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Super Bonk (Nintendo SNES) Review
Review by 
6.5/10 from one rating
 
Back in the days when it was considered necessary for a console to be represented by a mascot to be successful, NEC chose Bonk to represent the TurboGrafx-16. The console having never gained much traction outside of Japan, the little caveman with a huge head eventually made his way on other platforms. Can you guess which console Super Bonk was for?


Platformers from the 90s being all so similar, how did Bonk differentiate itself? Well, one look at the protagonist should tell you where his strength lies: his head. While simply jumping on enemies will hurt is tiny body, making Bonk dive head first into them or headbutt them will take care of most baddies. Additionally, Bonk has the strange ability to slow his fall if you constantly flip upside-down during a jump, which is vital to reach certain secret areas.

The main thing that made Bonk stand out back in the day, however, was not so much the character design or abilities, as much as the fantastic-looking, huge, colorful sprite. SNES and Genesis gamers were seldom treated to such good-looking, oversized, cartoony sprites. The TG-16 had a quasi-monopoly on those... at least until Super Bonk came out.

The game is a looker, not doubt about that. The colors and sprite size were preserved on the SNES hardware, and "Mode 7" effects were thrown in for good measure during boss battles. Furthermore, new power-ups allowed Bonk to shrink OR to quadruple in size. Truly impressive, even if at times slowdown rears its ugly heard, but not enough to be more than distracting.

So Bonk on the SNES has the look and abilities he does on the TG-16... does that necessarily mean that the game is any good?

Once I got over the graphics, I was initially similarly impressed with the level design. The first level not only seemed to never end, but it seemed truly open. Falling into a pit or in water does not kill you, you simply access a different part of the level. You could try to jump your way through the level on platforms hanging in the sky, traverse the level on the ground, or explore its basement. Any way you chose, you can get to the end and meet the huge boss.

As I kept playing, however, I became less impressed, and more annoyed. The levels may be huge, and you may be free to chose how to get through them, but a little more direction could have gone a long way. Too often, a fork in the road simply means that whatever path you take, you will wonder what you missed out on. Probably not much since collecting the smiley faces in the game only give you points, as it turns out, but the question is always there. You always wonder: was the other path more fun? There is no way to tell short of backtracking or playing the game again, but there are so many such forks, and so little indication of what each possibility has in store for you, that you probably won't remember which one you haven't seen.

I just described levels 1 and 2. Levels 3 and 4 are essentially mazes and, Bonk being a rather slow hero, they are a bit tedious to get through. Level 5 is finally the more linear obstacle course that I prefer, but it is short, and it also happens to be the last level in the game.

In the end, Super Bonk did not feel as satisfying as I had hoped. The impressive graphics can't make up for the fact that it is short, easy, and kind of tedious. I am still glad to have experienced it if simply because it is so Japanese. Seriously, have you watched the above video? Aren't those transformations crazy? Wait until you discover that being eaten by a simple enemy doesn't not simply take away some health, but means that you will need to get through its digestive track...

I can only recommend the game to those who, upon reading the above paragraph, instinctively reached for a Nintendo Points card. The others can probably get their fix of bright and colorful graphics elsewhere.

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Posted: 04/25/11, 06:16:06  - Edited by 
 on: 04/25/11, 08:21:04    
 
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Five levels is kinda crappy. OT, but I just finished Dementium 2 which has five chapters and it felt way too short. But I guess since there are multiple paths in Super Bonk you're supposed to replay the game at least once to experience it all. Any good platformer has instant replay value, and it seems like that doesn't apply here, sadly.

I am looking to check out a Bonk game some time, and it looks like I'll be downloading one of the TG-16 games (is there one in particular you would recommend over the others?).

You should check out DKC3 to snap out of this platforming funk. Solid game is waiting for you, calling your name.


Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 07:12:10
I've only played Bonk's Revenge and this one, and I definitely prefer BR.

But I don't find Bonk to be on par with the other mascot platformers out there, in general. Worth trying out for 600 pts, but don't except to have your mind blown.

And yeah yeah, I will get to DKC3 eventually. But I've got a couple of platformers that I've already downloaded and not beaten, and the list includes both Mario 2's...


Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 07:15:08
Ah cool, I recently beat the Super Mario All Stars version of SMB2J. Some stages took me upwards of an hour of die and retry. Good luck with the original


Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 07:18:31
It's weird I didn't hear about this game when it came out on SNES, I thought I knew the SNES library pretty well back in the day because I had the power... Nintendo Power!

I played the Bonk's Adventure games (TG16) for the first time on VC and really did enjoy them.

Despite your somewhat low score, your description (and video) gives me a bit of an itch to play this game.

I'm kind of sad that Bonk: Brink of Extinction (in development for PSN, XBLA, and WiiWare) was canceled.


Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 21:52:59
I don't remember this game, but I have played the TG-16 Bonk's Adventure on the VC. It really wasn't up to the same standard as Mario. But it was a pleasant diversion, even if I never go back. The movement mechanics really are weird, though. I kind of wish that Bonk couldn't just float everywhere and climb up every wall. Or do both combined, especially. It makes it too easy to cheese the game.


Posted by 
 on: 04/25/11, 23:30:38  - Edited by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:37:40
Meh, my review is better, but I'm glad to see I'm not alone with the opinion that the open levels are not that awesome an idea.


Posted by 
 on: 04/29/11, 09:23:02  - Edited by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:14:17
???

I can probably guess what happened, though.

Open levels plus 2D = weird and unfocused. It didn't work for Blade Kitten, that's for sure. The approach was kind of interesting in Wario: Master of Disguise, though. That game was so un-Nintendo. And it's Wario!!


Posted by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:11:10  - Edited by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:12:33
Damn you, 14 other people who viewed the page since that last post who didn't say anything!


Posted by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:14:47
They didn't care as much about Bonk as I do!


Posted by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:23:21
Haven't played Super Bonk, but I feel pretty similar to Anand about the original Bonk. It's a pleasant game that just isn't quite up to the standard of Mario (or Sonic). Super Bonk looks all too similar to the original game.


Posted by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:25:08
Even the "openness" of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games is a little much for me. I too found Super Bonk a chore to play. I rented it way back in the day. I loved the graphics though so I powered through.

I'm not big on the Bonk mechanics. Even the TG16 games are meh to me.


Posted by 
 on: 04/29/11, 18:28:05
@kriswright

I'm laughing because there I am saying I've never played Super Bonk, and yet I own it on SNES and owned it even when I typed that. Whoops. That's what I get for buying a bunch of carts in an eBay lot. Sometimes I don't know what I have.

Good review, btw.


Posted by 
 on: 08/06/11, 13:24:37
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