Review | Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz

Super Monkey Ball is a devious game…”

Super Monkey Ball is a devious game, cutesy and fun on the surface, devilishly difficult and frustrating at its core. Recent years have seen the series make itself a home on the mobile market and has now found its way onto Sony’s latest handheld device, is the ball still rolling? Or is Super Monkey Ball over the edge already?

It’s definitely Super Monkey Ball alright with the usual progression of levels that get harder and harder, the first levels give you a false sense of security with ridiculously simple and flat levels, that eventually move into moving and slanted levels that require twitch reactions and small finite movements of the stick. That is, if you are using the stick, as with recent titles, motion controls are an option here but thankfully this isn’t the only option. As the levels get harder, motion controls just seem unfathomable, as they don’t give you enough precision for these tricky levels, they are commendable in the fact they are at least acceptable for those levels that are middling between stupidly simple and ridiculously hard and it’s not at the fault of the controls that the game gets so tricky. Some of the jumps in the harder levels feel luck based, especially when the game introduces jumps over gaps in the track.

"Some of the inclusions are forgettable…"

Besides the standard monkey in a ball rolling gameplay, Banana Splitz also features the fan favourite mini-games. Some returning favourites, some made specifically for the system with a mix of touch screen and motion based games ranging from Monkey Rodeo that uses the back touch screen to pit opponents against each other in a race for bananas to the familiar Monkey Target. Each game has its own set of variations that tweak difficulty and goal that keep things interesting, especially when you take the game online to play against human opponents. Some of the inclusions are forgettable, like Number Ball, which involves tapping balls in order of the numbers on them, that’s it… 

Another forgettable inclusion is the ability to create levels using photos, a good idea in concept, but the result of the photos you take is usually a random layout of blocks and pathways that don’t resemble the subject of the photo in the slightest, it’s still okay as a random stage generator if you need more levels, you can even share your ‘creations’ online. 

The game has a bright and colourful look that jumps out the screen and is simple enough that makes everything look sharp and detailed enough for the style, little animations like the monkey inside the ball panicking when close to the edge gives the game character and charm. The backgrounds aren’t as life filled with vast space filled with nothing and only a few background details in that void. Different types of surface on the track are colour coded and make it easy to see what is up ahead.   

"This is Super Monkey Ball, nothing more, nothing less…”

This is Super Monkey Ball, nothing more, nothing less, this version of the games comes out better for the simple fact that the hardware has an analog stick to control the game, if you prefer motion controls for some reason, those are here too. Mini-games lengthen the playtime, more so with friends and the main game will keep you coming back to conquer those harder tracks, but luck needs to be on your side for some of them.

  • Classic Super Monkey Ball actions, left stick and all.
  • Challenging with a lot of variety.
  • Mini-games are fun online and with local friends.
  • Bright and colourful.

  • Difficulty gets frustrating and luck based.
  • Some of the extras are forgettable at best
  • Motion controls simply aren’t an option in the later levels.
  • Menus are a bit unintuitive. 

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