enjoy together.  There are some minor control issues in some of the mini-games that could have used ironing out, but these arenít problematic enough to ruin the game, nor is the Gamecube-like visuals.  For those that like party games, but also enjoy a meatier, more traditional video game, Banana Blitz does a very good job of providing a little something for everyone.


The main game itself takes a very steady hand in order to master.  Players roll their balled monkey around the various levels by tilting the Wiiís controller, which tilts the surface of the stage on-screen accordingly.  This causes the ball to roll at a speed determined by how sharply banked the ground below is.  Sometimes players need to move fast, and at other times a more delicate touch is required.  Whatever the case it does take some time to get a handle on it, but the feeling while playing can be quite intense, especially when speed is necessary to traverse




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a particular corridor.  There could be enemies attacking, a winding course, and a very good chance of falling into oblivion, but the player will still need to find a way to blast through full speed in order to be successful.  Early on this can be downright frustrating, but once you get the hang of it, the whole process is incredibly fun.



Shifting focus to the mini-games on Banana Blitz, what we have here is a bit more of a mixed bag.  There is a definite sense that the development team just got together one day, slapped a bunch of ideas on a white board, and just used those to make the mini-games found in this game.  Some are fun, while others are average.  Whatís interesting here is that non-gamers will probably like most of the mini-games quite a bit, while the hardcore crowd, who will eat up the main single-player game in Banana Blitz, may be turned off by some of the selections in mini-games.  There are ring tosses, paragliding, scooping fish, whack-a-mole, and a host of other mini-games.  It takes a few minutes for the control schemes to ďclickĒ but most of the games handle quite well.  There are a few exceptions, like the paragliding game, where the controls feel very awkward, though.  


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As interesting as the overall gameplay is in Banana Blitz, the same canít be said for the visuals or sound.  Graphically, sure, there are plenty of nice, cheerful colors, the animation is smooth, and the character designs cute, but the level of detail is no greater than that of a Gamecube game.  Itís a well established fact that the Wiiís graphics are not intended to be vastly better than that found in the last generation of consoles.  However, the visuals here arenít even the slightest bit better than the previous generation of games.  Nor is the sound terribly noteworthy, as it is simply some cute, bouncy tunes that are predictably found in this series.  It very much feels as though Sega simply imported the aesthetic of previous Monkey Ball games lock, stock, and barrel into Banana Blitz as the development team raced to get a game ready for the Wiiís launch.


This is something that floats around at the back of the mind constantly while playing Banana Blitz.  Was it a last minute attempt by Sega to have a game ready for Wii launch?  Perhaps.  The aesthetic certainly hints at it, and some of the choices in mini-games are so mundane that they can certainly further the argument.  However, the end product is still extremely fun.  Itís interesting, as the main game is very well suited to the more traditional gaming crowd, while the mini-games are a great distraction for casual gamers.  In any case, there is more than enough to do here to keep gamers entertained.  Itís not often that a game that looks a bit rushed for launch yet is still quite fun, but Banana Blitz has managed to pull it off.


Mr. Nash

January 28, 2007

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