Twenty years ago, Sega published a little game that would go on to be a minor phenomenon, Super Monkey Ball. The plot thin puzzle game was candy for young eyes and featured a unique tilt mechanic that helped it stand out in the crowd.
My first experience with the oddity of a franchise was on the Nintendo DS, and I was hooked. The game was easy to pick up and play, and the puzzles were short, challenging, and endlessly addictive. And for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you the names of any characters or what the “plot” of the story mode was. I just didn’t care.
On October 1st, Sega released Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, a twentieth-anniversary celebration of the franchise that remasters the older games and adds a few new surprises. Long story short, I’ve become hooked once again.
The back packaging promises over 300 puzzles. I’m yet to crack 100 a few hours in. The tilt world puzzles range from surprisingly simple to mystifyingly impossible. One, in particular, I had to “mark as completed” because the frustration of lining my monkey up and having it smacked up a wall while the camera turned at uncontrollable angles proved too great.
Aside from those minor camera issues, the game is bliss. I still can’t tell you the names of the characters or the plot. The story is about an evil scientist monkey stealing all the bananas so you have to solve puzzles to win them back and defeat him (I think). What’s most important is this – the magic that began 20 years still exists today.
The animation is crisp and more beautiful and innocent than ever in 2021, and the music is infectiously bright. The puzzles are still quick, making it easy to play on the run or play for five minutes before you go on a run. I haven’t rolled my way into the new features yet, but from what I gather, they optimize online play if that’s your banana split.
Oh, and at some point, I’ll unlock Sonic and Tails and be able to use a hedgehog instead of a monkey. Sonic The Hedgehog Ball Banana Mania sounds like a game I would buy before reading any reviews.