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RetroReview: Bonk's Adventure (1990)

Bonk’s Adventure was NEC’s attempt of a mascot for their TurboGrafx-16 system and although it never captured the hearts of gamers like Mario and Sonic did, it was a very good game. The premise of the game is … wait for it … you have to rescue Princess Za from King Drool. Original yes I know but this is the golden age of gaming where games were more into action than story lines.

The game play, while appearing to borrow heavily from Mario, had a fresh, new feel for the time. You had the standard jump button along with a headbutt button. In Mario you would jump and land on your enemies to eliminate then but Bonk requires a tad more skill. Once you are in the air you hit the second button to flip over and do a head-first dive onto your enemy. You had to time it just right because if you missed your mark and hit the ground it stuns you for a second. Instead of Mario’s mushrooms and stars Bonk liked to eat meat (well he is a caveman).

Scattered across the levels were chunks of dinosaur meat (it still has the bone!) and depending on size and quantity Bonk would get a different power-up. A single small piece of meat increased your headbutt damage getting another small piece (or 1 large piece) makes you invincible. Another unique technique Bonk has is his ability to climb up obstacles with his teeth! There are also flowers scattered around that when jumped on act as a trampoline to allow Bonk to get to places he normally wouldn’t be able to reach.

The graphics are actually really colorful and well drawn. The waterfall areas are really nice looking and the levels are pretty varied. The animations are 8-Bit quality but at the top visually. The music is bouncy and upbeat and the sound effects are spot on.

I really enjoyed Bonk’s Adventure (and it’s sequels) and recommend it to fans of side scrolling adventures like Mario. Maybe someday we will see a new adventure of Bonk’s on a modern system. Cross your fingers!

- The Big Geek

Release Date: December 15th, 1990

Publisher: Hudson Soft

Developers: Hudson Soft

Original System: NEC TurboGrafx-16

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