Bonanza Bros. harkens back to the early 80's arcade titles with their simple, yet addictive play control ideas. While there are obvious Keystone Kapers and Elevator Action influences throughout the game, the overall gameplay design is at least original enough to stand on its own two feet. The only problem is that the premise is so simple in design and sometimes so awkwardly executed, that it ends up bringing the entire experience down with it. So how does this game hold up on the Virtual Console service all these years later?
The goal in each level is to locate the indicated target items in each level and then make it to the exit where your blimp awaits you for a quick getaway. Along the way, you'll have to basically steal these items from various buildings ranging from mansions to pyramids and everything in between. Each feature their own intricate layouts that you'll have to traverse, not to mention a wealth of hazards to deal with.
The gameplay design in Bonanza Bros. is quite simple. You can run around in all directions and you even have the ability to jump and shoot off your gun. But you'll have to move fast as your gun will only temporarily stun the guards and then they'll be back on your tail again. You'll also have to deal with crazy waiters, soda cans you'll trip on, and various other dangers around each and every corner of the game. Luckily you'll also have the ability to use certain items and doors in each level to knock out the guards and other people that stand in your way. While these obstacles start off quite easy to deal with, as you progress through the game, they'll become much more diligent and bothersome.
The game allows for one or two players in a split screen format. Even when you play the single player game, you'll still only use the very bottom portion of the screen, as the middle of the screen is where your map and game information is located. You'll run around each area, gathering up the indicated items, and then head for the exit where you can escape. If it sounds overly simple, that's because it pretty much is. And while the gameplay itself is quite basic, it can sometimes be a little clunky in feel and can make trying to avoid the dangers strung throughout the game a bit frustrating at times. So unless you're just a big fan of this type of early 80's arcade game, you might want to take this into consideration before investing in this title.
The visuals in the game are very basic, even by 16-bit standards, so don't expect a lot of eye candy in this one. Having only one small section of the screen can also make things a bit restrictive at times, so this further adds to the lack of detail in the various surroundings. It's clear that the developers were trying to keep with the classic 80's visual stylings and while successful, it ultimately makes for a rather bland visual experience.
The same can pretty much be said of the audio presentation of the game as well. The music is very reminiscent of the early 80's arcade material and isn't the least bit catchy. Even the sound effects seem to get lost in all the musical chaos at times and do nothing to add to the overall audio experience. Once again, unless you're just a big fan of this style of audio presentation, you'll likely find yourself disappointed with the offering in the game.
While there will inevitably be gamers that will enjoy this type of gaming experience, it just doesn't come across as the type of offering that will appeal to the majority of gamers. The overall gameplay experience is a bit too dumbed-down to offer any type of long-term playability and the lackadaisical audio-visual presentation just further adds to the overall bland feeling the game gives off. In the end, there are much better games available on the Virtual Console service than this very dated 80's arcade romp.