perjantai 20. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Bonkers (1994)

GENRE(S): Platform
RELEASED: October 1994

The whole new Disney character of Bonkers D. Bobcat was born in the early 90's, after Disney's failed attempt to bring back Roger Rabbit as the star of his syndicated Disney Afternoon cartoon. The show was about a bobcat with a serious case of attention deficit, whose cartoon career had waned and he decided to start a new one as a cop, partnered with a no-nonsense human detective. The show's humour was so surreal and full of diversity, that of course Disney decided to produce a video game based on it and called Capcom back on the job. The game didn't sell too well, but it's a decent platformer. There's not much more anyone can expect out of such a quick and low-profile license.

At the very least Bonkers kicks Bubsy's ass

Three of the most valuable artifacts in the world of cartoons - the Sorcerer's Hat from Fantasia, the Mermaid's Voice from The Little Mermaid and the Magic Lamp from Aladdin - are stolen. After his partner Lucky Piquel gets in an "accident" caused by Bonkers' panic attack upon hearing the news, the crazy but determined bobcat seeks to solve the case alone.

He jumps like a cat.
Bonkers was chronologically the last syndicated cartoon I ever watched, and the last of the good ones. The quality of these shows had been waning, and by the end of the 90's, all sense of quality was all but gone from them. I never knew there was a Bonkers video game, not before emulators became a fad. I sure as hell didn't believe Capcom made it before I saw it, because no Capcom or Konami game went past me, were they released in Europe or not (Bonkers was not). I could've left Konami unmentioned, but the first game that came to my mind when I played Bonkers for the first time was their successful SNES iteration of Tiny Toon Adventures. A poor man's version of that fine title is the one thought that sticks with me throughout the whole game. The HUD is similar, some of the levels are very similar, Bonkers' eccentric cartoon behaviour is similar to the behaviour of the characters in that game. Bonkers is just way more of a generic platformer to the core than Buster Busts Loose!.

Of course, another game that immediately comes to mind is, once again, Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, for obvious reasons. But, as generic as Bonkers might be, it's a quite decent game. Whereas Buster Busts Loose! is one of the best and most exciting cartoon platformers on the SNES and Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind is a small piece of purgatory sent to us as a "sign of good will" by Satan himself, Bonkers lands in the absolute middle. It's not great, it's definitely not unique, it has some exceptionally sloppy boss fights, it fails to draw a clear line between what you can and cannot touch, but in the end, it's a fun, quite harmless platformer. And, at least Bonkers doesn't yell irrelevancies all the time like his evil twin brother from the Bubsy franchise.

Clint would know what to do.
The graphics are only so-so considering Capcom's recent efforts on the Disney front. The backgrounds are quite nice and the animation's swell, but I don't know, it could use some edge from an overall perspective; it looks somewhat cheap, and moreover, ordinary. The music is highly repetitive and there really is not much more to say about it. I at least attempted to close my ears from it after a certain limit had been crossed. Well, at least each level has its own theme.

There's a level of introduction, after which you'll gain a map of the stolen treasures, and the player is given a choice of three levels. This choice is quite artificial, 'cause there's a recommended, yet invisible order to complete those three levels, all according to the boss fights. After you've beaten the introduction and all three levels, you'll automatically enter one final stage just like in DuckTales and Darkwing Duck. All the levels thus far have been quite easy, but the final one is pure hell. Not because of the enemies, but rather sudden deaths relating to some very clumsy advanced controls.

Bonkers may either jump on enemies or throw bombs at 'em, as long as he has some left. Here's the first problem. You _need_ bombs in one of the boss fights. If you're out of 'em, or run out of 'em halfway through the fight, which is also perfectly possible, there's no choice but to commit suicide and try again for better luck. I guess it really was impossible to give us a usual bomb power-up instead, if we happened to run out of bombs. You see, the boss is invisible - you need to throw those bombs just to figure out where he is! Well, it's not as bad as when his own bombs also become invisible... you won't see them before taking damage from them. Fair, I know. Well, then there's the dash ability, ripped straight off Buster. You can execute a roll attack while dashing sometimes when all else fails, but you must also press horizontal switches by dashing and jumping in the air. Another boss fight is based on this; it's completely random whether Bonkers presses the switch or not, and there's a pit right under it. Well, this boss fight won't take you too long, but in the final level, there are many switches to open gates, right over huge gaps. Now those ones are pure shit, and just attempting to press them and get through the corresponding gates in time results in enough sudden deaths to make one lose his mind before it's all said and done.

I take it you don't fancy a friendly game of
It's all said and done rather quickly. All of the levels have two stages each, so that makes up a total of ten stages, and the tempo's rather fast throughout the line, assuming you're not willing to go out of your way each and every time you see a slight glimpse of Bonkers' buddy, the Fall Apart Rabbit, who always remains in hiding and has some killer power-up to serve you, like a full heart of permanent health increase or a 1-Up. To my knowledge, this game has unlimited continues - I survived by using just one, and there really isn't any sign that the continues would stop flowing at some point. It's an easy game, it's just the luck-based boss fights and the final stage that offer up any sort of challenge.

Bonkers is all about quick, harmless, modest entertainment. It's not meant to be a really deep and innovative platformer, it's just a simple, generic carbon copy of a whole bundle of platformers. That's not always a completely bad thing. It might lack a lot of things, such as monetary value for consumers, but in the end, the developers meant us no harm.

SOUND : 6.0


a.k.a. Disney's Bonkers

GameRankings: 67.50%

Sega made a whole different game that went by the same title for the Sega Genesis. However, this game was also published by Capcom in the United States. The game Bonkers: Wax Up! on the Sega Master System and Game Gear is also sometimes referred to as just Bonkers, but it's yet another whole different game.

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