Bonk’s Adventure (TurboGrafx-16)

June 12, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Bonk - Title ScreenBonk - Level 1-2Bonk - Smash

I find it interesting to think about the 16-bit era and look at how the success of each console’s mascot parallels the success of the hardware itself.  Mario and Sonic were bitter rivals, but ultimately, I’d say Mario proved to be the stronger mascot.  Likewise, the SNES and Genesis were bitter rivals, with the SNES winning out in the end.

And then there are Bonk and the TurboGrafx-16.  Poor little Bonk.  Poor little TurboGrafx-16.  Though he’s appeared in many games on several different platforms, Bonk’s spiritual home is the TurboGrafx-16.  Unfortunately, he just didn’t have the star power to carry the system.  In the bitter playground wars of Mario vs. Sonic, Bonk was the oft-forgotten third player.  And, likewise, the TurboGrafx-16 was largely overlooked.

Was it poor marketing by Hudson and NEC?  Was Bonk just not an appealing enough character?  Or were his games just not good enough?  Poor marketing could be a solid argument, but I don’t think that tells the full story.  And Bonk, with his big head and goofy smile, is certainly appealing enough to sell games, so that theory is out, too.  That just leaves the games.

If you’re a TurboGrafx fan, you’re probably about to bite my head off, but here it is…  Bonk’s Adventure just isn’t that great of a game.  I want to love this game, (honest, I really do!) but I just can’t.  I love the TurboGrafx-16, I love Bonk as a character, I love the bright, appealing graphics, but I really wish this game was a lot better than it is.

I think it ultimately comes down to monotony, which rears its head in three places: Controls, level design, and music.  Frustratingly, Bonk can only go one speed — a sort of determined walk.  But damnit, I want to run!  I want to run straight through the monotonous level design, where there are long stretches with no platforms, no obstacles, and no elevation changes!  I want to run right through all the boring parts!  For a platform game, there’s not nearly enough platforming going on.  Add on the extremely repetitive (though occasionally catchy) soundtrack, and you have a game that just doesn’t live up to its potential.

And that’s really what it comes down to — potential.  I don’t hate this game; there are a few fantastic levels mixed into the bland ones and I absolutely love the general atmosphere and graphical style.  I just think it could have been so much more than it is.  Kinda like the TurboGrafx-16 itself.

Final Thoughts: Bonk’s Adventure is remembered fondly by TurboGrafx-16 fans, but it just doesn’t stand out anymore.  It’s worth a play-through, but if you’re talking about spending money on it, look to its much-improved sequel, Bonk’s Revenge.

Bonk - VolcanoBonk - Inside the DinosaurBonk - First Boss

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About Tim
My name is Tim. I live in Madison, WI. I'm a retro gamer.

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