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"Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz [PS Vita]"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz'.
Thu 15/11/12 at 15:59
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,985
SEGA's Super Monkey Ball series began life as a Gamecube release title. It also happened to be one of the best release games in a fairly strong line-up and, alongside its sequel, still stands as the best in the series.

Since then, subsequent games in the series have failed to live up to their predecessor in one way or another. I know this as I've played them all, from the Wii's Balance Board attempts to the 3DS oddity and, yes, even the awful PSP adventure.

What hope, then, for another handheld version on a console crying out for yet more gimmicks with its back and front touch screens and gyro sensor? Well, blow me down if it hasn't turned out to be the best game since the original.

The game doesn't immediately start out on the right foot, though. The menu is clumsy at best, requiring far too many swipes left and right and more sub-menus than it knows what to do with, but when you finally get to the last, most important, menu it's a clear choice between the main game and mini games.

Luckily, the main game seems to have been built with an eye for everything that worked best in the series; long narrow platforms with precariously placed gaps, slopes that send you hurtling back down if taken at the wrong speed and well positioned barriers that knock you back the other way like some mad monkey pinball machine.

Add to this a few new features, including scenery that moves and becomes an obstacle in itself, and you have a well balanced campaign mode, split in to difficulty levels to provide a greater sense of achievement on completing each stage.

A create mode is hidden away in the single player menu which promises much bit delivers much less. Instead of the ability to create your own stages, it simply uses a picture taken with the camera to auto-generate a stage, though you do get to upload and download stages to share them with others. A full-on stage editor would have been a very welcome addition.

Controls in this mode can be switched between tilt, using the gyro to move around, and analogue stick. The stick is far more accurate and I've no doubt will end up the option of choice for many players, but it's good to have the tilt option there and it's certainly good enough to be worth a try.

The inclusion of certain mini-games (or, in some versions, the lack of them) is where previous games have fallen down but the selection on offer for the Vita game mixes the best of the old classics with a bunch of new games, some of which make use of the new controls.

The two classic games of note are Monkey flight, where you need to glide your monkey on to the target, and monkey bowling. Flight is a tried and tested game with a few novel twists to the formula thanks to extra modes on offer, while bowling has a great control system that uses the tilt and touch abilities of the Vita to its advantage.

The rest of the games are either good or slightly more throw-away attempts, with rodeo and the air hockey based mini-games standing out as fun little extras that will keep you coming back after completing the main game. But this has long been the balancing act of Super Monkey Ball games and the good far outweigh the bad in this effort.

Both mini-games and the main game can be played in multiplayer, as a score attack game in the latter and both for scores and in realtime battles in some of the mini-games. Rather neatly, the game allows you to play both on a single Vita and across several devices.

Graphically, Banana Splitz has everything you could expect from a Super Monkey Ball game. It's brightly coloured, has plenty of nice little touches with themed levels and some great looking courses and there's a neat cardboard style throughout.

It also suffers from the exact same issue that all other Super Monkey Ball games suffer from, namely that the courses, once completed, hold limited replay value unless you fancy chasing scores. But the mini games and multiplayer help to add extra length to this and there are multiple downloadable level packs planned, 2 of which have already appeared at the time of review.

8/10
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Thu 15/11/12 at 15:59
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,985
SEGA's Super Monkey Ball series began life as a Gamecube release title. It also happened to be one of the best release games in a fairly strong line-up and, alongside its sequel, still stands as the best in the series.

Since then, subsequent games in the series have failed to live up to their predecessor in one way or another. I know this as I've played them all, from the Wii's Balance Board attempts to the 3DS oddity and, yes, even the awful PSP adventure.

What hope, then, for another handheld version on a console crying out for yet more gimmicks with its back and front touch screens and gyro sensor? Well, blow me down if it hasn't turned out to be the best game since the original.

The game doesn't immediately start out on the right foot, though. The menu is clumsy at best, requiring far too many swipes left and right and more sub-menus than it knows what to do with, but when you finally get to the last, most important, menu it's a clear choice between the main game and mini games.

Luckily, the main game seems to have been built with an eye for everything that worked best in the series; long narrow platforms with precariously placed gaps, slopes that send you hurtling back down if taken at the wrong speed and well positioned barriers that knock you back the other way like some mad monkey pinball machine.

Add to this a few new features, including scenery that moves and becomes an obstacle in itself, and you have a well balanced campaign mode, split in to difficulty levels to provide a greater sense of achievement on completing each stage.

A create mode is hidden away in the single player menu which promises much bit delivers much less. Instead of the ability to create your own stages, it simply uses a picture taken with the camera to auto-generate a stage, though you do get to upload and download stages to share them with others. A full-on stage editor would have been a very welcome addition.

Controls in this mode can be switched between tilt, using the gyro to move around, and analogue stick. The stick is far more accurate and I've no doubt will end up the option of choice for many players, but it's good to have the tilt option there and it's certainly good enough to be worth a try.

The inclusion of certain mini-games (or, in some versions, the lack of them) is where previous games have fallen down but the selection on offer for the Vita game mixes the best of the old classics with a bunch of new games, some of which make use of the new controls.

The two classic games of note are Monkey flight, where you need to glide your monkey on to the target, and monkey bowling. Flight is a tried and tested game with a few novel twists to the formula thanks to extra modes on offer, while bowling has a great control system that uses the tilt and touch abilities of the Vita to its advantage.

The rest of the games are either good or slightly more throw-away attempts, with rodeo and the air hockey based mini-games standing out as fun little extras that will keep you coming back after completing the main game. But this has long been the balancing act of Super Monkey Ball games and the good far outweigh the bad in this effort.

Both mini-games and the main game can be played in multiplayer, as a score attack game in the latter and both for scores and in realtime battles in some of the mini-games. Rather neatly, the game allows you to play both on a single Vita and across several devices.

Graphically, Banana Splitz has everything you could expect from a Super Monkey Ball game. It's brightly coloured, has plenty of nice little touches with themed levels and some great looking courses and there's a neat cardboard style throughout.

It also suffers from the exact same issue that all other Super Monkey Ball games suffer from, namely that the courses, once completed, hold limited replay value unless you fancy chasing scores. But the mini games and multiplayer help to add extra length to this and there are multiple downloadable level packs planned, 2 of which have already appeared at the time of review.

8/10

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