Sega's Super Monkey Ball franchise is full of arcade-style fun but this remake doesn't quite live up to the original Wii installment.
I'm a huge Super Monkey Ball fan and still own copies of Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, Super Monkey Ball 3D, Super Monkey Ball Jr., Adventure, Step & Roll, Touch & Roll, Banana Splitz, and the original Banana Blitz, of course. So, you can imagine my excitement when Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD was announced. After playing it for a short while, I was impressed at the classic ball-rolling gameplay and graphical upgrade. In fact, rolling through the familiar super-tricky stages while listening to the energetic tunes made me smile as I passed each level. However, once I checked out the supplementary content after reaching a particularly brutal part of the campaign, my delight quickly turned to disappointment. On the plus side, you can unlock Sonic the Hedgehog after beating world 8 which is cool.
So, what's disappointing? Well, the original Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz contained a whopping 50 motion-controlled mini-games that admittedly weren't all up to snuff but at least they offered a huge variety of party fun with friends. Meanwhile, Banana Blitz HD includes 10 of the games and most of them are nearly unplayable. For example, I could not get my character to run fast in Hurdle Race no matter what I tried so it could definitely use clearer instructions. Plus, Hovercraft Race is the most irritating mini-game I've ever played, Monkey Snowboard could not be more tedious, Slingshot is a random mess of a game, and Whack-a-Mole is simply a joke how lame it is. My favourite mini-game is Seesaw Ball but it's still an overly simplistic and fairly boring game. There's also a generic vertical shmup called Space Monkey Attack, the incredibly difficult Dangerous Route, a basic Hammer Throw, and a subpar version of Monkey Target.
Awful mini-games aside, I'm grateful that the original 10 worlds are included in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD and mastering them is quite a steep challenge even for series veterans. Beating the later worlds without continuing in order to earn their champion medals is a challenge fit for a gaming guru while climbing the leaderboards via the 3 Time Attack courses can be a lot of fun. Other than that, there isn't much to do here so if you're not one for challenging yourself then you won't spend much time with Banana Blitz HD.
Before wrapping up this review, allow me to describe how frustrating Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD's campaign can get. For starters, some of the boss battles are so annoying that they'll make you rip your hair out. The primary contributor to this is the horrible camera. Once, a boss slowly pushed me off the edge and I didn't even realise that it was moving due to the awkward camera angle. For whatever reason, you can't control the camera at all here but you could in the original Wii version so what the heck, Sega? If you ever want the camera to readjust behind your character then you have to jump a dozen or so times which makes the camera rotate in very slight increments. Having to do that is not only irritating; it could cause you to run out of time whenever you're in a tight place.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD is one of the most disappointing video game remasters ever. Although the core game is still a ton of fun, the amount of frustrating elements and missing content is simply unacceptable.
- + Classic Monkey Ball gameplay and tricky stages are as enjoyable as ever
- + Everything looks and sounds great
- + Rewarding level of challenge
- - Loads of content has been removed from the original Wii game
- - Mini-games are mostly unplayable
- - Camera can be highly problematic