Everything about Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is fun. The bright yellow menus with their bright and bouncy music? Fun. The rolling around collecting nanners? Fun. Gathering and customizing characters? Fun. Even the launch trailer Sega cooked up with Powerhouse Animation is fun.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is the ultimate collection of Sega’s spherical simian survival series. It’s all 300 stages from 2005’s Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, which includes all stages from Super Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball 2. It’s got a time attack mode, score attack mode, and challenge and practice modes for the first two games. There are 12 party games, from Monkey Race to Monkey Tennis. There are special missions to complete in every mode in order to earn coins, which can be used to unlock characters, costumes, photo mode frames and filters, and special balls. And yes, it features cameos from Sonic the Hedgehog, Persona 5 mascot Morgana, and more.
I’ve had a copy of Banana Mania for a couple of weeks now, and it’s quickly become the game I go to when I am feeling a little down. Every aspect of the compilation is just so infectiously jubilant I cannot help but smile when I play. It starts with the menus, where AiAi, MeeMee, and friends cheer and dance when their options are selected. It continues in the game proper, as physics-defying stages send our monkey friends flying to their adorable doom.
When a course in the core game gives me trouble, I take a break with some of the party games. My favorite so far is called Monkey Shot, which is an on-rails first-person shooter that arms my adorable little monkey friends with automatic weapons. It’s so charmingly absurd. Why do the monkeys need guns? Where did they get them? Was there a waiting period?
If you’ve never played a Super Monkey Ball game before, Banana Mania is a fine place to start. Not only does it have a wide variety of maze-like courses for you to roll your monkeys through, there’s also a special mode that kicks in if you fail a course more than a handful of times that gives you extra time to reach the level goal. Mind you, there are cases where extra time will not help you.
Cases like that, for example. No amount of additional time will make that better. Good luck.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is out today for Xboxes, PlayStations, Nintendo Switch, and PC. It makes me smile. It might make you smile, too.