Bonk's Adventure

I decided to go with the TurboGrafx-16 box art here, because it's really the console that completed the game.

Bonk's Adventure was first released for the TurboGrafx-16 in 1990 by Red Company and Atlus, and was later ported to things like the NES and even arcades. The concept of the game is simple, and similar to Mario games; you play as Bonk, a small, shiningly bald boy with an invincible forehead on a quest to rescue Princess Za from King Drool (yeah, this doesn't sound like a Mario game). Along the way, you fight enemies by body slamming them forehead-down or by bonking them from the side, and you can get carrots and hearts to refill health, as well as different sizes of meat, which can give Bonk...constipation, I guess...and make him take less damage.

I do believe that as classic games go, this would be the weirdest one I've ever played. The concept is weird, yeah, but also the enemies, and the settings. Early on, they have you swimming through a dinosaur's stomach, and then fighting a boss that turns out to be a normal lady dinosaur, who, after looking around the dinosaur's intestine, simply leaves. Right...

Anyway, as far as likes and dislikes of this game go, the biggest thing I dislike about the game is the music. I mean, these were reasonably actiony places, in prehistoric times. These tunes sounded like they were from Kirby's Dream Land 3, except somehow less well done.I just think that for the great graphics (ahem, sorry, Grafx...), they could have put more effort into music composition; it would have made the game itself more fun to play.

The simplicity of the gameplay itself makes it pretty darn difficult to have problems with it...I mean, it was all pretty straightforward. You press one button to bonk or spin in the air, and the other to jump. Simple, right?

Sort of. If you play it online in the same way I did (what, I wouldn't get this for the Virtual Console right away. Would you? Come on!), the controls could get pretty sticky because you use keys as buttons. The fact that buttons stand out more on actual controllers may make the game easier, it's true, but considering the kinds of hardwired problems with playing games that were important back then, I can imagine that the button mashing you have to do to flip around through the air is kind of unavoidable.

Plus, I would sometimes have problems attacking with Bonk. Now don't get me wrong, I like simple controls a lot. The issue is that the game is designed around this particular moveset of jumping, slamming, flipping around, and so on, and so forth to the point where you can't play the game unless you go about the awkward task of using two buttons in the ways they want you to, and that can get frustrating if you're not built for that kind of unconventional game.

But don't get me wrong, I do understand why this is so popular on the Virtual Console these days. There are a lot of likeable and just plain great aspects about this game. For example, even though controlling Bonk could sometimes feel like a chore, I love the fact that he can turn into a powerhouse by eating meat and can use his fierce teeth to climb walls! That added a new dimension to platformers in much the same way Kirby did, and I like that kind of boldness; it can lead to great gaming.

Plus, the graphics on this game are just as stunning as in Kirby. I can see why they call it the TurboGrafx, this game (which is really the poster child for the entire console) are spectacular! Excellent character design, reasonably well-coordinated movements. If all games of this period had such graphics, it would have been a great influence on the future titles.

So, the final verdict on this game. The music is not very good, and the air of the game is really strange (plus, the music doesn't fit the setting). Still, the graphics and gameplay features make up for those to a certain extent, but the question is how much? You should play Bonk's Adventure online first with a good connection and decide for yourself. If you have an easy time with the controls and just the playing as a whole, go ahead and get it for the VC! If you decide it's not your type of game, though, don't feel bad about it. This isn't much of a staple of video game history, not to the point where you're obliged to get it.