Developer: Marvelous AQL
Release Date: 10/23/2012
Available Exclusively On
I love Super Monkey Ball. I remember playing this back on the PS2 and having a blast being OCD about collecting every banana in every stage. The GameBoy Advance version was probably my favorite of them all, but when I found out there was one for Vita I was quite intrigued.
Sadly, the fun didn’t last long. The game, for starters, hasn’t evolved one bit with the same tiled textured levels and blurry backgrounds. While the game looks decent on Vita it looks quite boring and bland. Outside of that, the controls feel somewhat off and the gyroscope and thumbstick controls just don’t feel right. Even the D-Pad controls on Super Monkey Ball Jr. worked well on a 16-bit handheld system, what happened? When using the thumbstick the levels move around so fast and is so jumpy it was nauseating just getting through a level. On top of that, the levels may seem challenging, but they just aren’t that well designed. It almost feels as if they were randomly generated and slapped into the game. You get 60 seconds to complete each level and get higher scores by collecting all the bananas or you can be brave and find a shortcut on some levels and jump down to the goal.
On top of all this, the mini-games are bland and boring and make no sense, and then the course editor doesn’t actually let you save courses and create your own from scratch so it feels pointless. Multiplayer is fun as always, but playing by yourself should always be enjoyable. I’m not sure if I’m just burnt out on SMB’s overall design that has stayed the same for nearly 2 decades or this is just a not so great version.
Banana Splitz could have been a definitive version of the series culminating nearly 2 decades of SMB into one fantastic game or reboot the series into something different. The game is somewhat enjoyable, but it always feels like something is missing or wrong with the game. The series is really stale at this point and unless something drastically changes I won’t be rolling around Sega’s classic series again.