[Super Bonk logo]


[China Town!]


System: Super NES
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Designer: Red Entertainment
Release Date: November 1994
Genre: Who Knows? (I'm going with Action/Platformer/Shooter)
Players: 1
Save Feature? No

Super Bonk is, without a doubt, one of the weirdest, strangest, and wackiest games that this gamer has ever come across! Even reviewing this game is like trying to make sense of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Super Bonk is truly all over the place with its unpredictable gameplay, quirky powerups, and crazy bonus games! And while Super Bonk is certainly no top-notch, world class game by any stretch, it is at least zany enough to keep things interesting for an hour or two.

Overview: 1994 was truly a banner year for the Super Nintendo console. Many games that had their coming out party in 1994 are still renowned as all-time classics (Mega Man X, Super Metroid, Final Fantasy III/VI, and Donkey Kong Country come to mind) and they certainly proved that the 16-bit wonder still had plenty of fight left. As is always the case in the world of gaming, however, there were also plenty of games that fell through the cracks...games that for one reason or another never quite caught on with mainstream gamers.

And that, my friends, brings us to Super Bonk. My oh my...heaven help me...Super freaking Bonk. This game is, simply put, proof that drugs should never be used while a game is still in its development stages. I have had the honor of playing 500+ games in my lifetime and Super Bonk is easily one of the strangest ones I have ever come across. If you feel like playing something off the beaten path (and I mean way off the beaten path!), then I can't recommend this game enough.

Seriously though, from a bare-bones standpoint, Super Bonk actually plays a lot like Bonk's Adventure for the NES (or any Bonk game really). You jump, bash your head against enemies, flowers, walls, and pretty much everything in sight, and encounter a plethora of wacky bonus games along the way. And as far as your surroundings/locales are concerned, you never really know what's coming next! Super Bonk takes place in China Town, the belly of a dinosaur, outer space, and pretty much anywhere else imaginable. While all Bonk games admittedly have their quirks and nuances, Super Bonk just seems to take "weird" to a whole new level.

In any case, one area where Super Bonk truly has a redeeming quality has to be in the humor department. Honestly, how can anyone play through this game with a straight face and refrain from chuckling or downright laughing hysterically at times? I mean, when Bonk eats a chunk of meat, he will transform into anything ranging from a teeny-tiny caveman to a huge, Godzilla-like beast with the strangest facial expression ever! I wouldn't be surprised if kids had nightmares (or at least "weirdmares") after playing this game for a while. I can see it now..."Mommy!! The Bonk Dragon's after me! Heeeeeeeeeeelp!!"

In addition to Bonk's appearance weirding me out, Super Bonk also features a unique assortment of bonus stages. Now granted, a few of them are actually quite normal and might involve you bouncing on clouds to collect items (reminiscent of Hudson's Adventure Island series), but a couple of them are downright zany! One has you inflating a goofy-looking balloon and literally blowing it up for bonus points while another has you playing a shoot 'em up of sorts as a crab (yes...a crab) as you attempt to shoot coins and collect bonus items. At the very least, Super Bonk is not an unoriginal, stale gaming experience.

[Well...SOMEONE has a big head!]
[You've gotta love video game physics]

Graphics: Like Bonk's Adventure for the NES, there is definitely an emphasis on bold, vibrant, colorful graphics in Super Bonk. The diversity of the stages and even some of the background visuals are actually quite impressive. I also felt that some of the parallax-scrolling along with the way Bonk could move behind objects were a nice touch as well.

That's not to say that anything about Super Bonk truly pushed the limits of the Super NES, however. While I personally have no real qualms with this game visually, it would have scored a bit higher had it been released earlier in the Super Nintendo's life. You have to remember that Final Fantasy III and Donkey Kong Country were hitting store shelves around the same time as Super Bonk so that lowers the score a bit. Still though, there is a certain charm about the graphics in Super Bonk. A weird, silly, zany charm but a charm nonetheless.

Music: As you can probably guess, the music in Super Bonk matches the game's visuals in that it too is all over the place! With its wacky stages and random disposition, did you honestly think that a quiet, predictable musical score was going to grace this game? Although there are several tracks that play throughout multiple stages (such as the Stage 1 theme), I felt that there was just enough variety to keep the game's soundtrack from becoming grating and annoying. Granted, the bonus stage music can become a bit irritating after a while (simply because you are playing bonus games a lot) and the boss theme is as average as it gets, but a few of the tunes in Super Bonk were surprisingly good! One track in particular plays late in the game and just gives you a sense that you are near the end of this insanely weird journey. The main stage theme isn't too shabby either and the cave/underground tune is fitting with its mysterious atmosphere. This is not a soundtrack that you will want to listen to on car trips, but it isn't too bad within the context of the game.

Play Control: It's pretty safe to say that, if you have played any other games in the Bonk series, you will feel right at home with the control scheme in Super Bonk. The only other Bonk game I have played extensively is the aforementioned Bonk's Adventure and I picked up the Super Bonk control mechanics very quickly. If you can simply jump and bash your head against anything and everything in this game, you will be all set! Bonk can also chomp his way up walls like in previous incarnations and can do his best Ryu Hayabusa imitation by wall-jumping when any given wall proves to be too thick for his chompers. There is even a wacky "Rage" feature where Bonk can literally shoot out the word "Rage!" and jump on his words as if they were a platform! I couldn't help but think of my brother Nate as I played through this area (he likes to yell "RAGE!" randomly).

Now to be fair, the controls in Super Bonk lack the polish of better side-scrollers/platformers out there (e.g. Donkey Kong Country) and do feel quite stiff at times. Spinning in mid-air and clocking enemies feels very good but some of the more basic controls like simply jumping just doesn't feel very crisp in my opinion.

Challenge: Super Bonk certainly has its fair share of foes and obstacles but, like Bonk's Adventure, it has a relatively tame difficulty level. Arrows built into the walls/caves are constantly showing you where to go and power-ups/hearts are very plentiful in this game. Also, you will literally find yourself tripping over bonus stages in Super Bonk. Seriously, I can't recall the last time I played a game where you spent seemingly half the game playing bonus stages! I am not complaining either. It is just somewhat odd.

The only aspect of Super Bonk that I found somewhat challenging was figuring out the weakness of each of the game's main bosses. While jumping in the air and flipping upside-down in order to bash an enemy's brains in works at times, a few of the boss battles actually require you to use your noggin in other ways. A few of the later bosses can pose quite a threat until you figure out their weaknesses. And that "Final Trap" room...my gosh, how I despised that room with its spikes and two-hit kills.

Storyline: Story? What story?! I am assuming that Bonk was heavily drugged up by King Drool sometime before China Town because playing this game is like watching "The Hangover." You play all the way through to the end and then try to piece together what you just did. As far as I can tell, you pretty much just decide to visit the far reaches of the Earth in order to kick baddies' butts with the end objective of putting King Drool in his place (which is this case, is a steel cage in a random zoo). That's what I gathered anyway...


[Blow it up! Blow it up! Blow it up!]


Funfactor: While there is honestly nothing really all that special about Super Bonk (although it blows away most games in "weirdness"), it is still a relatively enjoyable gameplay experience. I had fun playing this game chiefly because of its random disposition and that aura of not really knowing what to expect next. Super Bonk never really takes itself seriously and that is okay. If you enjoy retro platformers and want something with a distinct "wacky" vibe, Super Bonk won't disappoint.

Negatives: Other than Super Bonk not having any real strengths to hang its hat on, I honestly have nothing bad to say about this game. I did get a bit tired of the game's bonus stages by the time I reached the third or fourth stage but I suppose that is a good problem to have. There is not much of a story to speak of but Super Bonk's goofy nature makes this issue a rather minor one.

[Words fail me...]

Ratings: Graphics: 3.6 Music: 3.7 Play Control: 3.7 Challenge: 3.5 Storyline: 3.4 Funfactor: 3.7 Overall Score: 21.6 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Unsung Hero

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Last Updated: February 22, 2013
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