Please support Game Informer. Print magazine subscriptions are less than $2 per issue

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

Getting Things Rolling Again
by Brian Shea on Apr 24, 2024 at 09:00 AM
Platform Switch
Publisher Sega
Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios
Rating Everyone

After a long absence, the Super Monkey Ball series returned in 2019 and 2021 with remasters and remakes of previous games, but it's been over a decade since fans received an all-new Super Monkey Ball title. That changes in June, as Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble is poised to deliver the continuation longtime players pine for. But with some recent mixed results, massive changes in game design best practices in the time since the series' heyday, and likely a whole lot of cobwebs to shake off for developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, I was skeptical about the viability of a new Super Monkey Ball in 2024. Thankfully, after spending an hour playing Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble, those fears have subsided almost entirely.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble brings a ton of content and changes to the series while still remaining definitively Monkey Ball. Banana Rumble apes its freshest new move from Sega's flagship franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. In previous Super Monkey Ball games, you could jump, but that ability is replaced by a Spin Dash, a technique in Sonic's moveset since Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in 1992. At first, I was unsure of this change, but as soon as I got my hands on it through the tutorial, all my concerns were dashed away.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

The Spin Dash fits incredibly well into the Super Monkey Ball formula, giving you a better flow through the levels but also letting you peel out and blast off ramps and lips to find shortcuts. During my hands-on session, my most thrilling moments came when I lined up and blasted through a level using the Spin Dash. It's useful for cutting corners in the stages, but it's essential for hitting the missions each level gives you, particularly when combined with the refreshed physics that make the series feel better than ever.

As you play through the 200 all-new levels in Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble's Adventure mode, you can simply make it your goal to reach the end of the stage. However, if you want to be a completionist, each level has three side missions: One for collecting a set number of bananas, one for grabbing the Golden Banana, and one for completing the stage in a set amount of time. You don't have to get all of them in one go, but I still strived to do so during my demo. It quickly became apparent that I could complete the banana-centric missions during a normal playthrough of the level, I'd have to get crafty to finish some of the levels under the time target. That's where the Spin Dash and creative thinking come into play.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

On one level, I waited for a moving platform to lift up, giving me enough airtime if I Spin Dashed into it at the right time to send me flying over the other platforms and into the goal. On another, I had to drop down at just the right point in the stage to skip huge swaths of the level and reach the goal faster, harkening back to games like Super Mario 64 in the best possible way. I loved tackling these head-scratching stages, and having only played through the first two worlds, I can't wait to see how the challenges escalate in the levels still to come. If you end up stuck on any level, you can turn on various assist options, including ghosts that show you optimal routes and checkpoints that let you continue the level if you fall off the platforms. As you complete these worlds, you earn trophies to display on your island, as well as in-game currency to purchase cosmetics in the shop.

Outside of Adventure mode, I had a chance to participate in the Battle modes, which allow for up to 16 players online or 2 players locally. Since the game isn't out yet, I play against 15 bots, which will be an option in the final game if you want to fill out with up to 16 total competitors mixed in with your actual players.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

The Battle modes give me a lot of hope for the multiplayer aspect of Banana Rumble. Whether it's the Mario Kart-style Race game, the collectathon Banana Hunt, or the fun risk/reward game of Goal Rush, where you players roll down a hill at high speeds to try and go through the highest scoring goals to contribute to your team's total, Banana Rumble delivers a diverse array of experiences within this suite. However, my two favorites are Ba-Boom, which is basically a game of tag where you need to pass off a bomb before the timer reaches zero and eliminates those with bombs, and Robot Smash, where you use momentum and the Spin Dash to blast into robots in the arena and rack up points for your team. I can't wait to actually get into these modes with real-world players, as they feel like they hold a surprising amount of depth for side modes.

And that was my main takeaway from my time with Banana Rumble in general: I came away impressed by how the game feels like far more than surface delights and lighthearted fun. The puzzle-solving fan inside of me can't wait to figure out the best paths through the various Adventure mode levels, while the party-game lover is itching to play more rounds of the Battle mode titles. 

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

I had an absolute blast during my time with Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble, and what I played was just a sampling of the content that awaits players. Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble arrives exclusively on Switch on June 25.

Products In This Article

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumblecover

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

Release Date: