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Title

The title screen of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz is the tenth retail installment (and fourth handheld installment) in the Super Monkey Ball series, released for the PlayStation Vita, both as a physical copy and digital download on the 26th of October in 2012 (in Australia).

PlotEdit

Taking a minimalist approach to its story, the plot of the main game is mentioned solely in the included manual.

"Doctor has been putting his engineering skills to the test in creating a working time machine. Eager to try out his new invention, his friends joined him as he set out on its maiden voyage all the way back to the age of dinosaurs.
Something wasn't right however. Trees and rocks were papeir-mâché, and dinosaurs moved by clockwork. They seemed to be inside some sort of tin toy.
Doctor realised that as it was a toy time machine he'd built, it was a toy world that it had sent them to.
Join Doctor and friends in their exciting "once in an eternity" adventure through space and time!"

The toy theme of the game is apparent with its unlockable characters, and several of the world themes.

GameplayEdit

Banana Splitz features two game modes: Monkey Ball and Party Mode. The game also features High Score leaderboards.

Monkey BallEdit

The central mode of Banana Splitz -- Monkey Ball -- has the player navigate their monkey through 100 precarious levels using either the Vita's analog stick or motion sensor to control the tilt of the stage. There are four initial player characters to choose from, with four additional 'toy' versions of the characters being unlocked after playing for long enough. This mode is exclusive to solo play. Unusual for a Monkey Ball game, the player can control the camera with the Vita's right analog stick (but only when the ball is stationary or moving very slowly).

Players can also practice individual levels upon reaching them in Challenge Mode, watch up to 16 saved replays of levels, or use the Playstation Vita camera to automatically generate and save playable custom stages in Edit Mode.

'Banana Splitz does not possess a story mode. Instead, its core game mirrors Super Monkey Ball 2s Challenge Mode, with three central difficulty settings, and a fourth unlockable one. The original difficulties 'Advanced' and 'Expert' have been renamed 'Normal' and 'Advanced', but the intended challenge remains the same. There are no extra stages for completing each difficulty without continues however, and Master is unlocked by merely completing Advanced. However, unlike the first 2 Super Monkey Ball games (Super Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball 2), there are no Extra stages in the game.

There are 3 continues of 3 lives, totaling 9 lives altogether. By completing the individual difficulties, the number of continues can be raised to 6, 9, and finally an unlimited amount, reminiscent to the original Super Monkey Ball. For every 30 bananas collected, the player earns an extra life, a limit which was introduced in the previous installment, Super Monkey Ball 3D.

All levels have a 60 second time-limit, unlike most games in the series where the timer varies between stages, and the player's momentum is preserved if time runs out, allowing players to finish a level after the timer reaches zero, reminiscent to Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz and Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll). At least one level in every world (except World 6 - Master) has a warp goal, allowing the player to skip the following level if it's taken.

Every world has a bonus stage on the 5th level (including World 6 - Master). The scoring system has also changed to adopt a 'chain' system - an ever-increasing bonus is applied for beating levels in a row without dying. Many levels also make extensive use of sliding barriers, first seen in Advanced Floor 14 (Stoppers) of Super Monkey Ball.

BeginnerEdit

This setting consists of ten basic stages, all of which have appeared in previous games.

World 1: Monkey Island
1-1:  Plain ((Super Monkey Ball))
1-2:  WIN002 (titled 'Sine Wave' in Super Monkey Ball: Touch and Roll))
1-3:  Hairpin (Super Monkey Ball))
1-4:  CHUTO (titled 'Chute' in Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll))
1-5:  Basic Bonus (Super Monkey Ball))
1-6:  Diamond Zone (Super Monkey Ball))
1-7:  Monkey Island 5 (Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz)) 
1-8:  Sliders (Super Monkey Ball 2))
1-9:  Wide Bridge (Super Monkey Ball))
1-10: Steps (Super Monkey Ball)

NormalEdit

This setting consists of thirty more challenging original stages.

World 1: Night Island
1-1:  ΔOΧ☐
1-2:  Group Notebook
1-3:  Slide Village
1-4:  Picnic Hill
1-5:  Basic Bonus 2
1-6:  Simple Half-Pipe
1-7:  Pendulum
1-8:  Jungle Dive
1-9:  Light Blocks
1-10: Dino Disturbance

World 2: Clay Temple
2-1:  Curving Road
2-2:  Quick Path
2-3:  Disc Piece
2-4:  Whip
2-5:  Stumble Stone
2-6:  Hourglass
2-7:  Invalid Bowl
2-8:  Clover Clip
2-9:  So Cute!
2-10: Colossus

World 3: Block Town
3-1:  Bumper Circle
3-2:  Triangle
3-3:  Castle Walk
3-4:  Hopping Plate
3-5:  Waterwheel
3-6:  Ripple Town
3-7:  Marching Lane
3-8:  Safety Slider
3-9:  Bubble Ball
3-10: Windmill

AdvancedEdit

This setting consists of fifty difficult original stages.

World 1: Lava Island
1-1: ΔOΧ☐ Advanced!
1-2: Crocodile Hunter
1-3: Training Seesaw
1-4: Arched Bridge
1-5: Basic Bonus 3
1-6: Wide Wiper
1-7: Sheer Cliff
1-8: Trick Half-Pipe
1-9: Malicious Pyramid
1-10: Dinosaur Paradise

World 2: Foggy Temple
2-1: Conveyor Array
2-2: Seesaw Park
2-3: Risky Coaster
2-4: Longest Fall
2-5: Stress Tone
2-6: Anaconda
2-7: Panel Balancer
2-8: Bumper Vortex
2-9: Block Grid
2-10: Gandhara

World 3: Snow Town
3-1: Hop Step
3-2: Melody Line
3-3: Building Blocks
3-4: Labyrinth Bar
3-5: Wonder Wheel
3-6: High-Stress Speed
3-7: Quick River
3-8: Bubble Ball Float
3-9: Bumper Street
3-10: Window Mill Climb

World 4: Cardboard West
4-1: Western Road
4-2: Honeycomb
4-3: One-Ace Swing
4-4: Tornado
4-5: Big Cactus
4-6: Chicken Helicopter
4-7: Bumper Base
4-8: Sand Pile
4-9: Loop-de-Loop
4-10: Frontier Spirit

World 5: Space Wars
5-1: UFO
5-2: Colony Quarter
5-3: Factory
5-4: Danger Board
5-5: Monkey Cube
5-6: Heavy Blocks
5-7: Satellite Burst
5-8: Dot Bit
5-9: Asteroid Born
5-10: Mothership

MasterEdit

This setting consists of ten highly-challenging stages.

World 6: Time Paradox
6-1:  Shanti Chakram
6-2:  Shockwave
6-3:  Heaven and Hell
6-4:  Master Slider
6-5:  Banana Split
6-6:  Mega-Float
6-7:  Emperor's Pyramid
6-8:  Bumper Core
6-9:  Chaos Metronome
6-10: Clock Gear


Party ModeEdit

This mode, playable with up to four players, features eight mini-games. Players can choose from eight playable characters - comprised of the four original Monkey Ball characters, and the four new characters introduced in Banana Blitz - and play either using an ad-hoc or online connection, or by sharing an individual Vita system.

Monkey TargetEdit

A recurring mini-game in the series, Monkey Target has the player roll their monkey down a slope, navigate their flight in mid-air, and attempt to land on a distant target aiming for the highest possible score-zone. The game lasts three rounds, and bonuses are awarded for flying through rings in mid-air and collecting bananas.

There are three modes to choose from: Basic, Smart Ball, and Giant Punch. Basic features a standard concentric target with zones spaced out from the center. Smart Ball features a pinball-esque target with score zones distributed at the base, along with numerous banana bunches. Giant Punch features a horizontal rectangular target with circular zones on either end, higher-value zones at the center of the rectangular section, and a dangerous punching monkey statue in the middle.

Monkey BingoEdit

In this game, the player uses the analog stick to move their monkey around a 5x5 bingo board. By falling into the board's holes, the player 'earns' the hole and points; falling into adjacent holes scores higher amounts of points.

The game has three difficulty settings: Beginner, Normal, and Advanced. The setting influences the nature of the board; Beginner is a plain board, Normal bevels the four corner squares, and Advanced adds four bumpers into the corners.

Monkey BowlingEdit

Another series mainstay game, Monkey Bowling is a bowling mini-game implementing the characters from Monkey Ball. There are four modes for the game: Regular Lane, Irregular Lane, Pin-Strewn Lane, and Mega-Pin Challenge. The game is played by holding the Vita vertically, and it utilizes the Vita's motion sensor and touch screen.

Regular Lane is a standard bowling mode with straight lanes. Irregular Lane features ten unique lanes each with their own gimmicks. Pin-Strewn Lane features straight lanes with unorthodox arrangements of pins. The Mega-Pin Challenge features a single giant pin that the player tries to knock over with as few throws as possible.

Monkey RodeoEdit

In this game, the player taps the rear touch pad to push the floor up from underneath and move their monkey around. The game is a competition to collect as many bananas as possible within the time limit.

Like Monkey Bingo, the game has three difficulty settings that alter the board. Beginner is, again, a plain board. Normal introduces cacti that when hit will knock bananas off the player. Advanced features a single central cactus instead, but the stage's walls can be destroyed, allowing the player to fall off.

Number BallEdit

In this game, the player must sequentially tap numbered balls as they roll around the screen. The aim is to tap as many as possible within the time-limit. Incorrect taps will temporarily bar the player from selecting any balls.

The game features two modes: Normal and Random. In Normal mode, the sequence of the balls ascends by counting (e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc.). In Random mode, the sequence of the balls is unpredictable (e.g. 5, 1, 7, etc.).

Battle BilliardsEdit

In this game, players have three balls each and take turns shooting them across a stage. There is a flag in the center of the stage which earns players points for every turn it's possessed, and can be stolen by other players if hit. Players can also earn points by sinking other players' balls. The game is played by holding the Vita vertically, and using the touch screen to select balls, and line up shots.

Again, the game features three difficulties, which alter the number of obstacles on the board, such as additional pitfalls, less walls, and more bumpers.

Pixie HuntEdit

In this game, the player uses the Vita's rear camera to take pictures of objects the same color as the camera reticle. The player then uses the touch screen to draw lines between 'pixies', generated by accurately matching the color correctly, to earn points.

This game only features one game mode.

Love MazeEdit

In this game, the player uses both analog sticks of the Vita to navigate two monkeys simultaneously though a series of labyrinthine levels. If the monkeys move too far apart, the game will force a retry.

The game consists of six chapters that become progressively more challenging. Players can also practice individual levels.

Chapter One
1: Love Blossoms
2: Misunderstandings
3: To Overcome
4: Keeping Step
5: Promenade for Two

Chapter Two
1: Don't Break Up
2: Polar Opposites
3: Love Takes Teamwork
4: Rival in Love
5: Contrary Feelings

Chapter Three
1: An Unfolding Story
2: Wavering Eyes
3: Over the Hill
4: Fork in the Road
5: Let's Elope!

Chapter Four
1: Hearts Bridged
2: In the Pouring Rain
3: Round and Around
4: Interposing Wall
5: On Your Trail

Chapter Five
1: Catch Me If You Can
2: Blooming Field
3: Ambush
4: Starry Night
5: Engagement Ring

Chapter Six
1: Missing Companion
2: Wherever, Whenever
3: Meteor Shower
4: An Old Photograph
5: Till We Meet Again

CharactersEdit

AiAi - A popular monkey who loves bananas more than anything else, and thinks about them constantly as he enjoys his carefree life. There's no adventure he won't embark on, and no obstacle he can't overcome, if bananas are involved.

MeeMee - Has a very down to earth personality compared to AiAi. She loves AiAi with all her heart, but feels somewhat frustrated that he spends so much time thinking about bananas. Always wanting to look her best, she decorates her hair with a fragrant flower.

Baby - AiAi and MeeMee's baby, from the future. He's a little spoilt and tempermental, crying at the slightest provocation. Once he gets going, only MeeMee can stop the tears.

GonGon - A long time ago he was a very rough and tumble ape and considered himself and AiAi to be rivals, but now the two of them are very close friends. He trains hard every day to be the strongest of the monkeys.

The following characters are exclusive to Monkey Ball.

Tin AiAi - An AiAi fashioned out of tin.

Block MeeMee - A MeeMee built out of blocks.

Cardboard Baby - Baby, in cardboard form.

Clay GonGon - GonGon, sculpted out of clay.

The following characters are exclusive to Party Mode.

YanYan - A naughty young girl who moved into AiAi's neighbourhood. She's completely fearless, having learned Eight Monkey Fist - the strongest martial art in the monkey world - from her father. She was taken with AiAi the first time she laid eyes on him, and this causes her to occasionally embarrass herself.

Doctor - A mysterious old monkey that lives on the coast of Monkey Island. Though his real name remains unknown (possibly even to himself), he's very clever and has produced many inventions for the benefit of monkey-kind, hence the affectionate nickname "Doctor".

Jam - A cheerful and energetic guy who is mad about sports. He is a little scatterbrained, but is always willing to get behind AiAi in anything he does.

Jet - A kung fu master on a trip around the world. In a moment of enlightenment, he declared AiAi his rival the moment they first met. His stubborn refusal to lose means he can be quite mean at times, but at heart he's a romanticist with a keen taste for bananas. This side of his character must never be spoken of.

ReceptionEdit

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz received mixed reception upon release. Its current Metacritic average is 66/100, based on 31 reviews. Critics praised the game's level design, challenging difficulty, Love Maze game, and similarity to the earlier titles of the series, but criticized the underdeveloped level-editor, mediocre control scheme, low degree of polish, and some lack-lustre party games.

TriviaEdit

  • The game was originally planned for release in Summer 2012. However, it was delayed, except in Japan.
  • The manual includes a typo with YanYan's description: "[...] and this causes her to occasionally embarasses herself."

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