Bonk's Revenge Review

Bonk's Revenge is a unique, charming platformer that bests its predecessor in almost every way.

Now that Bonk's Revenge is available alongside Bonk's Adventure in the TurboGrafx-16 section of the Wii's Virtual Console shopping channel, people are bound to ask if Bonk's Revenge is better than its predecessor, especially those who spent 600 points ($6) on Bonk's Adventure and found it to be nothing special. In most regards, yes, it is. Once again, you have to guide the titular cavedude through a number of 2D platforming stages and use his thick forehead to bash whatever enemies and obstacles get in the way. However, this second game is much more extravagant than the first one was. Bonk has a couple of new abilities, enemies are more plentiful, the stages are larger and more inspired than those in the first game, and the graphics and audio better represent what the TurboGrafx-16 hardware is capable of.

Sometimes, it's easier to just let an enemy lift you up with a fishing line.
Sometimes, it's easier to just let an enemy lift you up with a fishing line.

Like its predecessor, Bonk's Revenge is a run-to-the-right 2D platformer that's not so much about jumping over bottomless pits as it is getting through the scads of enemies in each stage. Bonk's health bar still has three hearts, his main attack of choice is still the head-bash, and you can still make him spin through the air by pressing the attack button rapidly after a jump. Unlike in Bonk's Adventure, though, you can't just spin through entire stages in Bonk's Revenge. One reason for that is the stages are no longer linear and tend to involve backtracking, climbing, and the occasional swim. Some feature optional paths that diverge from the main route and rejoin it later. Another reason you can't just waltz through stages anymore is that enemies are more plentiful. They also do a much better job of making use of their axes and rocks than the enemies in the first game did. To balance things out, the developers made food items and extra lives easier to come by in this game, both as items you can grab within stages and as rewards for getting through the new bonus stages that are peppered liberally throughout each world. The meat power-up has been changed so that eating one piece lets you spit toxic breath and cause earthquakes that stun enemies, while eating two pieces transforms Bonk into an invincible monster with a forehead conspicuously shaped like a butt. Bonk's head-bash has also been modified, such that you can now use it to bounce between walls and climb upward, similar to how Samus' triangle-jump works in the Metroid games. In general, Bonk's Revenge is livelier, more involved, and somewhat more challenging than its predecessor.

In terms of overall length, Bonk's Revenge clocks in with seven worlds containing multiple stages and caps off each world with a boss fight. Unlike Bonk's Adventure, which had a couple of single-stage worlds, Bonk's Revenge contains at least three stages in each world. The boss fights involve the same strategy of dodging and bashing that the boss encounters in the first game did. The bosses in Bonk's Revenge are larger and more visually impressive than the bosses in Bonk's Adventure are. Instead of one dinosaur after another, you'll face off against a giant pirate with an extensible hook and a possessed ballerina who spins like a tornado, and you'll engage in a rematch against the pirate after he attaches his lower half to a space battleship that looks very similar to the Yamato from the Star Blazers cartoon. You should be able to work through the entire game in two or three hours. While that's not much more time than the span required to get through Bonk's Adventure, all of the alternate routes and crazy enemy encounters make Bonk's Revenge one of those games that you'll feel the urge to play through again.

Bosses are large...and goofy.
Bosses are large...and goofy.

Stylistically, Bonk's Revenge exudes the same sort of Flintstones-inspired charm as its predecessor. Bonk is a goofy little caveman, his enemies are a menagerie of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, and the backgrounds are comical renditions of the jungles and volcanoes that we typically imagine when we think of Earth a million years ago. Bonk's Adventure gets by on its charm alone. By contrast, Bonk's Revenge actually coaxes some decent graphics and audio out of the TG-16 hardware. The characters have more animations, the backgrounds are more detailed and have more layers, and there's a lot more going on. The volcanoes that erupt in the background are neat to watch, especially when they toss molten rocks into the foreground that you subsequently have to dodge. You may not be impressed by the sound effects, but they are at least whimsical. The music, on the other hand, is a collection of intricate compositions that will have you bopping your head from time to time, unlike the bland melodies that were the hallmark of the first game's soundtrack. The Virtual Console's emulation of the game is accurate to the original.

Bonk's Revenge is easy to recommend to anyone looking for a platformer that is consistently charming and does more than simply emulate the Mario or Sonic formulas. Furthermore, since Bonk's Revenge is snazzier and more involved than its predecessor, the 600 Wii points ($6) purchase price seems appropriate.

The Good
Cute visuals and constant head-bashing lend the game a unique style
Multiple paths and Bonk's new triangle-jump move let you go through levels a new way each time
Game is lengthier, more involved, and looks better than its predecessor
The Bad
You can finish the game in a couple hours
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Bonk's Revenge More Info

  • First Released 1991
    • Game Boy
    • TurboGrafx-16
    Average Rating180 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    AI, Mutech
    Published by:
    Hudson, Hudson Soft, Konami, NEC
    Platformer, Action, 2D
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors