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Super Bonk (SNES) artwork

Super Bonk (SNES) review


"Bonk is a little caveman with a big heart... and head. His cranium takes up about 80% of his total size, but you wouldn't think it from his display of idiocy to start off this newest adventure. King Drool, the once massive dinosaur tyrant of Bonk's world, Moonland, has returned. Strangely, he's now Bonk's size. Not so strangely, he has a new scheme devised to give our hero fits. A big, juicy piece of meat on the ground calls out to the greedy protagonist. Never mind that there is actually a sign saying ''TRAP'' right in front of it; Bonk goes for the food and gets trapped in a glass capsule thing, and is sent forward in time. Or something. "



Turn your gameroom into a padded room!

Bonk is that bald guy from the dinosaur times who takes out bad guys with his skull. You probably have only heard tell of him in hushed whispers as you huddled around campfires up at the cottage. After all, wasn't it only your second cousin twice removed who actually owned a Turbografx-16 system? It sure was hard to tell fact from myth!

Rest assured the that bald one really existed on that underrated console, and his somewhat rare appearance on the Super NES should convince you that you were missing out on a whole lot of fun playing your Super Mario and Sonic games over and over way back when in the 16-bit days of olde when you could have sought out the HuCard adventures of the cutest caveman around.

Bonk is a little caveman with a big heart... and head. His cranium takes up about 80% of his total size, but you wouldn't think it from his display of idiocy to start off this newest adventure. King Drool, the once massive dinosaur tyrant of Bonk's world, Moonland, has returned. Strangely, he's now Bonk's size. Not so strangely, he has a new scheme devised to give our hero fits. A big, juicy piece of meat on the ground calls out to the greedy protagonist. Never mind that there is actually a sign saying ''TRAP'' right in front of it; Bonk goes for the food and gets trapped in a glass capsule thing, and is sent forward in time. Or something.

The resulting adventure represents some of the craziest, most entertaining platforming you'll ever experience--if you're clever enough to hunt down this cartridge. And I know you are! And I hope you will!

Bonk's basic moves include the straightforward walk and bonk, (a furious head nodding motion), and the more risky aerial 'spin bonk' maneuver, and finally, the dive-bomb, where Bonk lands on something--or someone--head first. Flowers allow Bonk to uncover fruits, and the odd trap. Yellow flowers act as springs to propel Bonk to greater heights, and others reveal extra special goodies like extra lives and propeller flowers for flying. Yes, Bonk can fly--with assistance, as well as spinning face first on tree branches and climbing face first up sheer cliffs. And Bonk can swim. Whether in the lakes and oceans, bonking off piranhas when they swarm him jaws and teeth first--or inside the belly of a creature that manages to swallow him!

In a nod to Bonk III: Bonk's Big Adventure, the little guy that could, can also eat candies to change size. By eating a red candy, he can shrink down to mini-Bonk, who is given the amazing power in certain levels to RAGE on his enemies! With the press of a button, the tiny Bonk will shoot out a stream of granite letters spelling out ''RAGE!'' The words travel on one horizontal plane, and if they meet up with a wall, they bounce off and go in the opposite direction, losing a letter with each 'collision'. The point of all this is that Bonk can RIDE THE RAGE! Some levels point to this power as being the key to get to the exit.

Aside from the RAGE power, little Bonk is useful for exploring the narrow nooks and crannies around the various environs. If you need to be normal Bonk again, you'll need to find a yellow candy. A blue one will bring about Super Bonk, who takes up something like one third of the height of the screen and packs a monstrous head butt. Super Bonk can't do anything special like RAGE, but if he gets hold of a piece of meat, look out!

When normal or little Bonk chow down on a small piece of meat, they get mean. Their flying head butts aimed at the ground can freeze foes, and their normal head butts will do more damage than usual. Two pieces of meat, or one large piece, will make Bonk run wild, invincible for as long as the hectic music and crazy flashing last. When the invincibility wears off, he'll still look positively off his rocker, fuming and foaming, eyes glazed and googly.

Here's where things get really cool: as Super Bonk, the one piece of meat manifests an angry Bonk with the body of a chicken! And it gets weirder still: the chicken Bonk can turn his back, cock his ass, and lay explosive eggs on enemies! The second piece of meat trades in Super Bonk's chicken form for that of a dragon! His special power is turning INVISIBLE... he'll be able to PASS THROUGH ENEMIES while you track only his eyes on the screen!

I don't know what the creators at Hudson were smoking, or snorting, or injecting when they came up with most of Super Bonk's ideas, but man. If you thought the idea of a bigheaded caveman kid bonking boxing dinosaurs and the like in the Turbografx games was weird enough, this SNES update really takes the madness to another level.

Sometimes I feel a bit crazy myself, just playing this game. But the gameplay is so much fun, you quickly forget that you should be committed for being so involved in the whole thing. Running on conveyor belts, twisting your deformed body down winding, looping, zigzagging tubes, and taking a turn as a flying crab shooting down spinning coins (yes, a bloody flying crab, yet!)... The madness never ends!

Alien life forms slither on platforms and ride tanks for the bonking; boulders carry across spiked pits for the riding. Antigravity rooms tug Bonk's feather-light body off the ground and into space where spikes and alien astronauts gaggle. He'll find himself in a kid's room, bouncing off beds and light switches; in an actual drink, swimming down a straw; on an unending bed of spikes, racing from meat chunk to meat chunk to stay alive and unscathed; and in the clouds doing battle with a Pterosaur with the body of a big banana.

Bonus round flowers are hidden all around the six long worlds, giving Bonk the chance to experience playing basketball with his head, blow up a 'balloon' by dive-bombing on a pump, and other hilarious diversions to earn points and happy face icons toward extra lives. Certain enemies even conspire to steal your happy faces! One is a weirdo dressed in old-school burglar mask bearing a knife and fork as if to dine on his loot. Other loonies include bosses such as the giant pink rabbit girl who uses her hare ears to knock your heart containers right off the screen, and a spinning Triceratops wielding a spiked bat.

Super Bonk is a step up from the Turbografx games in terms of presentation to be sure. The graphics are sharper and offer more depth and more subtle shading and more obscure hues finessed into the colourful cartoonish backdrops. Bonk's Adventure and Bonk's Revenge featured some of the best mascot music ever, so it's a tough task to ask Super Bonk to better those games in the audio department. Still, while there are not so many memorable ''theme-quality'' tunes in Super Bonk, on the whole there are more good tracks here than in any other Bonk game. These tunes are supremely hummable and there are a great variety of them to boot.

If there's a weakness in this madcap package, it's the slightly iffy controls when Bonk tries to dive-bomb. It's one thing, but it's annoying enough to knock the game down a peg or two when the previous Bonk incarnations had flawless controls. And a more minor nitpick would be that the game seems a little long not to have any save points or passwords. You'll need to set aside a solid two hours to make the mission complete. You might need even more time if you try to visit every bonus round--these diversions and the ability to clear many levels a variety of ways almost lift this gem to the Super Mario World stratosphere... and that's rare air indeed.

Super Bonk won't be a difficult trek for Bonk aficionados to make, and even rookies will be smashing King Drool inside of a week, but damn the destination man, it's all about the journey--and they don't get any more entertaining than this.

Rating: 9/10

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (January 13, 2004)

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