Action Platformer Review

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania – Preview | A Sneak Peek

Few things in life have brought me such a perfect blend of hair-pulling rage, triumphant victory, and pure fun essence as a small monkey in a ‘Gacha’ ball. Super Monkey Ball is one of those franchises that came in like a hurricane around the 6th generation of game boxes, got its wings then rapidly plummeted into obscurity around generation 8. It’s the 20th anniversary of the whimsically maddening series, and I managed to get my hands on the latest entry – Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania.

Monkey Ball Is Back!

Right off the bat Banana Mania opens up with one of the catchiest intro songs to ever exist – Hello, Hello, Banana. It follows my every waking step, it haunts my dreams and I kid you not, I anticipate singing along every time I turn on my PS5. Thankfully the game itself is more than just a soundtrack, although it does have a fully featured and comprehensive mode that lets you jam to a bunch of Monkey Ball goodness at the drop of a hat. 

Super Monkey Ball has always been rich with content, and Banana Mania is no different. This might be the largest compilation of Monkey Ball content to ever stumble into existence. The game boasts around 300 levels across roughly a gazillion modes. Old, new remixed, and jazzed-up stages from across the series make their way into Banana Mania, so newbies have the best Monkey Ball experience possible, and veterans get that PLUS the added benefit of nostalgia spooning. There is more physics-based tomfoolery to last you a lifetime and a half, and golly gosh, I haven’t even started to talk about the game yet.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Green

Easy To Learn, Hard To Master

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is incredibly simple to pick up and play, but devilishly difficult to play for a long time – let alone master. You control one of a handful or so of monkeys, in a ball, and you have to direct them to the goal. Simple as that. Now I say control very loosely as Monkey Ball has you tilting, shuffling, and adjusting the very fabric of reality – the stage – as opposed to directly controlling your imprisoned banana-lover. It might seem like a complicated affair, but it’s a dream to control and the amount of nonsense – in a good way – Sega has injected into the game is commendable. 

One stage could have you traveling through portals to traverse a tilting tower, the next could have you launching yourself off a ramp and into a devious mechanical contraption. Variety is the spice of life, and, despite its staggering amount of content, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania rarely feels like it’s retreading old ground. Even within the same “world”, Banana Mania is more than willing to introduce new concepts and ideas for you to mess around with.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Water

Oodles of Rewards

Progress is tracked, and rewards are handed out at every interval imaginable. These come in the form of points that can be exchanged for all manner of goodies in the in-game shop (not a microtransaction in sight either). Fancy playing as Sonic? Beat from Jet Set Radio, or Kiryu from Yakuza? Well, the game has you covered. Heck, you can even play as a floating Dreamcast. Many of these characters even replace sound effects and collectibles – for example, Beat picks up spray paint, and Sonic nabs those classic golden rings.

You can even pick up various outfits and whats-its to dress up your monkeys! It’s a shame that this is monkey only, as it would have been cool to pop a top hat onto a semi-sentient Game Gear. Modes can be found here, although these special modes are not for the faint of heart. The hardest levels with some killer changes to the victory – and defeat – conditions pop up in Golden and Dark banana mode.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Into the drink

Challenging Is An Understatement

I mentioned Banana Mania is difficult – and it bloody well is. This requires an interesting mix of patience, control, and reflexes to overcome. That being said, it also rewards speedrunning and many stages can be beaten with a strong enough grasp of how to manipulate the game physics. As a master Monkey Ball player, I had a blast pulling off some pretty sweet tricks and flares, but even playing a bit more reserved was entertaining and challenging. It helps that the controls are incredibly precise with 0 dead zoning on the DualSense controller. 

If the challenge gets a bit too rough, Banana Mania allows you to turn on an easy mode which increases your time limit and whatnot, which is a nice inclusion. What’s more, in Story Mode, you can even skip entire stages and just move on. You can always go back to skipped stages and nab those gold medals, but it’s nice that Banana Mania has so much content and is so willing to allow players to experience all of it – even if they can’t get through it on their first pass.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is chock-full of party games that do a nice job of rounding out the package. These range from pretty naff to surprisingly good, with a bunch of classic Monkey Modes making a return. The game has everything from an on-rails shooter, to baseball, to dogfighting, to bowling. They can all be played solo too, although the real enjoyment comes from multiplayer monkey madness.


Overall, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is shaping up to be an excellent anniversary present for grumpy silverbacks and a fantastic starting point for cheeky newcomers. There is content coming out of the wazoo, it has controls to die for, and I still can’t get that damn song out of my noggin. This is a game worth keeping an eye on.

Please Click Here For Our Full Review of this title.

Platforms: PlayStation 4/5, XBox, Nintendo Switch, Steam (PC)
Purchase: Humble (PC/Steam)

If you would like to see more platformers, you may be interested in our review of Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.

Many thanks go to SEGA for a PlayStation 5 review code for this title.

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