Ranking the Ten Mini-Games in Banana Blitz HD - PreviewEvan Norris , posted on 24 October 2019 / 2,380 Views
When it comes to mini-games, the original Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz was very much a quantity-over-quality affair. Fifty games came bundled with the Wii launch game, but few had enough staying power to remain in regular rotation. As part of its HD remastering of Banana Blitz, which includes new modes, a revamped UI, and reworked controls, SEGA decided to cut the long list of 50 down to 10 of the most popular mini-games. Those that relied heavily on motion controls were especially expendable, now that the Wiimote is a thing of the past. So long, Frog Ball!
The remaining 10 aren't world-beaters, but together they're a more memorable and coherent set, especially when paired with Banana Blitz HD's all-new Mini-Game Decathalon Score Attack mode. After spending a few days with these mini-games—playing solo and with friends—I've managed to rank them from weakest to strongest, to give you a sense of what to expect when the remaster lands on PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One October 29th.
The most aggravating mini-game is Hovercraft Race (10). In this game, players move hovercrafts over slick surfaces in an arena filled with obstacles and flags. Run into the most flags and you win. The primary offenders here are difficult controls and floaty movement. You'll need to use both analog sticks to steer—two sticks up for forward movement, two sticks down for backward movement, left stick up and right stick down to turn right, and so on. It's an awkward, counter-intuitive system made worse by floaty movement. Even if you master the controls, momentum will send your craft every way but where you want to go.
Controls are similarly a problem for the next two mini-games: Hurdle Race (9) and Monkey Snowboard (8). Hurdle Race is actually a game that worked better with motion controls, where back in 2006 you'd wave your arms up and down (holding the Wiimote and Nunchuk) to build up momentum. Those commands are now mapped to the left and right bumpers, and it's decidedly less fun. Then there's Monkey Snowboard, which should be among the best mini-games, but due to alternately stiff and sensitive controls it lands in the bottom half. The vertical splitscreen in multiplayer mode also works against it, as players on both sides must take sharp turns without seeing the full course.
Seesaw Ball (7) is more successful. Here, players guide their monkey-in-a-ball down several floating seesaws, some of which hold bananas. With three courses and a fair bit of strategic gameplay—you're scored based on bananas collected, time to finish, and where on the bottom bullseye you land—it's a decent addition to the party game line-up. So too is Slingshot (6), a short-but-sweet battle to hurl your monkey against stationary and moving targets using an oversized slingshot.
Hammer Throw (5), one of my favorites from the Wii original, is as good as ever. Designed like Olympic hammer-throwing, it tasks players with building up speed and momentum and then launching a hammer as far as possible—without stepping over the line and committing a foul. Dangerous Route (4) is more of a traditional Monkey Ball experience, as you'll guide your monkey along one of three narrow, winding courses in a top-down perspective. It requires a lot of precision and perseverance; fall off and it's all the way back to the last checkpoint. Removing motion controls from this one makes things a lot more fun.
While not terribly exciting in single-player mode, Whack-a-Mole (3) might just be the most entertaining multiplayer mini-game. Here players move floating hammers around the screen and hope to pummel cartoon moles that emerge from several holes. Pro tip: aim for the blue moles as they're worth up to 150 points each. Space Monkey Attack (2), meanwhile, is great fun solo or with friends. Essentially a vertically scrolling space shooter, it finds spacebound monkeys shooting down enemy ships among the stars.
The best of the bunch is Monkey Target (1). Sure, it's watered-down compared to the versions in Super Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball 2 (I can't tell you how many hours in college my friends and I competed over top scores in Monkey Target on GameCube) but it still captures the joy of a perfect approach, the terror of knowing you won't make the landing platform, and the thrill of earning bragging rights over your opponents.
Thanks for checking out this list, and stay tuned for our official review on October 29th!