System: Famicom (Japan)
Release Date: September 8, 1986
What could a game called “Banana” be about? If you said a puzzle game where a mole needs to navigate a maze to find the exit with his Daughter In-Law while eating nuts and fruits then…wow! Good guess! Some translations say that you are saving your wife, but Daughter In-Law implies that your deadbeat son/her husband just does not care that his wife is stuck in a fruit themed labyrinth, which makes for a much more interesting story!
And that’s pretty much the game…just go through 105 mazes which increase in difficulty and size as you go on. Stage 1 is one screen and stage 105 is something like 18 screens, which can make it easy to forget where fruit is or how you are going to line up your path. The load time between screens is also cumbersome, especially when you have to move left and right repeatedly near the edge of the screen! You also deal with some pretty odd restrictions: you can only move left, right and down through green dirt, which creates a path. The only way you can go up is with the help of ladders so it is very easy to get stuck.
Bananas, which oddly enough are in very limited supply throughout the game, give you items that help you out, such as a ladder piece, a rock, a bomb and a rope for climbing. A peeled banana gives you an extra life, because eating a peeled banana is much better for you than an un-peeled one (I tell you this from experience). If you eat enough bananas and fruit in a level you turn into a mole wearing a disco suit which allows you to smash through five rocks…and then sometimes a kid appears with your Daughter In- Law…I’m still trying to figure out how I did that and who the hell that kid is!
This is why disco died.
I was able to get through maybe 90% of this game walkthrough free (this is what I used http://www.gamefaqs.com/nes/578312-banana/faqs/44186 ) The challenge of many of the level designs require you to create rock platforms or shift a rock in order to complete a move that you won’t need to do until five minutes into the level, so you WILL make a wrong move and you WILL need to start over many many times. No offence to the person who created the walkthrough, but near the end many mistakes were made which prevented me from finishing the level using the directions provided, so I ended up just figuring it out myself, which I guess you could see as a positive. I can’t blame him though, I could only play for a certain amount of time before Banana fatigue kicked in…symptoms which include headaches, blurred vision, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate and screaming.
At the title screen there is an option that allows you to start at any fifth stage (stage 1, 6, 11, etc.) as well as an option to design your own levels, but since I played this on my 110 in 1 game cartridge which has no saving abilities, all you can create is a never ending loading screen.
The music is terrible, and to make matters worse, your mole makes his own squeaky music when he walks…so you basically have two high pitch soundtracks blaring at the same time!
Despite the lack of story and the music and the lacklustre environments, this is a challenging puzzle game. But you REALLY have to like puzzles in order to sit through 105 levels…to get an ending that makes as much sense as a game about a Banana obsessed mole can be.
A Helicopter brings them to the house and then they just stare at you…and slowly burn away your soul.
Prime Time Rating: 5/10