AiAi has been having fun rolling around in his ball for 2 whole decades and he's back with a remake of his original frantic adventures.
Right off the bat, let me clear something up. Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is referred to as a combination of the first 3 Super Monkey Ball games but it's essentially just a remake of Super Monkey Ball Deluxe which in itself is a compilation of the first 2 games. That being said, it does have its tweaks and extras so it's not a straight port which is good. I find it odd that it's advertised as a 3-games-in-1 package seeing as it's basically just the 1 game but that's beside the point because Super Monkey Ball Deluxe is an excellent game and I remember playing it for hours when I got my paws on it back in the day.
For the unfamiliar, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is a simple game where all you do is tilt the stage with the left stick in order to make a monkey in a ball roll through a stage. The challenge is all about not letting the little fellow fall off which sounds a lot easier than it is, especially as levels ramp up in difficulty. The point of each stage is to simply cross the goal but you can also collect bananas along the way if you so choose but time is always ticking down so I rarely bother with the delicious potassium-filled treats.
This classic gameplay formula is a ton of fun and to make it even more appealing, there are oodles of levels to roll through that'll take an exceptionally long time to complete; never mind completely master. As you do so, you'll come across many unique hazards and gimmicks that make the overall campaign a varied and consistently exciting experience. Whether you're carefully rolling across moving platforms, trying not to get snagged under hazards that push you through the floor, or carefully racing down a waterslide-like stage; you're bound to have great fun. Oh, and some of the trickier levels have been rebalanced here which is an excellent addition although there are still plenty of frustrating moments throughout such as levels that require a very specific tactic to finish.
In addition to all of that, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania features some extra modes with party games being the most substantial. Specifically, you can play 12 mini-games with up to 4 friends and each one is generally enjoyable. I mean; some are more fun than others but the overall quality is higher than what you'd expect, especially after the disappointing selection in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. You can also play ranking challenges complete with online leaderboards as well as special modes such as the original-balanced stages and a mode where you must collect all of the bananas. It's a truly impressive collection of content and I'm not even done yet.
Finally, there are lots of cosmetic unlockables that are fun to collect, too. As you play, you'll acquire banana coins to spend at the point shop for bonuses like characters, photo mode frames, and customization parts including hats, shirts, shoes, and balls. Although all of this is great stuff, I wish there was more substantial extras like a brand new campaign considering most of the content is directly from Super Monkey Ball Deluxe. Also, the cutscenes where the cast of monkeys watch cartoons are quite boring. I want more wackiness!
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is essentially a good-looking remake of Super Monkey Ball Deluxe with some nifty extras which is cool because that's an excellent game to bring back. So, if you're itching to master tricky levels then this package is sure to scratch.
- + Classic Super Monkey Ball fun with tons of challenging levels to master
- + Mostly enjoyable mini-games
- + Silly cosmetic items and extras
- - No real substantial new content
- - Same frustrating moments as always
- - Cutscenes are kind of boring