Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble Review

Super Monkey Ball: banana Rumble header

It’s best not to think about the animal welfare questions that series like Super Monkey Ball and Pokémon raise. Do these animals like being in their balls? Have they chosen to be in balls? How do they eat and…. well, you know, in the balls? OK, that last one is a wild musing of my addled mind, but ever since the GameCube original, Super Monkey Ball has been putting simians in spheres and people have been loving it.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble starts, as many of these games have before, with letting you choose which ape to trap in an oversized hamster ball, before setting forth across a series of nefarious courses designed to send your furry friend hurtling to their doom. Fortunately, any missteps here only result in a return to the start, rather than a visit from animal protection.

Banana Rumble is just as joyously happy as its forebears, and the core formula remains as tricky and teeth-gnashingly frustrating as ever, while retaining that essential ‘one-more-go’ flavour to keep you coming back. This time you’re off to Juicy Island in search of the Legendary Banana. Now, this isn’t an island populated by ladies’ leggings, and there’s a smattering of Chaos Emerald about the Legendary Banana, but you can probably forget all about this narrative as you’ll be too busy trying not to fall off things.

Super Monkey Ball: banana Rumble adventure

The cast here, led by the indomitable AiAi, are as adorable as ever, but there’s a batch of newcomers to keep an eye on, both in single and multiplayer modes. Alongside borrowing the Chaos Emeralds, Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble also steals Sonic’s Spin Dash, allowing your monkeys to hurtle across the screen even faster, more easily overcoming small walls and ramps. They’re definitely falling off the level even more too.

Adventure mode has a narrative woven into it, though the adorable cutscenes are strangely low resolution, and if you’re looking for meaningful simian drama you’re probably better off with Planet of the Apes. A young female monkey Palette is looking for her father, and the Gala Family appear – a group of treasure hunters who have some unkind, banana-related putdowns to hand out to our beloved apes – but it’s safe to say that their nefarious deeds don’t really make any difference to the banana-collecting, goal-reaching action. Still, it’s all very cute.

There’s a clear emphasis on enjoying Monkey Ball Banana Rush with your friends, and every mode here can be played online or locally. Four players can team up for the adventure, with optional collisions to add a little more chaos, while the multiplayer Battle modes can have up to sixteen players, with AI bots able to fill out the room if you’re playing with the local limit of four. If you’re playing online, there’s either open lobbies or a simple six-character password to connect to a friend’s custom lobby, and everything runs surprisingly seamlessly, even if the Nintendo Switch isn’t able to keep as smooth a frame rate as you’d like during this.

Super Monkey Ball: banana Rumble race

Battle mode sees Monkey Ball Banana Rush go all Fall Guys, and turns in a series of different events where you’re aiming to come first or be on the better team. There’s five game modes, made up of Race, Banana Hunt, Ba-BOOM!, Goal Rush and Robot Smash! and they’re all pretty much as chaotic as you’d expect, with sixteen monkeys flying around the screen and bashing into each other as they try to collect another banana. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, whether playing with friends or strangers on the internet, though whether there’s going to be enough long-term appeal to keep coming back is questionable.

There is also an in-game season pass, though you only earn points by battling random people. Working through it unlocks new cosmetics and characters to use in the different modes. It’s appealing enough to deck out your monkey in cool sneakers and a wicked pair of shades, but it doesn’t feel hugely essential, particularly when you mostly see them from behind and inside a ball. Still, it adds a new tone to proceedings, and Goal Rush, in particular, got under my skin, as you race down hill and try to capture each goal for your team, while also trying to earn extra points with bonus goals while stopping your opponents from doing the same.

Super Monkey Ball: banana Rumble smash online

Besides fun with friends, repeat play hinges on you wanting to come back to Adventure Mode to better your times, collect more bananas, or achieve the different challenges that you’ll find in each level. This would probably be more compelling if you were told what these missions were the first time that you arrived at each level, but they’re all centred around collecting the golden banana, or picking up a specific number of bananas, so you do have some idea of what you’re supposed to be doing. In some cases, these goals are really tight with their timings, and in turn you can push the difficulty level up for yourself as you become ever more skillful. Time Attack mode also benefits from having online leaderboards, so you can see what insane times other people have posted.

Summary
Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble is a short and sweet addition to the Monkey Ball canon. There’s plenty of Monkey shenanigans to indulge in, and fans will no doubt love the new online modes, with the only true caveat being that this is still, unequivocally, more of the same Monkey Ball.
Good
  • Monkey Ball remains tricky and fun
  • Enjoyable online modes
  • Cute presentation
Bad
  • Iffy frame rate online
  • It's merely more of the same
7
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.

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