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Worthy Addition for Monkey Ball Fans
on November 20, 2013
Banana Splitz makes a great addition to the Monkey Ball series, and is a must-own for fans.
For those who are familiar with the first two games and enjoyed the challenge of trying to complete all of the courses, Banana Splitz will still challenge the heck out of you on the Advanced setting. There are 50 Advanced courses which start off at a high level of challenge, rivaling the hardest levels on the first two games right from the start. You'll struggle to make it to the end, but for a game like Monkey Ball, that's a good thing! What other replay value would there be if you didn't have to learn the stages in order to succeed?
For those who are new to the series, there is plenty of casual-friendly content, too. The Beginner and Normal modes are very accessible, and there are tons of mini games, some of which are worth spending a couple hours messing around with.
A new feature is the ability to generate random levels by having the game turn photos into courses. You take a picture of anything, and the game will attempt to make a stage that looks like the picture. The level variety in this mode is a little lacking, but if you buy a $2 optional DLC from the Playstation Store, you can add a lot more pieces which add tons of challenge to it, and I've even seen it generate a course I was unable to complete. This adds a lot of replay value for anyone, as you can just mess around with random levels if the main game is frustrating you. This is also a great mode to play to hone your skills when you don't have enough time to play through the full game in one sitting.
For new players, one thing that may confuse or irritate you is how you move the ball in the main game. You actually tilt the level itself rather than move the ball. Yes, pushing to the left does move your ball left, but it accomplishes this technically by tilting the level. The game doesn't really explain this, but it's important to know. For example, if you are going very fast and fly off the edge onto a platform below, tiling back BEFORE you land is essential to stopping your ball, as it'll actually bounce your ball backward at an angle, stopping you much more quickly than if you pull back AFTER you land.
Another thing about the level tilt is that it forces the camera to be automatic; the player can't manually adjust the camera without a keen understanding of the game. The camera attempts to stay behind the player, so turning the camera is a matter of sort of pulling back and to the side to adjust your ball's facing. Newcomers usually complain about this, but it had to be this way because the tilt of the level is based on the player's perspective. If the camera could just be moved all around at will, it would allow you to do some crazy stuff with the tilt mechanics. If you play the game you'll see what I mean, but as a Monkey Ball expert I can tell you that it's something you can learn to account for, and it doesn't detract from the experience once you get accustomed to it.
One more thing I was happy with was the ability to share content with your friends through the game itself. Any time you complete a stage, you can save a replay, and replays can be uploaded for sharing purposes. Simply giving people your PSN username will allow them to look up your files and download anything you uploaded. Randomly generated stages can also be saved and uploaded.
There is some content in this game that is terrible: some of the mini-games are bad, and the gyroscope controls are not recommended, but I won't take off stars for modes that weren't important to me anyway. There is enough here to be worth the asking price. If there is any downside to Banana Splitz, it's that the Vita has tiny analog sticks.