Review by darthjulian
Funny and enjoyable revival of a PC Engine classic
On NEC´s famed cult console PC Engine, Bonk was considered to be among the best game available, a Jump & Run experience some even saw as a worthy rival for Nintendo´s awesome Mario series. With "Super Bonk", our cute, big headed main character Bonk made his first appearance on Nintendo´s no. 1 16-Bit machine, competing against the absolute elite consisting of the Donkey Kong Country and of course Super Mario World franchises. But was Bonk able to live up to his reputation? And more importantly, was Hudson Soft able to create a Jump & Run that can compete with the SNES elite?
Not quite, but more on that later. "Super Bonk" represents a quite unique Jump & Run experience involving quite a few fresh and interesting new ideas and twists as well as some trademark elements of the Bonk series, like the setting of the game itself. Much like the "Joe & Mac" games, "Chuck Rock" or "Congo´s Caper", "Super Bonk" is set in a comic-like Jurassic era, with you taking the role of the young caveman Bonk and battling through tons of dinosaur enemies and other weird but creative monsters in order to defeat the fiendish King Drool, our hero´s nemesis and arch enemy. And unlike Mario or Donkey Kong, Bonk does not defeat his opponents by hopping onto their heads - on the contrary, he hits and defeats all these nasty dinosaurs and monster with his huge skull. It´s quite funny, Bonk-typical aspect, and certainly a nice change from the usual Jump & Run fare, thanks to the decent controls and a solid collision detection (unlike in "Chuck Rock", for that matter). Bonk can also use his head in order to spin around while jumping through the air, slowing down his fall in the process, and you can even perform a wall jump (like in Super Mario 64) with his head, enabling you to reach higher platforms, which you can also reach by simply...uh, well, biting your way up a wall. Another funny and innovative part about the controls is Bonk´s transformation ability, so to speak. By consuming meat, our vegetarian protagonist gets extremely mad, making him more powerful for a short while - and devouring yet another piece of flesh found in the various levels transforms him into a crazy, chicken-like creature for a couple of seconds, making him practically invincible as long as the effect lasts. A highly original idea by Hudson indeed, and I welcome this change from the invincibility stars of Mario or Sonic. The level design is pretty unique, too, offering more than just the stereotypical Jurassic jungles and swamps as you´ll find them in other games with a similar setting. One stage even takes you inside the body of a gigantic T-Rex in an obvious spoof on "The Fantastic Voyage", with you battling some bacteria inside his stomach, brain or even bloodstream and heart. Unfortunately, though, most of the stages are quite short, as is the game itself - experts should be able to beat the game within a single day. "Super Bonk" isn´t really challenging either, as none of the levels has any unfair or tricky passages, and not even the boss enemies are much of a threat. Nevertheless, there´s nothing wrong with the gameplay in "Super Bonk". It´s a refreshing Jump & Run experience involving a lot of interesting twists and ideas that especially beginners should be able to enjoy.
Graphically, "Super Bonk" ranks on a solid level of quality for a Super Nintendo game. The levels and especially the characters have been wonderfully designed and animated, pleasing the eyes with vibrant and pretty colors and a lot of small and sometimes hilarious details that underline the comic book look of the game. Sure, the visuals might not be as jaw-dropping, stunning and beautiful as in "Donkey Kong Country", but it´s still a good visual achievement that does the power of the SNES justice.
The music and sound of the game are, much like the rest of the game, pretty weird and sometimes crazy, having a cute Japanophile feel to them. The music might sound rather odd at first, but it´s ultimately pleasant to listen to and quite charming, adding a nice touch to the overall atmosphere of the game.
"Super Bonk" certainly isn´t as pretty or as awesome to play as "Super Mario World" or "Donkey Kong Country", and it also lacks the sheer scope and challenge of the Nintendo competition. That does not necessarily mean that "Super Bonk" isn´t a good game, though. It´s still a great Jump & Run that is a more than worthy choice for beginners and 2D Jump & Run fans looking for an innovative and likable experience.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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