Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania was one of the most surprising reveals this year, and was announced as a celebration of the series’ 20th anniversary, but the game has turned into more of a celebration of Sega’s fan favorite characters.
Last time Super Monkey Ball hit store shelves, it was with Banana Mania HD: A remaster of the original Banana Mania that fans lauded for getting rid of messy motion controls in favor of a purified Monkey Ball experience. Another fun addition was Sonic as a playable character. We all assumed that this fun inclusion was little more than a nod to the franchise’s publishers, but Banana Mania has been dropping guest characters left and right!
Alongside Sonic, Tails will also get a chance to roll around with the monkeys in Banana Mania, but that’s nowhere near everyone that’s been announced. Jet Set Radio’s Beat is an unlockable character too, and playing with him will change the bananas scattered around the courses into spray cans as an extra homage to Beat’s home series. Jet Set Radio might not have any new entries on the horizon, but now fans can roll their character around in a giant clear ball!
Finally (and my personal favorite), Yakuza’s Kazuma Kiryu is in the game! He’s gotten a makeover to match Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania’s aesthetic, but that’s definitely the Dragon of Dojima trapped inside a giant hamster ball, as God intended. Funnily enough, this crossover a whole lot more sense after taking a look behind the scenes: Toshihiro Nagoshi, the director of the Yakuza series, made a name for himself in game design while working on Super Monkey Ball, and both franchises are helmed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. Not only this, but Super Monkey Ball characters have even appeared in Yakuza games as collectible prizes, so it’s only fair that Kiryu returns the favor. His courses will be dotted with Stamin-X instead of bananas, which fans of his series will remember as one of the most useful healing items in his games.
Somehow, that’s not even the best part: all of these characters will be freely unlockable in the game without any extra payments, no DLC required! Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania releases October 5th for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, Switch and PC. You can watch Kiryu’s reveal trailer below.