Sega’s band of banana hunters return, bringing their unique mix of puzzle gaming and party tricks to the PlayStation Vita. Given the hardware’s multitude of abilities, it should be the perfect venue for the game but a few slip-ups prevent Banana Splitz from reaching its full potential.
Single player mode follows the familiar routine of guiding one of four main monkeys – all-rounders AiAi and MeeMee, super-light Baby or powerful GonGon – around abstract levels, collecting the titular yellow fruit and reaching the goal in as short time as possible. Either the Vita’s motion sensor or the left thumbstick can be used to tilt the levels around, both offering a responsive way to navigate. Tilt proves marginally preferable, though the default ‘flat’ state is actually achieved by holding the Vita towards you – a slightly counter-intuitive decision but one that works in players’ favour once understood.
While working your way through the solo maps proves a suitable challenge, you’re unlikely to return to them once you’ve bested the lot. The real appeal of Super Monkey Ball lies, as always, in its assortment of multiplayer mini-games. Here, you can play across two units or take turns on one, and each of the eight games on offer has multiple modes for extended variety. However, somewhat problematically, the game doesn’t always take advantage of the Vita’s controls as you might expect across the mini-games. The returning Monkey Target screams out for (curiously absent) motion controls to glide your airborne simian around, while new addition Monkey Rodeo – where you poke inflatable horse-riding monkeys around using the rear touch pad – barely works at all. Monkey Bowling remains superb, while Monkey Bingo wins out as the top party game, with up to four players rolling their monkeys to dominate a 5x5 grid.
With a comprehensive level editor allowing you to create and share your own primate playgrounds, there’s longevity to be found but control issues are likely to frustrate.
Reviewed by Matt Kamen