In many ways, Bonk 3: Bonk's Big Adventure represents a step back for the series. The stage layouts offer a fair number of shortcuts and secrets, but they aren't as expansive or as open to exploration as the levels in Bonk's Revenge. Furthermore, the "run to the right and bash enemies" formula doesn't feel as lively in this third installment, mainly because the developers made the decision to trade quantity for size. For the most part, Bonk's foes are larger this time around, but they're also scattered sparsely throughout the levels.
Nevertheless, the game does have its share of entertaining moments. Watching Bonk bite into hillsides to climb upward is amusing. So is eating meat to unleash his fire breath, which sends enemies hopping away in flames. While the levels are smaller than those in previous Bonk games, you still need to backtrack, climb, and make use of Bonk's triangle-jump ability to get through them. Some levels also incorporate vacuum tunnels, zip lines, and waterfalls that you can hitch a ride on. And, of course, you'll have to dodge and bash a number of giant bosses.
The new twist to the Bonk formula is the ability to eat pieces of candy that cause Bonk to grow or shrink in size. Eat a blue piece and he'll get bigger. Eat a red piece and he'll shrink. Some levels run the gimmick into the ground, forcing you to switch between tiny Bonk and big Bonk far too often, but the effect is pretty sweet in the levels where it's used sparingly. Using a cramped tunnel to avoid half the enemies in a level is very nice.
Bonk 3 constantly toys with perceptions of size. Regular enemies often come in small and large variations, and some levels incorporate all three. The same is true of the backdrops, wherein you'll encounter gigantic beds and babies, or tiny renditions of ships and huts that were of normal size in a previous level. However, compared to Bonk's earlier adventures, the 2D backdrops in this third game aren't as detailed, and there are fewer enemies patrolling within each stage. The changes in perception are fun, but it's a shame the game's caveman-style artistry had to suffer because of them. The Flintstones-inspired backgrounds still get the job done, at least, and the circus-style music once again provides a suitably pleasant atmosphere.
Despite its shortcomings, Bonk 3 does offer the one feature that its predecessors sorely needed: a cooperative two-player mode. Just activate a second Wii Remote or plug a GameCube controller into the second port, and you and your friend can work through the game together, each controlling an individual caveperson. The game won't let you stray too far from one another, and you have to share the health meter, but the ability to dole out double damage and to punt your partner into shortcuts more than makes up for those limitations.
Overall, Bonk 3 doesn't have the staying power that the first two games in the series did, and it certainly won't convert you if you don't already enjoy the Bonk-flavored Kool-Aid. However, it is a decent 2D adventure and does serve up enough amusing moments that you probably won't feel you wasted 600 Wii points on it, especially if you can get someone to play cooperatively with you.