Get ready to go bananas.
Manic Monkey Mayhem is a WiiWare game with purpose. From the outset, your singular goal is to throw bananas at other monkeys. While banana-throwing battles may sound like a fun prospect to some, the game can be reduced to a potentially entertaining multiplayer experience hindered by poor presentation, scope, and controls.
The single-player campaign, local or online multiplayer, and the various modes therein are all set on stages consisting of miniscule columns for the monkeys to stand upon. From these platforms, the monkeys have the ability to hurl bananas, leap to an empty column, dodge attacks, and procure more bananas. No matter what mode you select, be it survival, pass-the-box, or outright deathmatch, each game type is ultimately reduced to using these four mechanics.
The game controls in a similar fashion to Boom Blox, or at least it attempts to. When throwing a banana, only the horizontal orientation of the Wii Remote matters. Since the game only detects about three ranges of swinging accelerations, a swing with severity that does not lie within a small acceptable range will either fly over or fall short of your target at set angles. What felt refined and realistic in Boom Blox feels half-baked and difficult to use in Manic Monkey Mayhem.
Frustrating throwing controls in a game purely about throwing are not the only input-related impediments in Manic Monkey Mayhem. Turning the Wii Remote to rotate the camera is not responsive enough to effectively keep an eye out for the enemies outside of your limited viewing angle. Because the A button toggles the throwing mode, once a banana is released, any further motion will cause the camera to spin. Furthermore, shaking the Wii Remote to summon more bananas must be done with wrist-shattering violence.
The word mayhem is a great place to start when describing Manic Monkey Mayhem's audio-visual presentation. From the moment you boot up the game, you are greeted by the screeches and howls of various monkeys. This primatial cacophony continues for the duration of your session. What may have started as an attempt at humor ended up as an all-out assault on the ear drums.
The game's poor audio accompaniment rests alongside a sparse graphical display. The geometry of each level is uninspiring, and this WiiWare release looks all too similar to its cheaper iPhone and PSP counterparts.
The most fun to be had with Manic Monkey Mayhem is in reading text descriptions for the various monkey characters. Tragically, the game fails to capitalize on its cast, which had the potential to bring some much needed flavor to the banana battles. Even the game's campaign modes are simply sequences of levels without any sort of story to string players along.
Were the controls, use of characters, and game variety given a boost in quality, Manic Monkey Mayhem could potentially warrant its 800 Wii Point ($8) price tag. With no such improvements in sight, Manic Monkey Mayhem is a WiiWare game to avoid.