Previous Super Monkey Ball games were known for two things: their simple controls that, while easy to get to grips with, had a hidden depth that allowed masters of the game to become magicians of monkey manoeuvrability; and the wide selection of multiplayer mini-games such as Monkey Target, Monkey Golf and so on. So anyone who's dabbled with either of the original games will no doubt be hoping that the Wii version offers more of the same.
The truth is, it does and it doesn't. In terms of control, Banana Blitz will disappoint Monkey Ball die-hards at first, as the limits of control (in other words, how far the level turned when you moved the analogue stick to its furthest) have been reduced by a fair amount, meaning you'll no longer be able to hurtle down levels at ridiculous speeds or make extremely tight turns.
This means that the first 30 minutes or so of gameplay will be somewhat frustrating as you point your Wii Remote as far downwards as you can in the hope your ball will pick up speed, only to realise it's already at its top speed and is never going to go so fast that the monkey starts rolling about inside the ball like he did in the earlier games.
You'll also find the turning method tricky at first, with you having to roll your wrist to turn the stage left or right. Although it does make sense in terms of how the game works, for a while you'll wish you could plug the Nunchuk in and use its analogue stick instead, just because you're more used to it.
But after about half an hour it suddenly clicks and you'll realise that this really is the best way to play the game. Monkey Ball purists may see the inclusion of a jump button as a shocking addition that totally changes the way the game's played, but eventually they'll realise that the ability to jump will let them pull off even more extreme moves once they get used to things.
The main thing you need to realise is that Banana Blitz is simply a different sort of Monkey Ball. Instead of horsing it through the levels as quickly as possible, this time you have to think tactically about what you're doing, jumping where and when necessary, and planning out how you're going to tackle each level.
The game also now throws a boss level at you when you come to the end of each world. Whereas the idea of a boss battle wouldn't really have worked in previous Super Monkey Ball games, the inclusion of the jump button means your chimp now has a potential form of attack. As a result, most of these battles are a case of dodging your opponent's attacks until they expose their weak point, at which point you roll over, jump up and bash into it.
Though they might seem like something that's just been tacked on, the boss fights do provide a pleasant change from the usual 'roll to the exit' gameplay and help break up things quite well.
Overall, the main game itself, although initially slightly disappointing, ends up feeling 'right' reasonably quickly - probably by the time you get to the third world or so - and you do eventually start to enjoy yourself.
The mini-games, on the other hand, give the opposite impression. Instead of seeming frustrating at first like the main game does, the mini-games are immediately hugely entertaining. While fans of Monkey Target may be disappointed with the new version (there's no ramp, for starters), with exactly 50 mini-games on offer we'd put good money on there being something here for everyone.
One of our favourites mini-games is Disk Golf, a golf-type mini-game that involves throwing a Frisbee around on a golf course and trying to break a glass case containing a bunch of bananas (with the Wii Remote being 'thrown' Frisbee-style - while you remember not to let go, obviously).