Monday, November 26, 2012

The Great Gaymathon Review #62: Banana (Famicom)

Game: Banana
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Victor Interactive Software
Publisher: Victor Interactive Software
System: Famicom
Release date: 1986

I have kind of a funny history (well, it's funny to me anyway) with Banana. For the longest time, I thought it and Takara's rather lackluster-looking platformer, Banana Prince, were one and the same. Then I came across (on Famicomblog) a photo of this game's packaging that made it clear the two titles were unique entities.

As for what prompted me to give this oddly named Famicom game a go: Well, the aforementioned packaging, which features an adorable mole wearing white gloves and what appears to be a pair of blue jeans, certainly got the proverbial ball rolling, but what kept it moving along was this YouTube video.

Admittedly, said video makes Banana look more than a little rough, but that's rarely deterred me in the past. Also, I'm one of those weirdos who actually likes the aesthetics of severely retro games.

Anyway, it wasn't just the colorfully chunky graphics that attracted me to Victor Interactive Software's maiden Famicom release. I also liked the looks of its gameplay, which at first called to mind such classics as Adventures of Lolo, Dig Dug, Magical Puzzle Popils and Wrecking Crew.

In the end, those comparisons aren't completely apt. A better one, I quickly came to learn, would be to compare it to First Star Software's Boulder Dash. That 1984 release is a cakewalk compared to Banana, though, thanks to the latter's devilish, "you'd better make the right moves in the right order--or else!" mentality.

Speaking of which, you'd probably like an explanation of how this pixelated puzzler plays, wouldn't you? The gist: You control the strangely dressed mole I mentioned earlier. He's plopped into each stage for some reason or other (sorry, I don't know the game's backstory--assuming there is one) and is tasked with gathering all of the fruit that's been deposited throughout each level (again, for some reason or another), retrieving the blue-haired lady mole who seems to be his girlfriend or wife and then somehow making it to the exit door.

That's harder than it sounds, of course, thanks in large part to the game's sense of gravity--which means that whenever you dig or fall or otherwise move in a downward direction, the only way you can move up again is to find a ladder and climb it. And if you can't? Hit the reset button and start over, because you basically got yourself stuck.

Oh, and most stages include boulders that, should you walk beneath them (and you will), fall into your path and make life even more challenging for you and your mole-y friends.

The good news among all of this doom and gloom: Banana is a lot of fun despite its sometimes brain-melting difficulty. Partially responsible for that are the game's cheerful (if basic) visuals, although the appealingly blippy background music, which calls to mind both Donkey Kong and Mario Bros., deserves a quite a bit of credit, too.


Justin Difazzio said...

Oh, I love hearing about this game! Some day I might actually play it!

And, hey, in the 7th paragraph, I think you meant to say "harder than it sounds" and not "easier". said...

Ha! Thanks, Justin :) Have you tried playing it via emulation? It doesn't work perfectly, from my experience, but it works well enough to get a good feel for what the game has to offer. Anyway, give it a try that way someday, if you're so inclined.

As for your comment about the beginning of the seventh paragraph: Doh! You're right. Thanks for point it out :)

2D2Will said...

I bought this game because you blogged about it a while ago. It's a good game. I'm enjoying it so far. said...

That's great, Will! I know it's as antiquated as hell, but I like that it's pretty unique as far as puzzlers go. Anyway, glad I could turn you onto it. Also, thanks for the comment :)

Lizzi said...

Hey Brian! I still think this game looks so freakin' cute! But I'm not a friend of emulators and I don't think I'll get a japanese Famicom so soon...

Hey I just found out that when you transfer all your content from your 3DS to your 3DS LL you lose it on the old one and there is a limit for transferring the content. So you can't use both systems but can't transfer it whenever you like either...

I'm kind of disappointed... what about all the people (like me) who want to use both systems?

I mean I payed for this system two times so why can't I use them both with my profile?

That kinda sucks... the charging-cable is missing in the 3DS LL-box and Nintendo explains it by saying "the most people who buy the 3DS LL, already got the 3DS so they don't need another cable". So they think people buy both and keep them (because of the missing cable) but there is no way you can use them both at the same time?
Sorry but I can't understand this :(

Now I don't know what to do. Which 3DS shall get/keep the savegames and my profile?

The new super-cute but matt-coloured Pikachu 3DS LL or my beautiful shiny but small Zelda 3DS? said...

I understand your frustration, Lizzi. It hasn't been a problem for me so far because I just plan on keeping my 3DSes separate. What I mean is that all the games that were downloaded onto my original 3DS will stay there. Also, the account I started on that 3DS will stay put. On my XL, I'll start a new (second) profile and will download additional games onto it over time. I know that isn't what everyone wants to do, and it definitely isn't how things should be (in my opinion), but that's how I'm choosing to deal with things.

BTW, I think one solution for you would to keep everything on your current (original) 3DS that you would like to take with you -- or that you would like to use for StreetPass situations, etc. Along similar lines, put everything on your XL that you plan to only (or mostly) use at home. That way, your original 3DS is set up for when you're out and about and your XL is set for playing at home.

As for the XL not having an AC adapter (charging cable): That's only the case in Europe and Japan, right? I ask because my XL came with one. It didn't come with the charging cradle, of course, but I never use the one that came with my original 3DS, so that isn't a problem with me.

All that said, you can buy a second AC adapter, can't you? I can see why you wouldn't want to do so (who wants to spend more money than they have to?), but it is a solution. Personally, I'd just use the one AC adapter (that came with your original 3DS) to replenish power to both of your 3DSes from here on out...

Lizzi said...

Oh so your pink 3DS XL finally arrived?

Your solution is one possible way to handle it but I just want to use both with my profile and my games (even if that means I have to update one systems when I decide to switch again). And to be honest... I NEVER use my 3DS outside in puplic. I'm just too afraid I lose it or it gets broken.

About the charging-cable: I think I will use the one I already got for both systems for a while. But I'm pretty sure I'll buy another one someday. I'm picky enough to want to have seperate cables for both my 3DSes.

I didn't knew that in America the cable was included. I never used the charging-station for the 3DS either but I like to have such extra-things so I can use it if I EVER want to. Just as the gamepad-stand which comes with the Wii U Deluxe Set. I'll probably never use it but I'll be happy that I got it :) said...

Expect to see a few photos of my shiny new pink-and-white XL tomorrow, Melody :)

Also, yes, the XL comes with an AC adapter here in the US -- or at least my pink XL came with one. No cradle, though.

I understand wanting to have the same profile, etc., on both of your 3DSes, but clearly Nintendo isn't OK with that at this point. I guess you'll have to just use one of them at a time?

Simon Lethbridge said...

I want to play this just because of its name :) said...

Well, Simon, don't just sit there -- go play it! Just be warned that it can be a bit wonky via emulation (in my experience, at least).