Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble Review – Balls to the Wall

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble Review

After rolling to success on the Gamecube, Super Monkey Ball has struggled to recapture the same magic with its sequels. Building on the success of remakes and remasters, Sega is now bringing the beloved apes back for their first new release in 12 years. Developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku, Banana Rumble looks to revitalize the series with new mechanics to enhance gameplay and crank up the chaos for its multiplayer modes. With its commitment to authentic modernization, will the game manage to recapture the hearts of long-time fans and attract a new generation of players?

With fully animated cutscenes and a brand new character, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble’s Adventure Mode follows the team as they join forces to find the Legendary Banana. Scenes bookend each world to ensure the narrative stays prominent throughout. While the story is basic and not the main focus for players, it’s nice to see the effort that Ryu Ga Gotoku has gone to in order to create a comprehensive tale. This helps to add context for your trip to strange and wonderful worlds as you venture through mazes and collect bananas along the way.

Rolling Towards Victory

Each stage challenges you to avoid obstacles while trying to stay on the platform and veer towards the goal. Although your objective is to reach the end, there are additional missions such as collecting all the bananas, completing the level within a particular time limit and grabbing the golden banana. Completing all of these in one go is impossible, which gives the incentive to replay stages. The difficulty steadily increases as the worlds become more varied adding new mechanics to challenge your wits and skill. Each zone includes a gimmick that helps to distinguish it from others. With buttons to control platforms, invisible surfaces and much more, the latest entry in the franchise features some of the best courses in the history of the series.

Courses are designed to suit a range of playstyles. If you strive to find shortcuts and slingshot across the map in one manoeuvre then you’re in luck. After completing each world, you unlock a time trial mode so that you can post your fastest time. It’s a thrill to try to reach the end as quickly as possible as you’ll need to experiment with the game’s physics and work out the optimal speed and areas to bounce in order to reach your destination. However, if that’s not your forte and you prefer a steady stroll to the finish, then assist options are available. These include checkpoints, guides and rewind features which will help you cross the line on courses you’re struggling with. As Monkey Ball can get a little frustrating, it’s great to see a feature added that supports you with the process and ultimately makes the game more accessible.

Going Bananas

After completing the campaign, you unlock EX versions of each world. These are not just small alterations, they are effectively a brand new challenging campaign. Paths are narrow, gaps are larger and you will need adept control to keep your Monkey safe. The learning curve is extremely well designed as by the end, you’ll understand how to control your ape at pivotal points. In fact, each character has specific attributes which may be more beneficial for certain maps. Towards the later levels, I found myself switching between characters to find the most suitable primate for the job.

The series has experimented with new mechanics to add variety. While most have failed, the Spin Dash works perfectly. If you hold down the button, you can boost across the terrain, allowing you to leap towards shortcuts and reach elevated areas. Combined with the intuitive controls, this allows you to experiment on every course, making it a joy to discover the quickest route from A to B.

Monkeying Around

While the single-player portion is a resounding success, the multiplayer elements fail to capture the frantic fun of the originals. Race is a staple of the series and its implementation is similar to previous iterations. You must speed your way around the course to achieve the best time. Banana Hunt is a chase to get the most fruit in the designated time limit and Robot Smash sees you work with others to destroy the most robots. The two stand-out modes are Ba-Boom where you chase or run away from players with explosives and Gold Rush, where you roll down a course toward the highest gate. While enjoyable, the activities maintain a similar pace. In previous entries, games like Target added a chilled, serene aspect which is missing from this release. In addition, the frame rate drops with the multiplayer element making it feel sluggish.

The signature cute design is in full swing with brightly colored environments and its adorable cast. The game goes a step further as you can purchase costume items to dress up your monkey so that you can style your way through each course. Although the overall presentation sticks firmly to its roots, it manages to deliver a strong aesthetic that blends classic charm with modern vibrancy.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble is the return to form that fans have been waiting for. Courses develop in their complexity in order to create the best single-player campaign since the sophomore release. While the multiplayer portion includes new minigames, it struggles to maintain the same level of engagement and longevity as the originals. Despite that, the dedication to improving the franchise’s gameplay mechanics ensures it’s a significant addition for both longtime fans and newcomers alike.

***A Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher for review***

The Good

  • Well Designed Courses
  • A Ton of Single-Player Content
  • The Spin Dash Adds Lots of Possibilities

The Bad

  • Frame Rate Drops with Multiplayer
  • Missing Classic Multiplayer Modes
  • New Minigames Are Hit and Miss