Sunday, November 03, 2019

"Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD" Review

Sega's "Super Monkey Ball" series has always thrived on a simple concept, which branched off the dynamic established by "Marble Madness."

Guiding your adorable spherical protagonist through platform and obstacle-filled mazes, you strive to achieve the best time and score possible via a combination of trial and error, twitch reflexes and sheer luck.Replayability is key, because taking on the same levels time after time would be a chore unless their design lent themselves to unbridled fun. Sega has usually succeeded at that task, and that's why the franchise continues to roll into current-gen consoles.

A high-definition remaster of the 2006 Wii game, "Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD" recaptures the hyperactive tone of the original, adding significant upgrades in visuals and sound.

At its heart, the game is a series of puzzle labyrinths with only marginal variance in the skills and routines needed to conquer them. The charm comes from the fine details. The cartoonish ambiance and the slapstick physics lead to instant gratification or comical failure, and both extremes can be equally entertaining.

In the flood of HD remasters that have come to newer consoles -- particularly the Switch -- the better redesigns have been bolstered by extras, such as historical featurettes, alternate play modes or anthologies that included past games. "Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD," which is a straight-up remake without few augmentation or extras -- save for online leaderboards and a decathlon mode -- comes up light in that regard. For better or worse, this is a game strictly for fans of the original who want to re-experience it on the Switch.

Since so many Wii owners seem to look back on the game wistfully, there is probably a sizable audience eager to get rolling again. As long as they don't come in expecting more than what they remember, they'll be satisfied to guide the monkey ball once more.

Publisher provided review code.

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