I have an enormous soft spot for Bonk because his game was synonymous with "the cool babysitter is coming over tonight and he's bringing his Nintendo". How could a kid resist?
My fondness for baldness has faded since that idyllic time (thanks, puberty) and I no longer need a babysitter to supply my Nintendo fix. However, that feeling of being young and unreasonably anxious about jumping puzzles we gamers call nostalgia never gets old when you see a classic game resurrected on the consoles of today.
What Is It? Bonk: Brink of Extinction is a brand new adventure for the classic prehistoric character on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and WiiWare. There are three worlds with 30 levels total and while the gameplay stays classic (side-scrolling action), everything is rendered in lush 3D.
What We Saw I played through area 5-1, a verdant jungle level fraught with peril and fruit pickups.
How Far Along Is It? Still in alpha. The title is due out in spring 2010.
What Needs Improvement? Ack! 2.5D! I've already expressed my distaste for games with fake 2D platforming glued onto 3D environments. However, I admit it's only really a problem when you either can't see something in a level or struggle with a jump that looks easy, but actually isn't because you're in the wrong plane of depth. Fortunately, Bonk didn't suffer from the former — just a little bit of the latter in areas where you had to turn around, find a ledge inside a tree and somehow jump up to it. At least there were no cliffs to fall off of...
What Should Stay The Same? Loving The Power-up Helmets: I only vaguely remember Bonk's "bonk" powers changing based on which types of meat he ate. I do not have any memory of a Fire Bonk that lets Bonk shoot fireballs or a triceratops skull that both looks neat and does more damage during the bonk attack. Lacking nostalgia or not, though, the different Bonk power-ups keep things interesting and look ridiculously cute.
Gorgeous Graphics: The 3D rendering might cause some clunky platforming, but man does it look pretty.
Yay! It's Bonk: Bonk rides mighty high on the nostalgia cloud, so high that not even new stuff is likely to bring him down. So if you're a fan of the classic game, I'm actually not sure why you're still reading this preview. You've already decided to buy it, right?
Final Thoughts I'm not sure whatever happened to the cool babysitter with the Nintendo. But, Daniel, if you're out there, don't worry! I totally grew out of throwing controllers in frustration.