The original Super Monkey Ball that first adorned Nintendo’s last console, the ill fated Gamecube, remains right up there with the very best games released in recent times.
Its analogue stick driven control method couldn’t help but enthral, encouraging millions of us to start directing some ball encased simians along tricky courses.
So it’s little surprise that half a decade later the same series has popped up as a Wii launch day title. But can the old nuances of control be transferred to the Wii Remote fully intact? Or does this smack of cheap cash in?
The quick answer to the questions posed just a few inches up the page would be a resounding “no”. Banana Blitz is not only much more than a typical cheap money spinner of a launch day title. Having said that, the control method hasn’t made the jump from Gamecube pad to Wii Remote with all its faculties fully intact.
The original game was quite simple. You merely twisted the landscape utilising the Gamecube’s still seriously high quality analogue stick in order to guide your encased Simian chum to the "goal" at the end of each level, preferably picking up as many loose bananas scattered in some tricky to reach spots along the way.
Unsurprisingly this main single player mode returns and, to a large extent, works exactly as planned. The same goals, the same trickily placed bananas and a similarly intuitive control method are all here. Simply move the Remote to twist the landscape and your cheeky little monkey will stay on the path.
But this new control method is pretty much free of any kind of constraints so you’ll need a steady hand, particularly when you start hitting the later more tricky levels. That old shoulder twinge has never been so infuriating.
There’s a couple of extras too. The monkey of old stayed glued to the floor, but this one can jump around. It’s only a small change, but the improved level design makes it work.
The second major upgrade – boss battles – isn’t quite as welcome. This being Super Monkey Ball, there’s no guns to speak of. Instead you have to roll your ball into a character’s nads or other sweet spot.
Repeatedly mashing someone’s chuds we can handle. The problem comes with the camera system that remains stuck on the boss rather than you. We lost count of the number of times we went hurtling to oblivion simply because it wasn’t clear where a platform ended. That’s about as much fun as a day out with the inlaws.
If you want multiplayer Wii action, this is the title for you. There’s 45 separate mini games to get to grips with so you’d be hard pressed to get bored before your wrists finally succumb to RSI.
Many of the games are an absolute riot, particularly when you’ve got four of you crowded round the TV. The problem lies with the rest. At least half won’t last more than five minutes thanks to unresponsive controls and poorly thought out game design. A shame.
So not quite the monkey’s nuts then, but worth a roll of notes.