Since the original Super Monkey Ball released on the Nintendo GameCube all those year ago many iterations of the series have made their way to different platforms. From Super Monkey Ball Deluxe on the PlayStation 2 to Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll on the Wii, the series has been everywhere. Queue the latest version of the adorable monkeys, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz for the PlayStation Vita. SEGA’s bringing the latest entry as a summer 2012 title to the ever growing PlayStation Vita game list, bringing a wealth of stages, unique Vita features and crisp graphics.
In this package you will get the usual faces from the Super Monkey Ball series, off the bat you’ve got AiAi, MeeMee, GonGon and several others. This particular game reverts back to the familiar monkey in a ball-style gameplay. The PlayStation Vita gives you two methods of controls, one is the familiar analog controls where your move the stick forward to move the monkey ball around; the second makes use of the Vita’s gyroscope and brings the player into the motion control realm as you tilt and weave to steer your monkey ball. The latter offers a great experience and makes for a fun way to play the game over the conventional analog setup.
The main idea behind the game is that of previous titles; you guide your monkey ball from A to B, collecting bananas on the way to total up your high score. The developers seem to have decided on a level design that features scenes from different time lapses. One set of levels could feature jungles and plants whereas another could feature materials such as clay, metal or cardboard; all differentiating scenes bring different conditions and elements to the level, creating a slight uniqueness about each one.
Level variety seems to be as diverse as ever. Many of levels feature snaking avenues and bridges that prove a stern test to keep your lives in high numbers while other levels feature wide open spaces which test your nerve on whether to save time and finish the level or collect bananas and rack up a decent high score. Certain levels will have you collecting bananas in one direction only to hit a dead end and spin back in the other direction. Aside from that, if you are a real Super Monkey ball fan, then the ridiculously hard levels you so dearly love will also be in the game.
Classic mini games make a return, Monkey Bingo and number ball are included to but name two. During our time with the game we played the famous Monkey Target game; here you are tasked with landing your monkey as close to the bulls-eye as possible. At the start of this particular game you initiate flight by rolling your monkey ball down the ramp then pressing X to open the ball at the peak of your jump, gliding to the target ever so slowly, as well as collecting bananas on the way.
Alongside the main gameplay SEGA has instilled some Vita feature game modes. One has you use the front facing or rear facing camera to create levels from objects you snap, yes you heard correct. In the demo we were shown, the developer used the Vita to snap a picture of a pair of headphones, the game processed this image and created a whirlwind course with several elevations. This mode stood out and when combined with the upload level feature will no doubt be popular. The Vita’s multiplayer mode gives a different variety to those modes found in the main game. From here two players can play a game where monkey balls are linked and have to make it to the end of the maze keeping the connection intact. Controls are simple in the form of one player controlling the one monkey with the left stick while the other monkey is being controlled via the right stick by player 2. This is just one of the multiplayer modes the game has to offer and it’s a very fun one to begin with.
Visuals in Super Monkey Ball are crisp to say the least. The Vita’s OLED screen displays the visuals of the game in a bright, rich format. The framerate also hold ups well with little-to-no dips in the frame rate. Models are as you’d expect, with the series famed cartoon style taking centre stage once again.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz is a decent addition to the Vita’s game line-up. Combining some great features with classic gameplay this overall package delivers a solid and fun game and should be considered upon its launch.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz is due sometime in the summer of 2012 exclusively on the PlayStation Vita. You can pre-order your copy here.