What’s more, the game even throws in boss battles. These generally hold true to the tried and trusted dodge-the-attacks, whack-the-weak spot formula we’ve seen since the days when Sonic and Mario were young, and while they’re not particularly exciting or inventive, they do give the game a sense of structure. Let’s not get carried away: even by the appalling standards of previous SMB games the storyline is ridiculous, and there’s little sense of any progression from world to world bar one of difficulty. However, it does help make this feel like the most coherent single-player Monkey Ball yet.
It’s also the most compelling. SMB has always walked a tight line between difficulty and frustration, but with its longer levels and appalling tendency to put a tough bit right at the end Banana Blitz is possibly the most swearword-inducing effort yet – particularly beyond the first three worlds. Yep, the game I like to call Super Stomach Ulcer can still be a tough task-master. Yet, as always, you never feel that the game is at fault; merely that your skills aren’t quite up to the task. There are horrible levels that you think you’ll never complete, but then something clicks, the stars align or maybe you just catch a lucky break and – suddenly – you’ve cracked it. I guess the feeling of triumph is commensurate to the trials and tribulations that came before, but it’s one of the finest gaming offers.
However, the million dollar question is whether Banana Blitz is new or different enough to grab the attention of those who have just invested £179 in Nintendo’s new console, and the answer is probably not. This makes the multiplayer mini-games a more crucial aspect of the game than ever before.
Well, you can’t fault Sega for effort. There are over 50 mini-games on offer here, all of them using the Wii remote and plug-in nunchucks in a variety of interesting and innovative ways. While that sounds like great value, it should also sound a note of caution for the long-time SMB fan. As the series has progressed and new mini-games have been added to the classic Race, Fight, Billiards, Target, Golf, Bowling line-up, so the quality of the additions has seemed to decrease. With so many to choose from, Banana Blitz has you simultaneously hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
In actual fact, neither is true. Inevitably the mini-games are a very mixed bag indeed. When news of the Wii first emerged, there was a weird, utopian belief that it would be the console anyone could play. Banana Blitz proves that it ain’t necessarily so. With the wrong implementation and poor instructions, even the simplest game can be ruined, and while Banana Blitz tries hard to make your task clear with illustrated (and animated) instructions before each game commences, some are a lot easier to grasp than others.