Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz – Review

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Some series just won’t back down, no matter how harsh the criticism gets, no matter how low they, err, go. Super Monkey Ball in particular has been around for ages and has been released and re-released on almost any modern system. But let’s get the ball rolling, shall we.

The problem with Super Monkey Ball has always been that it’s a game that almost entirely depends on the current level director’s creativity. You’re always ‘just’ moving a caged, helpless primate around colorful levels. It’s a tedious process, not matter how you look at it. Level design is and always will be what makes or breaks this game.

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That’s why adding cumbersome maneuvers and puzzles has always been the worst thing to happen to the series (we absolutely loathe Super Monkey Ball 2 for those). It’s always been about the basics. Thankfully Banana Splitz goes straight back to them.

Casting aside the optional, and completely useless, gyro-controls, controlling AiAi, MeeMee, Baby or GonGon through numerous theme-worlds is painstakingly flawless. Painstakingly, because once the difficulty picks up you’ll be falling to certain monkey-doom soon enough. Worst of all: it’ll always be your own fault.

Never blame the game.

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It’s a vibrant game. One with multi-colored levels that look absolutely stunning on the Vita’s OLED-screen. It’s also much better suited to play on the go rather than by pointing a Wii-mote at a TV like in other recent outings. The routes and mazes are small enough to play in short bursts and trying to beat your highscore while trying to grab all the bananas adds a ton of replayability.

New to this Vita-version are several mini- and party-games. Our two favorites are Monkey Bowling (flip your handheld 90 degrees) and Love Test, which has you navigating two monkeys through a maze at the same time while trying to leave neither behind.

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There also a neat Edit Mode that allows you to photograph whatever sparks your interest, creating a random level based on whatever it is you snapped.

All in all the formula does its best to return to its days of glory. While it still can’t fully grasp the charm and inventiveness it once had, it does make for a great trip down memory lane.

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