Sega’s long running Super Monkey Ball series has seen many ups and downs in the11 years since its debut. The original’s simple charm—rolling a captured simian encased in a transparent ball down elevated platforms—got lost in the shuffle as suspect level design and noob-friendly additions killed the need for truly skill-based play. Sega, thankfully, goes back to basics with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz , a game that utilizes classic design and the PlayStation Vita’s hardware to produce a series entry that’s one of the best in quite a while.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz once again sees you guiding an encapsulated monkey around elevated, barrier-less platforms—you fall off, you lose a life. The mission is to collect as many bananas in the allotted time and race to the goal without plunging to a very cutesy death. If the premise sounds simple, that’s because it is. Successfully navigating levels, on the other hand, is quite challenging.
Fortunately, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz has a smooth learning curve—and a practice mode—for guiding your monkey of choice through levels that see moving platforms, sharp turns, bumpers, and other obstacles. The game brings a certain amount of stress—an enjoyable, addictive one—that comes with trying to hug corners while maintaining a decent speed. Sega wisely lets you play with either the PlayStation’s sticks or by tilting the handheld (the latter is infinitely more fun).
Beside the main game there are a numerous fun challenges in Party Mode, which provides twists on the Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz action. There you can bowl (by flicking our monkey toward giant pins), play a game of billiards (that features obstacles and four-player action), dive into a Bingo variation, and more. Load times as you switch between modes are annoying.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz lets you create stages, too. You do this by snapping a photo of an object with one of PS Vita’s cameras and then shaking the handheld. I did this several times, but couldn’t identify any element of the object I snapped in the terrain. The map had adopted small portions of a blue sweater’s color, but the creation process appeared random for the most part. The camera addition felt gimmicky; I’d rather manually create stages. That said, you can upload created stages to servers so that others may download them if they know your PSN handle. The username requirement, unfortunately, stymies discovery, as you can’t grab random builds.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz is a fine portable game—the stages are short enough for quick hits during a commute or while waiting in line at the checkout counter. That said, the fun action is interspersed with some annoying load times and gimmickry. Super Monkey Ball fans will eat this up, but if you’re new to the series, you, too, should find a lot to like.
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|ESRB Rating||E for Everybody|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc