If you've ever owned a TurboGrafx-16 or PC Engine, chances are you're quite familiar with our little caveman friend Bonk. Once these systems began to lose ground to Nintendo's Super Nintendo and Sega's Mega Drive (a.k.a. Genesis), Hudson decided to bring their prehistoric hero to some of the more popular platforms of the time, including Game Boy and Super Nintendo. After keeping things fairly traditional in the first Super Bonk, which recently saw release on the UK/European Virtual Console, Hudson decided to toss in some new gameplay twists for Super Bonk 2 to liven things up a bit with this Japan-only follow-up.
The core gameplay remains very similar to previous Bonk titles. Bonk still moves around at a slightly sluggish pace, and he still uses his noggin to bonk enemies that get in his way, but there are a few new gameplay wrinkles in this sequel that fans of the series should find quite entertaining.
In Super Bonk 2, he can also pick up power-up items that will transform him and enable him to use special abilities needed to complete the game's various levels. These range from Frog Goggles that allow Bonk's tongue to stretch out and stick to objects and platforms to a Drill Hat that allows Bonk to tunnel through rocks. Each of these special power-ups also features its own mini-game that revolves around its specific ability.
If Bonk can locate one of the special flowers growing in the level, he can spin a wheel and play the corresponding mini-game on which its pointer stops. Bonk will play through a couple of levels and then face off with the boss of that area. The bosses are among the best ever seen in any of the Bonk releases and taking them on proves to be a lot of fun, not to mention challenging.
The controls in this game are extremely well-executed. It will take those not familiar with the Bonk series a little time to adjust to the somewhat looser feel, but once you get a handle on it, the game is really a joy to play. The special abilities that Bonk can locate in each level really add a whole new level of depth to the game and give the gameplay a huge amount of variety. It's safe to say that Super Bonk 2 is easily the most deeply playable Bonk title of them all, and it's also probably the most enjoyable as well.
The visuals are quite impressive in Super Bonk 2. They blow those found in all previous Bonk titles away, not only in terms of detail but also of animation and scrolling. The game features multiple layers of parallax scrolling, and this adds a lot of depth to the scenery in each level. The enemies look great, but it's the bosses that really shine. They're not only mammoth in size, but their outlandish looks and devious attack patterns really make them stand out. It goes without saying that long-time fans of the series are in for a real treat with this title's fantastic visual presentation.
Each level has its own unique musical track that generally closely mimics the theme of the stage. Some songs are better than others, but overall it's a fairly catchy musical effort. The sound effects, however, are a bit of a different story. While some are really solid, others are absolutely annoying. Whenever Bonk is walking around, his footsteps make a very obnoxious sound, and since you'll spent an inordinate amount of time doing this you'll be hearing a lot of it. Of course, the good news is that after you've played for a decent amount of time, you'll eventually tune it out and you won't find yourself noticing it as much.
If you're a fan of Bonk, Super Bonk 2 is an absolute must-own and well worth the trouble of importing it from Japan. It's definitely the best Bonk title of the entire series and easily approaches some of the best platformers the Super Nintendo console has to offer. The odd feel of the controls will take a bit of getting used to, but if you're willing to put in the time to give this game a chance, you're likely to find a game that you'll keep coming back to time and time again. Let's just hope it shows up on the Virtual Console as an import release or in a future Hanabi festival so gamers outside of Japan can finally get a chance to experience it for themselves. Until then, you can satisfy yourself with its predecessor, which came to Virtual Console already and of which we were also quite fond.