With every hardware launch, a monkey ball is destined to be there.
Even the iPhone's app store launched with a Monkey Ball title ready for mobile gamers eager to spend money on software. Getting taken for a ride in one of those little balls is never fun, so it's reassuring to see Sega give Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz, the latest in the series for the Vita, the time it needs to be something truly special.
In fact, Splitz packs in quite a few features that even the lapsed Monkey should pay attention to. First and foremost is the ability to create your own levels using the Vita's cameras.
Once you pick up the Vita and shoot a picture of any object in your world, Banana Splitz will turn it into a Monkey Ball level full of twists and turns and bumps along the way. At E3, we took a picture of a pencil to test the feature out. Despite the rather boring subject matter, Banana Splitz dolled up our image to make the level more interesting. I can't imagine a straight line would make for a very entertaining Monkey Ball level.
Another level was created by taking a picture of a Monkey Ball developer's face. Creating and sharing levels will add endless amounts of content to Banana Splitz and having the title on the Vita will let you create levels out of anything you see. [How about a picture of a Monkey Ball level turned into a Monkey Ball level turned into a Monkey Ball level turned into...? ~ Ed. Nick]
Perhaps more importantly, Sega has decided not to force players to use the Vita's motion controls. The option is there, but you can use the analog sticks to control the tilting levels in Banana Splitz if you so choose.
With crisp, colorful graphics, endless creativity, and control options, this might be a high watermark in the series. Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz is set for release on PlayStation Vita on October 20.