When SEGA announced that the classic Monkey Ball games were being remastered, fans went absolutely bananas. And for good reason: Super Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball 2 are widely beloved by those who played them in the early 2000s and they’ve been clamoring for a remake or remaster for years. They got their wish: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania rolls out on Oct. 5, and we couldn’t be more excited.
As we continue to inch toward the launch date, SEGA keeps divulging details on the game and what both long-time fans and newcomers can expect. Mega Visions has you covered with all the latest scoops and info on Banana Mania, including characters, new features and bonus content. Below, we cover everything you need to know before jumping into the game this fall.
We’ll be sure to give you all the latest updates, so continue to check back here for the latest Banana Mania happenings.
A history of the mania
The Monkey Ball series, developed by Amusement Vision (now known as Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio), began in June 2001 with the release of Monkey Ball in arcades, which was then ported to the Nintendo GameCube as Super Monkey Ball in September. A sequel, Super Monkey Ball 2, launched on GameCube the following year, and from there spawned a number of titles. In 2005, the first two games were re-released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox as Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, which included original levels as well.
After 2012’s Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz for the PlayStation Vita, the series lay dormant for a while. Then, SEGA announced that a classic Monkey Ball game was coming back with an HD remaster of the 2006 Wii title Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. While Banana Blitz HD wasn’t exactly what fans wanted, it showed that SEGA was interested in keeping the franchise alive.
The official reason behind remastering Banana Blitz over other titles was, apparently, budget and time constraints. As Monkey Ball director and Yakuza series designer Masao Shirosaki told Crunchyroll: “When considering how to bring Super Monkey Ball to modern platforms with the limited time and budget we had, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz was the most reasonable option.”
Some speculated that Banana Blitz HD was also a move by SEGA to test the waters and see if giving the original games the same treatment would be worth the investment. Clearly, it did well enough to convince them. At Nintendo’s E3 Direct in June, we got our first glimpse at Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania featuring, of all things, a 2001: A Space Odyssey reference. A peculiar choice, but enticing nonetheless!
Getting the ball rolling: gameplay, levels, and story
Banana Mania is a remaster of SMB, SMB2, and SMB Deluxe, compiling over 300 individual levels from those games. You play as a monkey trapped in a ball who needs to make it to the goal at the end of each stage before the timer runs out. SMB’s gameplay is easy to understand, but make no mistake: it’s no walk in the park. You have to take advantage of physics by rotating the stage to roll past obstacles and gaps. It’s a deceptively simple premise that delivers plenty of challenges.
Classic minigames will also return, including Monkey Baseball, Monkey Bowling, and Monkey Racing. The game includes 12 minigames total which can be played through local multiplayer. However, except for leaderboards, online multiplayer will not be supported. (UPDATE: At Gamescom, SEGA confirmed the minigames included in Banana Mania: Monkey Target, Baseball, Tennis, Race, Fight, Dogfight, Bowling, Billards, Golf, Soccer, Shot, and Boat Race.)
Eagle-eyed fans noted that the trailer showed what looked like a dedicated jump feature, something not present in the originals. This led to concerns that jumping would completely break these older levels. Fear not: SEGA has confirmed that jumping is an unlockable feature turned off by default:
It also looks like the game is bringing back the story mode from SMB2 in some form. The official website promises a “creative comic book-style story” — which leads us to believe the original cutscenes will be discarded in favor of new ones. Makes sense seeing as how the first game and Deluxe had no story, but that would mean a charmingly disturbing SMB2 cutscene will not be present. Fans know the one I mean. (Hint: it’s the hot tub one.)
A barrel full of monkeys: who’s playable in Banana Mania?
The original Monkey Ball games featured four playable primates: AiAi, Meemee, Baby, and Gongon. They’ll return in Banana Mania alongside four monkeys who debuted in later titles: Doctor and YanYan from Banana Blitz and Jam and Jet from Super Monkey Ball 3D. You’ll be able to customize them with cosmetics and ball accessories to give your monkey more personality.
UPDATE: SEGA has announced multiple new guest characters in the weeks since this article was first published. See who’s in the game below:
- SEGA confirmed that Kazuma Kiryu from Yakuza is joining the roster.
- At Gamescom 2021, SEGA announced that Morgana from Persona will be available post-launch as a DLC character.
- In a surprise announcement, we also know that world-famous mascot Hello Kitty will be available as DLC.
- Just one day after the Hello Kitty announcement, we also learned that Suezo from Monster Rancher is joining the roster. They will be available as DLC on Oct. 19th.
More guest appearances have yet to be announced.
The second bananas: bonus content
Banana Mania will launch on Oct. 5 with exclusive pre-order content available for those who want it. All pre-orders come with the Bonus Cosmetic Pack, containing 10 items for monkey customization.
In North America, SEGA is releasing the Anniversary Edition as a deluxe physical edition. This version includes a collectible sleeve, a reversible cover, and a 40-page art book. European players have the Launch Edition which includes the cover and (at select retailers) the art book.
For those planning to get a digital copy, in addition to the standard release, there’s also the Digital Deluxe Edition. Available on all consoles and PC, this version includes four content packs: the Classic Character Pack, unlocking retro skins for each monkey; the SEGA Legends Pack, letting you play as a Game Gear, Dreamcast, or Saturn; the Customization Pack, a set of unique (and pink!) cosmetics; and the Classic Soundtrack, giving you access to the original tunes.
All four packs will be available as DLC for $4.99 USD each if you don’t get the Digital Deluxe Edition.
So where can you pre-order Banana Mania?
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania is developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and will be released on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. The game will launch on Oct. 5, 2021. Retail prices are $29.99 USD for standard editions and $39.99 USD for deluxe versions.
You can pre-purchase the game on Steam as well.
Watch the game trailers below!