Monday, February 16, 2009

Bonk's Adventure

Atlus/RED/Hudson Soft - 1990 - U.S.A.

The TurboGrafx mascot in his first-ever adventure. Bonk's Adventure is a great game in every respect, not to mention having been quite original back in the late '80s when it debuted in Japan.

The gameplay was really pretty innovative back in the day and offered many new twists on the "Mario" platformer standard. Bounce enemies on your head consecutively for bonus points. Use your teeth to scale otherwise impassible walls. Eat giant pieces of meat and go temporarily insane. One great thing about Adventure is that it knows how to have fun, even at its own expense. The characters you'll encounter, including Bonk himself, are virtually caricatures.

Adventure features fantastical cartoony graphics, and while they really set the mood for the game, they look pretty dated anymore, especially stacked up against later 16-bit contenders. The second game in the trilogy introduced a new graphical style (still cartoony) that holds up a little better than the look featured here. While Bonk's Adventure might have a dated visual aesthetic, it still looks miles better than primitive 8-bit junk.

Music, on the other hand, is top-notch and stands the test of time well. Even today the Bonk's Adventure soundtrack holds a place as one of the best works from the 16-bit era. This game is a prime example of why I prefer the Turbo's soundchip over that of the Genesis or SNES. The songs are just so warm and fluid, and the instrumentation lends itself perfectly to the gameplay. There's no way the Genesis's abrasive FM could accurately replicate Adventure's warm tones, and a SNES interpretation would undoubtedly prominently feature flutes.

Levels in Adventure are a bit more linear than those in the later journeys, but that's not necessarily a bad thing-- gives Adventure a flavor of it's own. Bonus rounds have always been a staple of the Bonk games. Adventure's bonus rounds are admittedly a little weaker and lesser in number than those found in later episodes, but fun nonetheless.

My two favorite bonus rounds in Adventure.

Bonk's Adventure also features one of my favorite video game bosses of all time-- T. Ractorhead the 3rd.

A very solid & consistent game, bested only by part 3 in the trilogy. That said, Adventure possesses a certain magical quality unparalleled by any of the four sequels and is more than deserving of a place on the gaming shelf of any self-respecting TurboGrafx-16 player.

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