PAX Aus 2019: Hands-on with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD
We got to go hands-on with the final version of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD at PAX Australia, if you’re keen on it read over our preview – then enter our competition to win one of two copies.
While lines for many Nintendo Switch games – like Pokemon Sword & Shield, Luigi’s Mansion 3, The Witcher 3, etc. – snaked around for waits in excess of two hours, others unassumingly saw players come and go at the handheld display. One such game was Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, a remake of the early Nintendo Wii game.
Buoyed by its cute and colourful aesthetic, I jumped straight into the first level of the adventure mode, where your goal is to roll your monkey ball from the stage’s beginning to the finish. What I had forgotten since playing the Super Monkey Ball on the GameCube some years ago is that you don’t actually control the ball. Instead, moving the control stick tilts the entire stage, and therefore your simian friend starts rolling accordingly. At first, this is extremely jarring and disorienting, especially with how quickly the camera whips around.
Thankfully, the levels start off very basic – the first level is essentially a straight line from start to finish. Following this, the levels increase in complexity, putting collectible bananas in trickier positions, adding sharper corners, and introducing jumps in an effort to bump you off the course entirely. Once I got a handle on the controls and how Banana Blitz HD’s physics worked, I really enjoyed zooming around and quickly worked my way up to the area’s boss encounter.
I could have easily played more, but other appointments kept me from fighting small children off to spend more time with AiAi and friends.
Being a Super Monkey Ball fan and having played most of them, Banana Blitz isn’t the worst Monkey Ball game that Sega could have chosen to bring to the Switch – but it wouldn’t have been my first choice.
However, seeing as there hasn’t been home console Monkey Ball game since Step & Roll on the Wii nine years ago – we’ll take anything we can get. Banana Blitz was a launch title for the Wii all the way back in 2007, and like most Wii launch titles it leaned heavily into the whole motion thing, luckily for us, that’s all been yanked out and we’re left with some pure Monkey Ball action. It’s not all roses, because you’re no longer playing with motion controls all of the levels which were made just that little bit bigger and blander to accommodate the looser controls make that game just a little bit easier.
The game does pick up difficulty eventually, you can experience this for yourself if you get the demo of the game which inexplicably drops you into the later stages. That aside Banana Blitz does feature a bunch of mini-games, in my limited time with the game I only got to play Snowboarding which was alright, but the real deal is, of course, Monkey Target – and that’s something everyone should play.
I honestly couldn’t remember Banana Blitz from the Wii, it was one of the games I got with my Wii on the launch, and while it seems easy I’m looking forward to just be able to play some great Monkey Ball on the go.
Words by Chris Button and Daniel Vuckovic