Old School Vs. New School

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Modern Gaming Review - Bonk's Adventure (GCN)

I had been wanting to get Bonk's Adventure on the GCN for quite some time, having never played the original TG-16 version. Of course, I did just recently play the TG-16 classic, but that just wheted my appitite to play Bonk on a next-gen system. Of course, the title is Japan-only, so importing was the only option. Only problem was, no one had any in stock. So after being out of stock of the title for WEEKS, Play Asia finally got a batch in, which I promptly ordered a copy of.
A week later, it arrived. I tore it out of the package, carefully opened the box, slapped the Freeloader into my Cube and prepared to Bonk.

I was not disappointed.

The first thing I noticed (aside from the improved cel-shaded graphics and clearer sound) was that it wasn't so much an enhanced port but rather a remake of the Bonk classic. The levels themselves are smaller and more consise, but that doesn't make the game a cakewalk. Rather, Hudson took the original Bonk game and condensed it into a more pure, more enjoyable gameplay experience. Levels are no longer long trudges across sparse terrain, but now a more exciting romp through more enemy populated lands, offering many opportunities to jump and bonk and spin to the point you could get through some levels without ever touching the ground.

However, if you thought that shortening the levels made the game easier, Hudson was ready to slam you back down to earth. Whereas in the original, contact with an enemy shaved off maybe a fourth of a heart in your life meter, in the remake, every hit knocks off a FULL HEART. There are plenty of extra lives scattered to help make up for this, and you can collect all eight hidden fruit in a level to gain another 1up. Of course, once you realize that the only way to restore your energy is to collect said fruit, you'll realize it's just another way for the game to slam you back to earth.
Just like the TG-16 game, you must play through the entire game in one sitting. However, once you do, you'll unlock a level select to play a certain level as much as you want. There are also three different difficulty levels to play with, each unlocked as you beat the previous difficulty. Hudson has also hidden gold coins in the levels, ten on each difficulty level, which you can use to unlock classic Bonk TV commercials. Of course, they are well hidden, so good luck finding them all.

If you're looking for a good, old fashioned 2-D platformer on a next gen system, Bonk's Adventure will rock your world (at least until you get your palms on Donkey Kong Jungle Beat). The Gamecube version of Bonk is somewhat hard to find (and expensive) but a PS2 version is also available, and both are exactly the same.

Bottom Line
Graphics (8) - Not gonna push the Cube's processor, that's for sure, but the cute cel-shaded Bonk and enemies are just awesome. The backgrounds are very nice, with a "Yoshi's Island" crayon style. Word cues like "BONK!" and "TMP" appear as Bonk smacks enemies and trots along the ground.

Sound (7) - Not exactly memorable, but it gets the job done. A lot of tracks repeat though, but to be honest, it's probably a limitation left over from the TG-16 days. Bonk's voice is cute, and thankfully isn't overused.

Controls (8) - Playing with a Hori Digital Pad bumps the score up to a 9. Weird hic-cups such as difficulty leaping from wall to wall late in the game kinda drag things down, but by no means a game killer.

Gameplay (9) - Jump. Bonk. Repeat. Basic gameplay, but oh so sweet. The game is short compared to the massive quests of 21st century games, but it's so much fun, you'll keep coming back for more.

Overall (9) - The "To Be Continued" screen still exists in the remake. Let's hope a similar update of Bonk's Revenge is well on it's way.