Infendo Reader Reviews: Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz

cowmilking.jpgFrom time to time, we’ll take a few well-written, intelligent and objective reviews from the Infendo Forums and throw them up on the main page for the whole world to enjoy. Here’s a review of a Wii launch title, Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz, by Abras.

The little, strange looking monkeys in bubbles are back for some more fun. The first game in the series made quite a splash during the Game Cube’s release. It was so popular in fact, that it spawned a plethora of sequels and spin offs (see picture after the jump for my opinion on that). It’s back in as a launch title for Nintendo, but this time with big launches from Nintendo like Zelda and Wii Sports, it hasn’t quite made the same impression as the first one. It sticks to basically the same formula, but makes some changes like the addition of a ton of mini games, the ability to jump, and the use of the Wiimote, as well as some graphical tweaks in the form of cell shading.

Game play:
Roll around in a ball and try to get to the end of the stage. This aspect has remained the same since the first Monkey Ball. Banana Blitz adds the ability to jump, making it much more like a platforming game, and the closest to Mario that’s available on the Wii right now. The single player starts out super easy but gets very hard. Kids will enjoy the early levels but will probably have a rough time with later ones. Dying over and over on the same level can be very frustrating.

And that’s the point where I switched over to the mini games, or party games as Sega calls them. Banana Blitz has 50 mini games, quite a few more than others in the series. The majority of them are variations on a sport or activity, and many others are some kind of race to the finish, but there are a few original ones. Most of the games are competition oriented and allow for four people to play. Too bad a lot of them aren’t very good, with generally bad controls and overused premises.

This game has some of the best controls on the Wii and some of the worst at the same time. Controls in the single player mode work well…but they can be a little “wonky” at times. Hold the controller like a TV remote, and tilt it in the direction you want to go, easy enough right? It is most of the time but the camera has a way of getting in the way. You could be just rolling along when all of a sudden, the camera completely changes direction, and you have tilt the controller a different way or risk falling off. You would think after more than ten years of 3D games, we’d be passed these kinds of problems, but at least this doesn’t happen a lot.

The controls on some of the party games are an entirely different matter. Some are passable while others have issues with sensitivity, as well as a high learning curves. There are 50 games, that means 50 different control configurations to learn. No one wants to spend the time to master each mini game’s controls, only to play it for a little then move on to the next one. Especially since these are supposed to be “party games” which should generally have a short learning curve.

There just might be a Monkey Ball screenie next to the word “cute” in the dictionary. As if monkeys in balls weren’t cute enough, Sega decided to cell shade Banana Blitz -with pastel colors nonetheless. Although I think it’s overly cutesy and kiddy, it certainly fits the game. Sega isn’t aiming at Hard core gamers, but rather kids, probably girls in particular.

Wait, Monkey Ball has a story? *checks Wikipedia*. Holy crap, I guess it does!! Dr. Bad-Boon is back from Monkey Ball 2, and he’s stolen the Golden Banana! So you have to roll around in a pastel world to get it back”¦ Why do they even bother?

When all is considered, I liked the game, still do in fact as it is one of only three Wii games I actually own. It has a fun and challenging single player mode, and a decent party game experience. Even if some of the controls aren’t that great, it’s fun to see people move around frantically to make it work. It’s also non-gamer friendly, which is good as almost any party is bound to have a few.

If you’d like to submit a review of a new game you’ve played, head on over to the Infendo Forums and contribute! Who knows, it might even end up on the main page of Infendo.