A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The multiplayer mini-games promote friendly competition and social gaming. Trying for perfect runs encourages patience and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
The main characters are monkeys depicted with little in the way of relatable motives or personalities, and don't really serve as role models.
The main playable characters (monkeys) include both males and females, young and old.
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Ease of Play
The ball rolling physics are intuitive, and the controls are simple and responsive. Levels quickly grow in difficulty as players progress, but assists in the form of a slow-motion mode and the ability to mark harder levels as "cleared" in order to keep moving forward in the story help alleviate frustration.
Violence & Scariness
A couple of cartoonish mini-games involve shooting whimsical ammunition (like pineapples and slow moving bullets) at other characters. Small explosions and a bit of flailing follow.
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Products & Purchases
This game's part of the long running (and once very popular) Super Monkey Ball franchise.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania is an action filled racing/puzzle game for Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. This is the latest chapter in the long-running Super Monkey Ball franchise. Players take control of a monkey -- male or female -- running in a hamster ball that careens down checkered race courses. The balls can bump into obstacles and fall off ledges, but there's no suggestion that their occupants are injured or killed. They simply respawn at the top of the course. Some of the mini-games outside of the story mode involve a bit of simple shooting, with players firing cartoonish ammunition -- like pineapple missiles -- at other characters, who yelp in pain. These mini-games can be played with friends and family in the same room, promoting a social atmosphere and friendly competition. While some levels within the story mode can be frustratingly challenging, players have the option to activate assists or simply skip levels altogether in order to keep progressing.
Is It Any Good?
It doesn't quite manage to recapture the magic of the original games, but this remaster is a good way to introduce a classic franchise to a new generation of gamers. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania isn't a graphical masterpiece. The cartoonish monkeys and balls -- decorated with various outfits and skins once you've collected enough bananas to buy them -- are fine, but the Spartan-looking tracks are pretty dated, even when earned filters are applied. While there's some semblance of a story about a villain potentially wreaking havoc on Monkey Island, making heads or tails of the brief, highly stylized narrative clips that play between sets of levels is difficult. Understanding them is completely unnecessary in order to progress, but it would be nice if they were coherent and entertaining enough to make players want to watch them.
The good news, though, is that all of this falls by the wayside once you begin playing. The intuitive physics and simple controls make it easy for beginners to jump right in, and the wonderful imagination that went into the level design -- waterslide-like spirals, see-saw bars, labyrinthine mazes -- still impresses. It's easy to get sucked in and want to keep playing just one more level. The mini-games are a blast, too, especially if friends join in. The merger of concepts from sports-like golf and soccer with Monkey Ball's familiar visuals and whimsy is a natural fit, and the mini-games are simple enough that players needn't be a master of either the sport or Monkey Ball to have fun and experience some success. It's not a replacement for a brand new game designed to exploit all of the technical marvels and graphical bells and whistles of modern consoles, but Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania is surprisingly fun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.