RGB Recommends: Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz channels the arcade purity of the original

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz

Developer: AQ Interactive
Publisher: Sega
Formats: PlayStation Vita
Released in: 2012

I’ve been left impressed by how good Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz (PS Vita, 2012) is.

Put simply, developer AQ Interactive pursued a back-to-basics approach to the game’s design that echoes Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball.

I’m referring specifically to the game’s structure, where the main game is about making your way through 10, 30, and 50 stage courses on a set number of lives and continues.

This makes consistency the core challenge of the game, as you need to remain focused throughout a string of stages that get progressively more difficult.

The 50 stage course lasts around an hour in total, forcing the level designers to focus on delivering smaller, tighter challenges where the shape and width of each level’s platforms provides the main source of difficulty.

And it’s brilliant. Playing this after the fine-but-bloated Banana Rumble, whose level design ethos shares more in common with the less-focused Super Monkey Ball 2, is a breath of fresh air.

It’s not perfect - the 50 stage course doesn’t quite have the replayability of the original game simply because the designers aren’t generous with the alternate warp goals. There just aren’t enough of them, and the ones that are there only warp you forward by a couple of levels most of the time. In Super Monkey Ball, skilled players returning to the courses could eventually crack the alternate goals to warp forward to new worlds, making future playthroughs swifter.

And yet developer AQ Interactive - whose staff previously worked on games like Shadow Hearts, Lost Odyssey, Little King’s Story and Maken X - clearly understood what makes Monkey Ball sing, and largely delivered on it.

Highly recommended if you’re looking for more Monkey Ball, and especially recommended if you found 2024’s Banana Rumble didn’t come close to capturing the essence of the original, and best, game in the series.


Interesting that you rate this. Thanks for the rundown.

I’ve been eyeing it for years, but never took the plunge. I guess I’m content with the first game…

Still, it’s good to have confirmation that there is another Monkey Ball out there in the same vein as the original. A Vita exclusive, no less!