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Bonk's Revenge (Game Boy) artwork

Bonk's Revenge (Game Boy) review


"It pains me to sum up this Bonk experience, because there are little in the way of saving graces. And I love the series. And I loved Bonk's Adventure for the Gameboy despite its utter lack of challenge and intensity. Charm saw it through! The utter lack of challenge is back in this sequel, but the charm is nowhere to be found."



If you're new to the Bonk phenomenon, don't let this game be your initiation. In fact, don't play this game at all. In a genre where sequels rarely miss their mark (I haven't played a poor Super Mario Brothers or Sonic game yet), Bonk's Revenge for the Gameboy is deplorable.

The Bonk games for the Turbografx-16, the console where the series debuted, were always bright and brilliant. Bonk (the hero of the games), would be called into action by the devious doings of one King Drool to either save his beloved Moonland, or his beloved Princess Za. And his head was his weapon.

These basic ingredients have remained intact for the two Bonk renditions to grace the Gameboy, but while the black and white Bonk's Adventure gave us the beautiful tunes and charming journeying we've come to expect from the series, this sequel gives us absolutely offensive sounds and an ''I don't know why we bothered'' attitude.

Certainly the tunes and sounds in all previous Bonk games were a strongpoint - they have been butchered here. Discordant squeaks and squawks replace once great melodies. Don't expect to hear any of the great tracks from the Turbo version of Bonk's Revenge - most of those were already packed into the great little GameBoy package that preceded this particular abomination. At least there's one good song: the short tune that plays as you finish a stage.

Strangely, Bonk himself has been redesigned, and he's definitely seen better days. Our prehistoric hero is no longer the cute, big-headed caveman we've come to love. Instead, he seems expressionless, and his legs scamper about in some ridiculous imitation of Shaggy running in midair from a pursuant ghost in a Scooby Doo rerun.

Seeing the state that poor Bonk had been reduced to (can we say self-parody?) was almost enough to make me say screw it, and trade away the game immediately, but I sucked it up and played on - a bad move!

Anyway, as the fearless, hairless protagonist, you've still got your standing head-butt attack, as well as the jump, spin, and dive-bomb attack. As Bonk runs and jumps about, happy face icons hang about to be collected for points and for vitality regeneration between levels. Bonk could always climb walls with his teeth, but now he can climb ceilings and hang on to floors in the same way. Bonk still loves to bounce on flowers too. Some flowers spring him up like trampolines, others bear fruit to restore lost vitality, and still others provide him with meat.

But the meat…! A big piece (or two smaller ones) used to turn the insatiable caveman carnivore into a raving lunatic capable of trampling all foes in his path! A smaller piece would make him powerful enough to pound the ground with his forehead and damage any enemy nearby! How times have changed for the hardy, hardly Homosapien! Now a different, generic sort of power up is responsible for making Bonk invincible, while earning a slab of beef simply gives Bonk the opportunity to choose from three different Bonk types.

The lamest of the three is the big-eyed, teeth gnashing Bonk, who chomps on foes rather than head-butting them. From there, we have a high jumping Bonk with ears borrowed from Mr. Spock, whose skills are rarely called into action. Finally, the Bonk persona with the most potential for coolness is burglar Bonk, complete with striped prison outfit and skullcap. You see, there are locked doors scattered around the environs that only burglar Bonk can open. It's actually sort of neat to see him picking at the lock to see his way in. These rooms contain either more meat (Butcher), healing hearts (Hospital), or a happy face 'depletion chamber' (Jail).

If there were more useful items to be gained by entering these secret rooms, the idea would actually be viable. But even so, choosing a Bonk persona involves hitting a button at the right moment while the different Bonk types cycle above the hero's head very quickly - so Hudson has sabotaged any remaining usefulness of the Bonk-switching function by making it a game of chance.

Bonus rounds were once a happy distraction, offering innovation and lots of variety in previous games in the series. Not here! Every bonus flower lands you in a lamer than lame match up against some robo-Bonk on a platform. The idea is to 'bonk him off' while you try to avoid him doing the same to you. Beat him two out of three times and earn an extra man. Lose the match though, and return to the proceedings as what I like to call 'lame Bonk', who sort of ambles about like a lost mummy.

There is a decidedly futuristic look to the levels, which is a move that goes unexplained, and while it worked in Super Bonk, it seems like a flat out mindless decision here. The listless conveyor belts and space helmeted monsters simply add to the already established, overall lameness factor. The returning eggshell hatchet guys are always fun to bonk senseless, but the new additions shouldn't have made it into the game. And instead of the angry faced, yet somehow endearing prehistoric creatures-cum-colourful robots, we get bosses like the poorly drawn and thought out alien (straight out of Alien, the movie), and a silly Darth Vader rip off before we ultimately, thankfully meet up with King Drool himself, and end the misery for both Drool and ourselves.

It pains me to sum up this Bonk experience, because there are little in the way of saving graces. And I love the series. And I loved Bonk's Adventure for the Gameboy despite its utter lack of challenge and intensity. Charm saw it through! The utter lack of challenge is back in this sequel, but the charm is nowhere to be found. Playing Bonk's Revenge is like sleepwalking through a vapid wasteland of good ideas badly remixed while your ears are assailed by terrible sounds, your eyes by lame enemies that last night's drinking seems responsible for conjuring up.

God, I can't do this. Here: the happy face icon counter and the once smiling Bonk 1up icons are now sad faces. They're actually frowning! The funness of Bonk twisted and trapped in a horrible game made them frown! Surely this says it all?

Rating: 3/10

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

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