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Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble review - dropped the ball

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble review - dropped the ball

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble review

It’s easy to forget that the Super Monkey Ball series has been around for over two decades, with its first launch arriving for the Nintendo GameCube and arcades back in 2001. I have fond memories of playing the original game in the series with friends and my now-wife. However, over the years, the developers of the series, Ryu Ga Gotoku (yes, the Yakuza/Like a Dragon studio) haven't changed the formula all that much. After all, as the old saying goes: “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” But is that approach enough in 2024?

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble, at least for the time being, is a Nintendo Switch exclusive and has four main modes, three of which are multiplayer-related. This is perhaps a good thing because anyone familiar with this series knows that multiplayer shenanigans are where the real fun is. We have local (up to four players), online and local communication multiplayer. The latter of which connects you to nearby players who aren't on your friends list. In each of these three modes, you have the choice of either Adventure (playable co-op) or Battle mode.

Check out the Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble trailer below!

There are five base Battle modes in Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble, Race, Banana Hunt, Ba-BOOM, Goal Rush and Robot Smash. Race and Banana Hunt do what they say on the tin. As for Ba-BOOM, this is a pass-the-bomb mode and when the time gets to zero, your monkey goes kaboom, unless you tag your opponent. Goal Rush requires you to race through more checkpoints than your opponents before the timer runs out and Robot Smash requires you to smash a robot with your ball more than your opponent to score points.

These modes are fun for a few times each, but even when playing with my family, the novelty soon wears off. That being said, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble does feature up to 16 online players in Battle mode, which sounds like fun. Sadly, I was only able to test the multiplayer modes for three players (including myself during the review). Disappointingly, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble has fewer Battle modes than the 2001 original so hopefully more modes will come with a free post-launch update but for now, I can only review what’s included in the game.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble/

Then we have Adventure mode, which is the main story campaign. The story of Adventure mode (playable with up to four players) is about as throwaway as you can get. In a nutshell, you're looking for a missing father who went on an expedition to find a legendary banana, that’s it. Adventure mode consists of multiple chapters with tons of courses to complete. It does feature cutscenes in an attempt to tell a story but after about five minutes, I started skipping the cutscenes because I just wanted to play the stages and I wasn't missing much by hitting the skip button.

That being said, I don't think any of us are here for the deep monkey SEGA lore to rival FromSoftware. I’m pretty sure we’re here to play Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble for its wacky and challenging courses. If you are here for that, you probably won't be surprised to know that this is where Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble shines the most. The levels start very basic but become more challenging the more you progress. You can complete the courses in the fastest time possible but you will earn bonus points for collecting bananas in each stage which can be spent in the in-game shop to customise your monkey in a ball. Once each stage is complete, you can then take on its Time Attack mode.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble/

There is a new move in Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble, and that’s the Spin Dash. Simply hold down B, point in the desired direction and let your monkey have the zoomies to speed through courses or access a shortcut. Other than that, this is pretty much the same Super Monkey Ball game from over two decades ago. Depending on your perspective, you might see it as a negative that the core gameplay of Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble hasn't changed all that much since 2001 but the same can be said for just about every game in the series. I’m here for the simple gameplay approach. If Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble flipped the gameplay, it would probably alienate returning players or could put off new players looking for something simple to play.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble is a fun game to play on your lonesome or with friends, even for an hour or so here and there. Just don't expect it to be a game-changer for the series because in truth, if that moment was ever going to happen, it would have happened many years before now.

Pros: Quick blast fun, easy to pick up and play

Cons: Lack of multiplayer modes, the novelty soon wears off

For Fans of: Super Monkey Ball (2001)

Score: 6/10: Good

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble will launch on 25 June for Nintendo Switch. A review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: SEGA

Topics: Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Reviews, Sega