Games: Super Monkey Ball – Banana Blitz ripe for HD reboot
PREVIEW: Super Monkey Ball – Banana Blitz HD (Multi)
APOLOGIES to any seeing-eye dogs or dancing bears out there, but monkeys are surely the hardest-working of god's creatures. When not flinging faeces at zoo-goers or tormenting kids from wardrobes, our Darwinian cousins are tarting themselves up like harlots in cosmetic labs.
And yet we laughed when, in a brainstorm of pitching, Alan Partridge suggested Monkey Tennis before shoving a wheel of cheddar into a BBC commissioner's face. While his other notions – Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave and Inner-City Sumo – remain undeveloped, Monkey Tennis did become reality a mere four years later, courtesy of arcade kings Sega.
One of the best Gamecube launch titles, Super Monkey Ball saw tiny chimps crammed inside plastic globes, rolling their merry way through a series of party games. And, though the series has languished on mobile platforms for the last decade, its pixelated primates are being resurrected with a full-fat console remaster of the 2006 Wii launch title Banana Blitz.
Apart from making full use of the Wii's motion controls, Banana Blitz was monkey-business as usual, meaning more obstacle courses against the clock as you guided the banana-munchers through 50 party games. This enhanced version promises updated high-def graphics for candy shop visuals brighter than a baboon's bum while "uniquely optimised control schemes for each platform" will thankfully do away with the Wii's notoriously unresponsive motion controls.
Given that some of the mini-games relied exclusively on mid-00s waggling, the final line-up for Banana Blitz HD is 10 lighter – down to a mere 40. Speedrun fiends can rejoice at a new Time Attack Mode, though, with online leaderboards to show off their simian skills.
Best of all, once multiplayer-only games from the original have been suited and booted for soloists in a brand-new Decathlon Mode, challenging players to win 10 in a row as the difficulty rises to challenge even higher functioning apes.
Opting for Banana Blitz over the superior originals for a modern remake honours seems an odd choice: bloated with quantity over quality mini-games, it lacked the purity of design which typified the first two titles.
Monkey Target – easily the best of the banana bunch – was short-changed with just one level while Monkey Tennis didn't even make the cut. Still, there's a lot of goodwill out there for Monkey Ball from gamers of a certain vintage and, with the right care, Sega's hairy humanoids could provide premium carry-out fuel for a brand new generation when they land on all formats on October 29.