Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bonk's Revenge

Hudson Soft / Red

Bonk's Revenge is highly reminiscent of its excellent predecessor in many surface-level regards, but being that the formerly smooth play system suddenly finds itself plagued by clunkiness, I've never been a big fan of the title. Still, whenever I power it up, I'm immediately struck by how appealing its cartoony graphics are. Bonk's Adventure is nice looking and colorful, but Revenge reaches an entirely different tier with its visuals. The difference in graphical quality is vast despite many of the games' respective stage themes and cast members being quite similar to one another.

Strip design also took a huge step forward. There are secrets to uncover all over the place along with great ideas at work in enemy placement and level structuring.

You can scour the stages to find entryways to bonus rounds, most of which are enjoyable, and as my brother Duomitri can tell you, it's lots of fun to see how many of the scattered-about smiley faces you can collect. The train-ride-based bonus scenes that the stages conclude with are also very cool.

The soundtrack is as good as you'd expect it to be, being that many of its tunes were borrowed from Adventure (although most of its original material is also quality stuff).

My only major complaint is that a brief delay takes place during each spin of Bonk's spin jump, which makes for choppy gameplay. There are two typical counters to this gripe:

1) The delay adds to the challenge.

Well, I always beat the game with lots of lives left no matter how terribly out of practice I am. It isn't challenging even with the delay.

2) The delay prevents people from leaping into the air and cannonballing their way through stages, as was possible in many levels of the first Bonk game.

Well, the level design is strong enough here to minimize that sort of tomfoolery anyway, and there's so much more incentive to explore this time.

It could be said that the boss battles are a little more interesting in Revenge because you can't just bounce around atop your adversaries' heads like you can in Adventure. This is a fairly minor point since the game's strengths lie in level design and aesthetic appeal rather than in strategic battling, so I still wish I could have the old spin back.

Speaking of the bosses, another (relatively minor) complaint I have is that the last battle is quite anticlimactic. Some of the earlier encounters are interesting, if not particularly difficult to emerge victorious from...

...but the last couple of bosses are bums.

I do enjoy Revenge more now than I did in years past, even though the spin delay still irks me. I guess I'm more patient these days, so I appreciate things like the level design and smiley scavenger hunts a lot more. I still find Adventure to be much more enjoyable, though.

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