Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania Review – Fresh And A-peel-ing

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is, at its core, a repackaging of the GameCube’s Super Monkey Ball 1 and 2 (including a smattering of extra stages from the PS2/Xbox title Super Monkey Ball Deluxe) with a fresh coat of paint. The gameplay and stage layouts, with a few exceptions, remain the same as they were 20 years ago, but now in crisp and shiny high resolution. And, really, that would be fine on its own, as the engaging, pick-up-and-play charm of rolling a cartoon monkey around various imaginative challenges remains every bit as fun now as it was two decades prior.

However, Sega has also seen fit to update elements of the gameplay to broaden Super Monkey Ball’s already wide appeal. Gone are the lives and continues of previous Super Monkey Ball games, removing a source of pressure and frustration. Instead, you have infinite tries to work out each level, though you’ll still need to restart from the beginning should your monkey roll out of bounds. You are also given the option of a Helper Mode system, which doubles your time, shows you an ideal path through the level, and enables a slow-motion feature should you choose to turn it on. It’s a nice form of “training wheels” for getting a handle on some of the more difficult stages that doesn’t go completely overboard in holding your hand–though the game pestering you about turning on Helper Mode on each stage you fall out of more than a few times grows old very fast.

There’s a catch to using the Helper Mode. In the older games, you’d need to complete a set of stages without using a continue to unlock the hidden EX levels. Since lives and continues are no more, Banana Mania instead rewards you with EX levels for completing a gauntlet of stages without the use of Helper Mode, encouraging you to finish those tough stages without additional assistance. Turning on Helper Mode also disqualifies you from the online leaderboard rankings and prevents the game from saving your score. It’s a nice way to keep things from getting too frustrating while encouraging players to attempt a tougher challenge later.

Continue Reading at GameSpot

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