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Bonk's Adventure (Game Boy) artwork

Bonk's Adventure (Game Boy) review

"Bonk's Adventure for the Gameboy starts off looking like it's going to be a direct port of the Turbografx-16 classic. But it's not! The game stars the same big-headed caveman who bonks all his enemies with his noggin, and the story and some of the locales are the same, but things have been changed up just a bit, and that's somewhat refreshing. "

Bonk's Adventure for the Gameboy starts off looking like it's going to be a direct port of the Turbografx-16 classic. But it's not! The game stars the same big-headed caveman who bonks all his enemies with his noggin, and the story and some of the locales are the same, but things have been changed up just a bit, and that's somewhat refreshing.

Princess Za is now Princess Liza, but name change or not, she still gets used by the evil King Drool as bait for valiant boyfriend Bonk. Regrettably, the theme involving Bonk's friends, brainwashed by Drool, acting as bosses that our hero has to knock some sense into, has been nixed. All the bosses are different too (with the exception of Drool himself), so don't expect to see Gladys or Punchy Pedro. Instead we get a little Triceratops Tank, and other cutesy, fairly adequate replacements. Most of the regular cast of foes have returned thankfully, so you'll be seeing the eggshell-head hatchet guys (you'll even catch them driving little prehistoric cars in this version), and dinosaurs of the bespectacled and Bonk-swallowing varieties.

Bonk's basics are intact too: Bonk still bounces off flowers to uncover life-restoring fruit, to yield invincibility-giving meat, to spring to new heights, and sometimes, unluckily, to fall prey to flower traps. When Bonk eats a small piece of meat, he gets mean and he can damage foes even when his dive-bomb move (whereby he leaps into the air and drops head first) misses enemies and simply hits the ground. A second small piece of meat, or one large piece in the first place, will make Bonk impervious to harm for a short time after which he will still be incredibly strong, before then fading to the level of power effected by eating a small piece, and ultimately back to normal Bonk.

Opportunities to enter bonus rounds come along fairly frequently, so you'll have a chance to earn smiley faces for extra points (they also replenish your energy between levels), and fruit (which replenishes your energy on the spot!). Bonus rounds include jumping off a platform and seeing how many times you can spin head over heels - making sure to land on your feet; as well as getting to put one of your cooler in-game skills to the test in the wall climb, where Bonk literally climbs a wall with his oversized incisors. Skipping bonus rounds makes your mission move along a bit more expeditiously, but you'll miss out on the chance to maximize your point totals toward earning extra Bonks.

Bonk always looks great, no matter what system he's on. Hudson doesn't disappoint even on the tiny black and white screen. The enemies are extremely well drawn, and look just like their Turbografx counterparts. Everything is outlined thickly, and the benefit is two-fold: a clearer gaming experience, and a fitting cartoonish presentation.

The tunes in this black and white port are excellent for the Gameboy. Hudson took the very best tracks from the Turbo versions of Bonk's Adventure and Bonk's Revenge, and these two games have some of the best scores of any cutesy platformer around, Sonic and Mario included. So you'll enjoy the opportunity to pump the tunes in your earphones.

The main drawback with Bonk's first handheld adventure is its ease of play. If you've played a Bonk game before, you'll probably be able to cruise right through this incarnation without a hitch. Sometimes you'll remark to yourself that there are just no enemies to be found! And the stages are much, much shorter than you'll be accustomed to, often taking under a half-minute to run and jump your way through. Because of this lack of challenge, playing the game will often feel like going through the motions, which isn't good. You need some adversity to stay engaged and connected, and without it, unless you're a Bonk fanatic like me, you may well grow disinterested with the idea of simply stomping through the environs, their prettiness notwithstanding.

Still, whether or not you're a Bonk fan, you'll appreciate how colourful Hudson managed to make this, a black and white game. It's cute, well drawn, and it sounds brilliant. Bonk's charm is intact, and the boss encounters are still classic, if short. Just don't expect this one to have much replay value - it's too much of a pushover to fight for your enduring attention.

Rating: 6/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 09, 2003)

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