4.0 out of 5


  • Tons of content
  • Guest characters
  • Online leaderboard


  • Some courses can be difficult for casuals
  • Can’t play as guest characters in party modes
  • Lack of online multiplayer mode

Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC
Super Monkey Ball
Arcade, Multiplayer, Party, Platform
File Size (Minimum)
3.1 GB
Release Date (NA)
Oct 5, 2021

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania has courses from previous titles in the franchise (Super Monkey Ball, Super Monkey Ball 2 and Super Monkey Ball Deluxe), party games for up to four players, character customization, and online leaderboards, making it a fun purchase to celebrate 20 years of Super Monkey Ball. That said, while it looks great on paper, it holds itself back from being perfect.

Glutton for Punishment

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Screenshot

The goal in the majority of the modes for Banana Mania is get your little guy across the finish line. On the way to your goal, you can pick up bananas for extra points to earn that perfect stamp. However, it’s not that easy. Those who haven’t played the Super Monkey Ball series before will find it quite challenging controlling your character in a plastic ball. Think Marble Madness, the classic game where you navigate the marble to avoid obstacles, but in full 3D.

Using a console controller, you’ll move the board with the left thumbstick while adjusting the camera with the right stick. It’ll take time to get used to it since you’re not controlling the character like in most video games, but the experience turns out to be enjoyable. Earning 100% of the bananas is tougher than it looks, even for the simplest boards. As you play, you can’t roam freely forever. Players need to cross the finish line before the time runs out, making banana collecting even tougher.

Still, each board changes up its features, and its difficulty will shift drastically. Even with starting the courses in casual mode, casual and new gamers will be challenged to complete them. One course will be a walk in the park, while the next one will have you throwing the controller out the window. If that wasn’t enough, there are harder difficulty modes to make it more difficult. If you’re looking to livestream or watch player’s reactions, Banana Mania is a solid title to see many emotional states in a short time.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Screenshot

If it becomes too much to handle a course, the game will ask if you need help. Accepting it means you can perform a slow mode to help navigate tough situations, additional time is added, and arrows are placed on the board to help you get to the goal. After completing the level, you won’t be able to play the stage in challenge mode as a consequence, but at least you got through it.

Another option for players to bypass a difficult level is by marking the stage as clear, which is found in the pause menu while playing. Doing this will let you skip to the next course, but at the same time, you will not obtain any points to use for shopping and a clear time will not be saved. Still, you can always come back and try again.

Many Ways to Play

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Screenshot

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania’s main game is the Story Mode, which consists of 10 levels with 10 stages each. Additionally, you can play these courses in Challenge Mode, Practice Mode, and Special Mode. Challenge Mode offers a different set of courses to complete in a timeframe. With Practice Mode, players can train on the Challenge Mode courses, but no coins are earned. The Special Mode has courses earned in the point shop such as the Dark Banana mode. If that wasn’t enough, the game provides additional modes for party and individuals.  

In the Ranking Challenge, you can play the Main Game Time Attack and Party Games Score Attack. With Main Game Time Attack, you can play your best timed score either solo or against others online in competitive time attack. The online competitive time attack only lets you compete against recordings of players. There is no live competition. Whether you play solo or competitive, the goal is to beat the stage as fast as possible without falling out of the course.

There are other courses to play that don’t involve a labyrinth-like board. In Party Games Score Attack, you can race across a track like Mario Kart or on the river with a canoe. You can also fly into the air and try to land on specific targets just like navigating a hang glider in Nintendo’s Pilotwings. Finally, you can shoot enemies down in an arcade-style shooter game, similar to Sega’s House of the Dead series.

These games are available to play locally in multiplayer, and the play options available here are for posting the best track times on the online leaderboards. Unsurprisingly, they’re not as fun playing alone and are really best suited for multiplayer.

Party Like It’s 2000

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Screenshot

The party games in this latest Super Monkey Ball game let up to 4 players play against each other in 12 minigames. Compared to the Party Games Score Attack, there are more play options. Players can compete not only on tracks but also in sports games such as baseball, billiards, bowling, golf, soccer, and tennis. While they’re fun, it’s important to nail down the physics in the games, such as the amount of pressure hitting the cue ball and against the wall in billiards. 

Unfortunately, the game does not have an online option. When games like Nintendo’s latest Mario Party offer online competitive play, you’ll wonder why Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania doesn’t. Hopefully, this will come in the near future, but crossplay could be a hindrance.

Shop Til You Drop

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Screenshot

When finishing a level, the game hands out coins to spend in the game’s store. At the store, you can purchase new characters from the Super Monkey Ball series, as well as guest characters like Sonic the Hedgehog and Beat from Jet Set Radio. Additionally, players can purchase different colored balls, outfits, stage designs, and more. It’s a great feature and makes earning coins a delight.

The game has quite a list of downloadable content (DLC) that is available now and for weeks after its launch. Many are great additions such as the guest appearance of Hello Kitty, Morgana from Persona 5, and the retro Sega consoles such as the Dreamcast. However, they all come with their own price tag, making it an expensive game to have it all.

Using the guest characters changes up the course theme. For example, using Sonic or Tails changes the bananas to rings. Playing as Beat changes them to spray cans. It’s a neat modification that helps keep the design from being a simple copy/paste.

Having guest characters join the fun is great, but for some reason, they cannot be used in the multiplayer Party Games and Ranking Challenge’s Party Game Score Attack. It’s very odd why Sega doesn’t allow fans to show them off and enjoy them fully. If it’s due to the aforementioned theme changes, just have Sonic and Beat collect bananas. It’s just strange.

Feel the Movement, Hear the Beat, Capture Your Excitement

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania - Screenshot

Banana Mania gives players the option to choose either motion control or regular analog controls. By default, the game is set for the controller’s thumbstick for movement. Changing this option is located in the options menu.

Using the motion controls feels more sensitive compared to the default controls. Tilting the controller forward speeds up the ball movement, while tilting back lowers the speed. You’ll be able to maneuver your monkey ball tilting left and right, too. Just be warned that you’re in for a challenge.

In regards to the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller, Banana Mania does not offer anything beyond basic rumbling features. There are no haptic feedback and adaptive triggers found in the game. At the very least, you have motion controls.

An added feature Banana Mania adds is the photo mode. Players can capture scenes mid-action and alter them with special effects, add photo frames, and change the character’s expression. That said, many of these options have to be purchased in the game’s store. There are only about a handful of each to purchase, so there are not many options to pick from and use. Hopefully, more options become available down the road.

The Final Roll

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania is an entertaining game for both newcomers and veterans. It is loaded with content, fun courses and enjoyable party games but lacks online multiplayer. If you’re new to the series, this is the perfect place to start. So jump into your plastic ball and start rolling.

A PlayStation 5 review code was provided for this review and gameplay footage.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania - Gameplay Footage (PS5)

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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