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Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble Review: A Barrel Of Fun

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (version reviewed)
Genre: Adventure, Fast-Paced, 3D Platformer

Over the past decade, the Super Monkey Ball franchise has been relatively quiet outside of remasters and remakes. At a certain point, it seemed as if the lovable AiAi and his crew of monkeys had become obsolete, having no place in the current gaming landscape. Luckily, SEGA’s Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble demonstrates that the franchise still maintains its flair for delivering an enjoyable, challenging, and satisfying experience.

Monkey-ing Around

When I first tried Super Monkey Ball, I jumped into Adventure Mode, which offers co-op play for up to 4 players across 200 stages in 5 different Worlds. The stages are unique, and some are just death-defying, and completing one feels like making the impossible possible. The story unfolds with AiAi and his crew helping Palette search for her missing dad, who’s on a quest for the legendary banana. It’s a wild ride as they travel the world in search of the prized fruit.

The game starts with a tutorial on controlling the magic ball and introduces a new spin dash move that adds some serious speed. You can do crazy stunts like going off ramps and lips to rocket through the goal of getting the golden banana and reaching the finish line. However, this move requires quick reflexes, as falling off course means restarting the level. Some levels demand strategic moves, while others are more straightforward – collect bananas, avoid falling, and reach the finish line before time runs out.

Players progress from easy-to-learn stages to difficult-to-master hallmarks. It can get addictive at first playing solo since it is easy to complete them. By the time you’re at the World 3 section, the stages get tough and much more creative. For someone competitive in Mario Kart, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble easily beats Mario when it comes to the out-of-this-world level designs. Completing each World (consists of 10 stages) grants you the World’s OOPArt and Time Attack mode. While Adventure Mode can get pretty tough, the Helper Functions are a lifesaver. However, some stages require strategic play, and even with the use of Helper Functions, there is still not enough hint to complete the stage.

Each collected banana over these stages acts as currency to purchase outfits and accessories to customize your character. From gloves, hats, and outfits, to the banana effect, players can purchase to their hearts’ desire as long as they have enough points. It is indeed a nice personal touch to your character, but besides that, it doesn’t help to increase your character’s stats. I wish there was more room for character progression in terms of stats adjustments. For now, AiAi seems the easiest to control since his stats are the same for speed, brake, weight, and spin.

Primate Fun

In addition to Adventure Mode, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble features engaging side-party games like Monkey Race, Banana Hunt, Ba-BOOM!, and Robot Smash. These side activities offer an enjoyable and competitive experience, both online and offline. The Ba-Boom provides a fun survival-based tag variation – pass the bomb to other players before it explodes. Goal Rush challenges your precision and mettle as you roll down a hill, activating gates in a high-risk, high-reward blitz.

The other two battle modes, Banana Hunt and Robot Smash, have you collecting the most bananas in a time period, and the latter gets you to launch into robots to deal with as much damage as possible. Robot Smash and Ba Boom were my favourites. They are straightforward, and there is no finish line to catch up to. It’s a great way if you want a fast playthrough without having to think much.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble is a riot – a fun party game with crazy stunts and iconic characters. It’s a great balance of nostalgia and a modern experience, reminding players of the good old days while offering something fresh.

 

Pros

  • Vivid graphics.
  • Intuitive controls and flexibility to control camera angle.
  • Party games are a blast to play solo or with friends.

Cons

  • Some stages require strategic thinking and lots of experimentation.
  • The Helper Function is not much, well, help.

 

Final Score: 70/100

Review copy provided by the publisher. The game has been released for Nintendo Switch on 25 June 2024.

 

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