Video Game Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz
Not even a T-Rex can spoil the fun.
Sega’s Super Monkey Ball has been around for at least a decade providing more fun than a… wait for it… “barrel of monkeys.” The series has marked its territories from home video game consoles to handhelds. While these games may not necessarily make leaps and bounds, they still leave players with a sense of enjoyment watching a monkey trapped inside a ball like a hamster. And the timing couldn’t have been better with the release of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz for the PlayStation Vita. Yes, it seems that even after so many years, this little monkey still has the balls to roll into action.
Since the premise of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz is basic, so are the controls. That’s because you are essentially tilting the platform around in order to move the ball containing your monkey. With that in mind, the game grants you the option of using the left stick or the PlayStation Vita’s gyroscope. The former control scheme works like a charm for those that are familiar with Super Monkey Ball on the home consoles. However, for those who are accustomed to the handheld style of movement, the motion control would be more suitable. Although the feel and accuracy may not be perfect via either method, they’re still adequate enough for any player to get by.
Cute and adorable creatures populate the screen displayed by the gameplay from Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz. The beautiful background and relatively high-detailed textures have a mighty impressive appearance throughout. Although the game is not going to be blasting away with explosions and splatters, it still manages to captivate players with a nice diversity of solid colours. That could very well explain why it runs without any hiccups in frame rate.
As for the audio department, the sound effects do a great job fitting in and performing their function. The music also manages to keep itself from being repetitive and tedious, but at the same time it’s not going to rate as memorable or outstanding.
Just like the other games in this series, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz has you manipulating the platform, which in turn controls the way your monkey inside the ball moves. The objective is straightforward: reach the goal before the time limit runs out. Along the way, you can collect bananas that are lying around to enhance your score. However, if you let your monkey fall off the edge, you lose and will have to restart the level. So, you better not “monkey” around too much!
While Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz may seem easy and short from the beginning, the levels get progressively more difficult since puzzles are also thrown in the mix. There are even secret pathways and exits that could significantly improve your score. Hence, players are encouraged to replay levels they’ve previously completed to beat their times and make those discoveries. Considering that there are at least 100 levels, Super Monkey Ball will have players going “bananas” over the amount of content available.
The inclusion of online leaderboards also reinforces the game’s replay value and, in effect, increases its longevity. On top of that, you have the option of playing with three other individuals via online multiplayer or an ad-hoc connection. So it’s not only single-player sessions that you’re subjected to here. In fact, Banana Splitz will have you breaking out of your shell and participating with the online community.
Where this particular game stands out from the other consoles’ versions is the level creation feature. After capturing a photo with the PlayStation Vita’s camera, a level is generated randomly, which you’ll then be able to upload and share with others online. While you won’t be able to exercise your creativity a whole lot, this is still a welcomed feature.
COMPLETE DLC BUNDLE
Sega has also given some extra content that’s available separately, though it’s specifically for use in the level creator. So far, there are eight different packs that supposedly enhance and add to the levels you create. For instance, you can add a statue of Sonic the Hedgehog or the SEGA Genesis in the middle of the floor. The packs are pretty cheap and are a sound value; they can all be purchased for US$1.99 as a complete DLC bundle. However, you may want to pass on this if you’re not too keen on the level creation aspect of this game.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz continues to please with its plentiful content for the PlayStation Vita. It provides an experience that’s fun, especially if you’re a fan of this series, and appropriate for all ages.