Summer Game Fest Hands-On Preview: Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

AiAi and friends are back, with a new adventure and revamped ball physics!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/17/2024 23:53 Comment on this     ShareThis

Super Monkey Ball has been under fire a bit by fans for the past couple of releases. Although this is the first all-new installment in 12 years, fans got Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD in 2019 and Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania in 2021. Those two titles are both remakes of older games and have been derided by many for not replicating the physics that made the originals so believed, particularly in Banana Mania. Going hands-on with the upcoming Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble at Summer Game Fest has revealed what seems to be a course correction for the series, replete with new modes and abilities that have a good chance of pleasing new and old fans alike.

Banana Rumble steps things up with an improved sense of presentation. Beyond being very pretty on Nintendo Switch, the game is also incorporating animated cut scenes. They look lovely, and while unecesary, add some punch to the proceedings by imbuing the cast with more personality than ever. That said, the cinematics never felt too intrusive. Monkey Ball is all about its snappy gameplay and jumping from one course to the next without needless interruption, and thankfully that is preserved here. Cutscenes are inserted between section breaks, preserving the momentum during gameplay.

Perhaps the biggest question that will be on the minds of longtime Monkey Ball fans is whether or not Banana Rumble addresses the previous two entries’ questionable ball physics. Many fans have maligned both Banana Blitz HD and Banana Mania, but the latter especially sparked their ire because it was a remake of the first two games but had made significant changes to those games’ ball physics. For Banana Rumble, everything has been overhauled, to the point that even the dead zone of the ball can be manually adjusted by players. While I can’t speak for diehards, I can say that rolling around stages felt very fluid and satisfying. Will it be up to the standards of old school fans? We’ll have to wait and see.

Besides the freshened up physics, AiAi now has a charge move to utilize. As the charge builds, the player aims a directional arrow to where they want to launch the ball. It’s A small change, but one that I would imagine is rife with possibilities. Especially among players who are already adept at maneuvering AiAi; I anticipate this charge ability might open up all sorts of new tactics for players to take advantage of. I do wish it were possible to engage the charge as soon players begin to press the button. As it is currently implemented, there’s a small delay before the charge starts to accumulate. I would have preferred it to begin immediately, but I suspect it might be to ensure players don’t spam the ability. Regardless, I think it’s a missed opportunity.

Along with the single-player campaing, Banana Rumble will also bring with it a number of multiplayer modes. There are five game modes to partake in:

  • Race – Standard race to the finish with power-ups mixed in to keep things spicy.
  • Goal Rush – Roll through as many goals as you can to gain points and outscore your opponents. This is a team-based mode.
  • Ba-Boom! – Hot potato with a bomb, essentially, where you pass it off to an opponent and run far away!
  • Banana Hunt – Collect as many bananas as you can before time runs out.
  • Robot Smash – Two teams compete to eliminate as many robots and score the most points before time runs out.

All of the modes can be played with real people or with bots, so whether alone or with company, you’ll be able to enjoy this part of the game. I felt like all of the modes were nicely implemented, but whether or not this will be a draw is going to depend on the player and their dynamics with friends and family. I cane easily see modes like Robot Smash and Ba-Boom! being very popular with people during parties and gatherings.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble will be launching with a few different versions to choose from. Here are your options on Switch:

  • Digital Standard Edition Includes:
    • Base Game
    • Exclusive Banana Suit (Pre-Order Only)
  • Digital Deluxe Edition Includes:
    • Base GameExclusive Banana Suit (Pre-Order Only)
    • SEGA PASS – Includes 6 SEGA all-stars each with their own unique stats. This pack also includes 15 customization items to deck your monkey out in.
  • Legendary Banana Edition Includes:
    • Base Game
    • Slipcase
    • Reversible Cover
    • Exclusive Banana Suit
    • Adventure Book: Take AiAi’s personal adventure book with you wherever you go! This 40-page physical art book is filled with details about all the characters and worlds you will encounter on your journey and is packed to the brim with sketches and other behind-the-scenes artwork. Who knew AiAi was so artistically gifted?

Banana Rumble will launch on June 25, 2024. With 200 new stages to explore, four-player local and online co-op, and a bunch of multiplayer modes to fool around with, there’s a lot to look forward to here. If this preview has you interested, be sure to keep an eye on Nintendojo as we will give you our full thoughts on the final build of Banana Rumble closer to launch. In the interim, let us know what you think of the game so far down below!

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