Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
I knew that controller was good for something...
Preview by Travis Fahs (Email)
May 15th 2006
The Basics: Nintendo's motion sensing controller has been met with its due share of skepticism and caution, but when Sega announced its intention to bring the Super Monkey Ball franchise to Nintendo's new console, everyone knew it was a match made in heaven. Sporting the classic arcade style tilt-n-roll gameplay with a newly added jump button, and slated to launch with fifty multiplayer mini-games, Banana Blitz could well be the showcase title for Nintendo's console, and was certainly the best justification for the controller that I played at E3.
What we think? Everything feels right. I was a little bothered that the game forced players to hold the controller remote style (I feel a two-fisted horizontal grasp would offer a bit more precision) but moving the encapsulated apes around the play field never felt more natural. The addition of the jump button adds a little more of a timing element to navigating the game's obstacles, and seems to fit in well. If the level design is up to snuff with the arcade originally (and unfortunately there wasn't enough time for me to make this call just yet) this could be the best single player Monkey Ball ever.
The build we played had "only" 15 mini-games playable, but we were promised that they were aiming for 50 by launch. These games seemed to play like demos for the Wii remote, with all kinds of creative uses for the thing. There was a hammer toss game that has players whirling the remote around in circles. A track race game has players pumping the remote and "nunchuk" controllers up and down, which brought back memories of cheating on the classic NES Power Pad Track and Field and playing with fists in place of feet (you know you did it, too). Darts and ring toss were similarly neat demonstrations of Wiimote finesse. We spotted a few more minigames that we didn't have time to try hands-on, but the package is sporting some impressive variety even with less than 1/3 of the games finished.
Slated for the Wii's launch this fall, Monkey Ball Banana Blitz is a showcase title for the motion sensing technology. While games like Super Mario Galaxy seemed to use it as a gimmick, and Elebits and Red Steel felt a bit like light gun games, Monkey Ball offers an experience that couldn't be had any other way. Expect good things.