Going Bananas for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania

Huge game announcements have been made in the past month, but one game seems to be left out, and that is Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, is it really worth picking up? Or was there a reason it was left on the sidelines?

The game cover for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania. Fun fact: the cover features little snippets of each level in the game.

SEGA Group Corporation

The game cover for Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania. Fun fact: the cover features little snippets of each level in the game.

Sofia Boughton, Staff Writer

There have been a huge amount video game announcements for the past month, but one video game that seems to be underlooked this past October is Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania is a 3D puzzle, action, party, and racing game all combined into one! Super Monkey Ball is a game that has players play as, well, a monkey in a ball, solving puzzles, or the course that is being travelled on under a certain time limit. There are also multiplayer options, with racing, tennis, and billiards being some of the multiplayer games.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania was released on October 1th, 2021, released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC for $39.99. The game was developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio of SEGA who works on the ‘Yakuza’ series, with the promotional animation done by Powerhouse Animation, who also worked on the animated series Castlevania, and Masters of the Universe: Revelation. To see the trailer, view it here.

This video game was made as a love letter for Super Monkey Ball fans, with the franchise being not as well known amongst a majority video game players, this is also a fantastic introduction into the series as well. The games main goal was to remaster classic Super Monkey Ball levels and environments, and put them on a modern console with updated character models and visuals in order to appeal to a modern audience.

Before Banana Mania, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD was released, and it was a decent success sales wise and mainly three star rankings for reviews, but this showed SEGA, the creator of the franchise, there was still some interest in the Super Monkey Ball franchise. With Monkey Ball’s 20th anniversary coming up around that time, it was almost a go-to thought to make an HD remaster some of the oldest games in the franchise.

The game, amongst critics, was given very decent reviews, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania currently standing at an 88% ranking on Google Reviews, and a 4-star ranking on MetaCritic. With those decent reviews, many can assume that this game was very well crafted to get that much success.

I personally had a very enjoyable time while playing this video game with my Dad, since me and my Dad used to play the original Super Monkey Ball for the GameCube. While opening up the game, there was a cute little book that came with the game, showing the history of Monkey Ball and concept art for all of the characters in the animated trailer, which was a very nice touch, and really hit home in the nostalgic part of my heart for this franchise. When first booting the game up, the colors and visuals of the game were so much better than previous entries, including Banana Blitz HD.

While admiring the visuals of the game, there was a plethora of customization options for decorating the characters. There were even characters from other franchises that appear in this game, like Sonic and Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, and even Hello Kitty, which is pretty surreal to say that Hello Kitty is in a puzzle game featuring monkeys in a ball, but it is gladly welcomed.

The game, in my personal opinion, was a very fun playthrough, playing only 50 of the 200 levels that are included in the game, which is a big number, and would take a while to finish, making the replayability of this game very high. As many would expect, the game does start to get a bit challenging after the first 30 levels. Having to use lots of critical thinking to solve some of the puzzles. What is so amazing about this game, is it wants you to break its level design, and go out of course boundaries to complete the course in the fastest time possible, which is what usually video games discourage players to do, which is a really neat concept. In general, me and my Dad had a very enjoyable time with this game so far, and will most likely be playing the game for a long while from now.

Since I most likely have somewhat of a bias to this game franchise, I asked a few students in the theatre auditorium to play the game briefly, “I like how there’s Sonic characters playable, which is pretty neat. I did like some of the visuals, they were nice and pleasing to look at,”sophomore Kenny Woltemath said.

The game definitely was visually appealing, as stated earlier, so it is no wonder why it is the first thing so many people point out. “It was very colorful, it was very pleasing to the eye, I really liked that about it,” said freshman Brooke Kusmec.

Obviously when a video game has positives, there are some negatives, “You control the board, not the character, which was a bit confusing at first,” Kenny said. Monkey Ball has always had someone controlling the board rather than the ball, simulating the ball-in-a-maze puzzle game. Since the game does not tell the player about that, it states the specific analog stick is used to move the character, rather than the board, which can be a bit disorienting to beginning players.

“It was really hard,” Brooke said, “because I really do not know much about the game or many video games at all.”

Super Monkey Ball is not very beginner-friendly, however with a little bit of video game knowledge, it should be a bit easier to play, this video game is definitely not for beginners, but definitely a fun challenge.  “I enjoyed the game, but maybe if I had understood the mechanics better, it would’ve been a much more enjoyable time,” Kenny said.

With the video game’s mechanics being a bit challenging to newcomers, if they were given more time with the game, there probably would have been a bit more success with the game. “It was okay, I don’t really have a reason, I am not super into video games, but if I was into video games more, I think I would enjoy it more,” Brooke said.

If Super Monkey Ball was perceived so decently amongst the others that played it, why is it being so swept under the rug? There were so many video game announcements in late September and early October. For Example, The Smash Brothers Ultimate DLC Fighters Pass announced their last fighter: Sora from Kingdom Hearts, Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl also released around the same time. Not to mention, Deltarune Chapter 2 was still a new, popular video game, and still is currently a popular release. Finally, Metroid Dread’s hype seemed to be very exciting for many Nintendo fans, leaving Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania on the sidelines.

Even though the game seems to be getting many positive reviews, it seems many other video games are getting the spotlight. That does not mean it was not a bad video game, it just means not as many people are seeing the game for themselves.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania has been a bit underrated for the past month, and sometimes the most underlooked games beneath the surface are some of the most underrated ones. Which is why this new Super Monkey Ball game should be given a shot, even if someone does not know anything about the series