Review by clarkisdark
Bonk! Thud, thud, thud...
While Nintendo had Mario and Sega had Sonic, Hudson had Bonk. What sets Bonk apart from the big boys is his gigantic head. As the name suggests, Bonk can destroy enemies and certain blocks by hitting them with his head. This can be done by standing underneath the object and jumping, standing next to the object and bashing your head forward, or diving down while in mid-air. Think of it like playing an upside-down Super Mario, since Bonk can't hurt things with his feet like Mario can.
Head-bonking isn't all that this guy can do. After a jump, you can hold down the turbo button to send Bonk spinning and floating through the air. Bonk can also use his head butt to wall jump up small crevasses. Frequent power-ups grant Bonk invincibility, fire breath, and the ability to turn enemies to stone by smashing the ground. It's quite surprising to see such a versatile move set for a game nearly 16-years old.
But getting into and getting good at this game isn't as immediate as you might think. The head dive requires a precision that can be difficult to find, especially when you're up against taller monsters. And you certainly have to adjust to the retro controls, because Bonk isn't as slick and responsive as what we're used to nowadays. Bonk is also a slow character--slow to walk and slow to recover--with no button to make him go faster. Considering this isn't 1991 anymore, these things are forgivable, but why settle for less when there are better 2D platformers on the Virtual Console? When you do finally get the hang of Bonk, though, it's an amusing and fun game. Head-bonking across a chasm of monsters or wall-jumping to a secret area are very satisfying elements.
Bonk's Revenge takes place in seven different areas. The first two are a piece of cake, but monsters and bosses turn hard very quickly. Don't expect to breeze through this one on three continues the first time through. For half the game, the challenge feels just right: easy enough to get to the end of the area on your first try but hard enough to make you replay for extra lives. Some of the later areas, however, are just unfair. Falling volcanic rock and monsters who spit heat-seeking bubbles is not a good mix. The bubbles alone will cause you a lot of grief; they never go away and are impossible to avoid. And it should be said that the last area is just a remix of all the old boss battles, a cheap and aggravating staple of older action games.
At face value, Bonk looks and sounds great. It's much prettier and cleaner than Bonk's Adventure, if anything. Bonk's Revenge drips of cuteness, from the funny animation of Bonk scaling a waterfall to the eggshell-wearing baddies who plague the flower fields. And while the music definitely sounds ancient, it works well and will have you humming the theme song hours after you've turned the system off.
Bonk's Revenge is worth checking out just to see what the TurboGrafx was doing concerning platformers. Bonk is very ambitious and does a lot of things you wouldn't expect from such an oldie. If Mario and Sonic are your forte, however, it'll be difficult to really get into this game. Bonk is slow, controlling him is a little stiff, and some of those prehistoric monsters are atrociously frustrating. Once you get good at it, it's pretty fun to cruise through a level and bounce across enemy heads on your own head. But getting to that point isn't so sweet.
+ Cute, charming, etc. etc.
+ Versatile move set
+ Pretty fun once you get good at it
-- Somewhat slow
-- Stiff controls
-- Monsters can be very unfair
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
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