Super Bonk (SNES) Review – Classic, but Crazy, Platforming Fun!

I wrote the first version of this review in November 2009.  I went through this review again and improved it, so this is a new revision of the original text.   Super Bonk is a pretty good game, and I had some things to clarify!  I do think now that Bonk’s Adventure might be my favorite Bonk game, but Super Bonk definitely deserves consideration as well.  It’s a fun classic platformer.

  • Title: Super Bonk [Super Genjin in Japan]
  • Released: 1994
  • Developer and Publisher: Hudson Soft, RED
  • Genre: Platformer (2D)
  • Review Written 11/2/2009; edited and enhanced 8/20/2014.

Super Bonk  was released in the US and Japan for the SNES in 1994. It is the fifth or sixth Bonk game, depending on how you count them. It was the first 4th-generation game in the series not released on Hudson’s TurboGrafx-16 console, but there had been a NES down-port of the original Bonk’s Adventure in 1993, which was shipped in small numbers and now is quite expensive, and one for the Game Boy, also called Bonk’s Adventure, but is mostly an original game.  So, the series had been on Nintendo before, just not the main titles.  As the PC Engine/TG16 was fading out though as the Super Nintendo’s massive success in Japan had overwhelmed their system, in 1994 Hudson decided to make its most popular series focused more on the SNES than the TG16 and Turbo CD.  Bonk, Bomberman, and Adventure Island all went over to the Super Nintendo that year.  Hudson also released many Turbo CD games in ’94, but their biggest mass-market franchises were more on SNES.  It’s sad, because it shows how the Turbo was fading, but it was the direction the market had gone, and this resulting game is pretty good.

However, Bonk never quite gained his footing on SNES like he had on the TG16, and there were only two more Bonk games after this one, the GB game Bonk’s Revenge (entirely different from the second TG16 game) released just months after Super Bonk, and one final, and sadly Japan-exclusive, Bonk game the next year, fall 1995’s PC Genjin 2, which would have been Super Bonk 2 had it gotten a US release.  But because in early or mid 1995 Hudson had closed its American division, the game, like most all Hudson games not titled “Bomberman” and released between 1995 and 2003, was not released outside of Japan.  It’s really too bad that Hudson did that, it led to us missing out on a lot of great games. Other companies brought some of their stuff over here and there, sure, but almost exclusively Bomberman games, and not even all of them.  Bomberman’s great, but it’s not all they made!  I wonder if the Bonk series would have died had they kept releasing them here… maybe, considering how uncommon this game is, but who knows. Oh well.  I got this game loose for $8 back in ’09; finding good deals on SNES games has gotten much less common since then.  I’d gotten, and played, the first Bonk’s Adventure (TG16) earlier this year after getting a Turbografx-16, so I had to get this game when I saw it.

It was a good choice.  Super Bonk is a very good game.  It is unfortunate that the game is somewhat rare and not on any console digital download services; anyone who liked the Bonk games on TG16, several of which are on the Wii’s Virtual Console, will love this as well.  The graphics are good, the music is great, the gameplay is great high-end 4th-gen platformer fun.  Bonk controls the same as he did on the TG16, for the most part.  You can walk and run around the stage, and collecting food will power you up.  You defeat enemies by bonking them on the ground, or jumping and then hitting bonk to flip over and hit them with your very hard head.  Eat enough food and you’ll ‘evolve’ to a more powerful form.  There are also smilie-face collectables, which determine if you get into the bonus area at the end of each level based on if you collected enough in the stage or not.  Bonus rooms also abound throughout the levels, sometimes obvious and sometimes well-hidden; search around!  There is plenty of stuff to find in the game, including those smilie face collectables and extra lives.  The game also has alternate routes through the stages, which means that the game won’t always be exactly the same, and a somewhat easy difficulty level that scales up nicely near the end.  It’s a fantastic game, highly recommended… though play the first Bonk’s Adventure first, if you can.  Super Bonk feels more open than Bonk’s Adventure, with more and longer minigames, multiple routes instead of one linear path, some more open level designs, and more.  The game looks good too.  Bonk’s Adventure makes good use of the SNES’s color palette, and the graphics hardware is used well.  This game isn’t one of the best-looking SNES platformers, and Donkey Kong Country, from later in 1994, made games like this look dated, but it’s a good-looking classic 2d platformer from when the genre was still king.  I particularly like the great art design and crazy level settings, it adds a lot to the game.  The only major negative in Super Bonk is the slowdown; there’s definitely slowdown here, as with many SNES games.  You won’t find that slowdown in the TG16 Bonk games!  Other than that though, it’s great stuff.  Some of the powerups you use during the game include small Bonk, huge Bonk, and giant dragon Bonk.  Bonk has quite a few forms in this game, more than in the previous games.  The game also adds a third button to the previous jump-and-bonk formula, which does attacks which vary depending on form, and more.  Super Bonk is a bit short though; I finished it fairly quickly and with only moderate effort.  The game took me maybe 3 hours I think, perhaps slightly more.  You can’t save though, so you do have to start over if you get a game over.

Super Bonk is an interesting game, and it is very strange in some ways, too. The games’ story is that Bonk was caught in a trap by King Drool and got sent forward in time to the modern day with a time machine, but things only stay “normal” for about the first stage.  The first stage is quite long and has multiple routes, shortcuts, and more, but is the most conventional level thematically in the game.  After that, though, things start to get very odd.  As he continues traveling through time and space, Bonk goes to space, to Jurassic Island, to a giant asteroid (an alien spaceship or something?), back through time somehow, and a few more adventures in between. Bonk gets swallowed by monsters again and travels through their stomachs, too, as he did in the original game. 🙂  The crazy, and constantly-changing, settings are one of my favorite things about Super Bonk.  The level designs are good, classic platforming levels as well.

Every stage section has a name, and the name is displayed on the screen when you enter the area.  The names are clever and are usually either a hint at what you should do in the area or a description of the area’s theme.  Pretty cool really, it’s a nice touch.  The names add to the atmosphere as the game gets weirder and goes to space.  It helps you identify each area well.  I think my favorite music in the game was in the Voice Room area in the comet. j  There’s some just awesome SNES composition there!  The level designs are always interesting, and the wide variety of bonus rounds keeps things varied.  At some points it almost seemed like there were too many bonus rounds though, and they take much longer each than they did in the first game… but overall they’re great.  Anyway, the game is great, but as I said it isn’t all that hard, and is only of moderate length too.  I’d gotten to the final stage in a couple of hours of play and without getting any Game Overs, and entered the middle of the stage with five or six lives left.  However, I messed up that level badly, not knowing that the dragon Bonk could turn invisible to avoid spikes I just walked through them and lost three lives that way.  Then I failed to get up the jump after that part before my super-mode ran out, and thus was stuck at the bottom, with absolutely no way of getting back up because you needed meat (to increase your powerup level) to get up, and there wasn’t any there anymore.  And the only way back was full of spikes and didn’t have any meat there either.  Stupid!  Yeah, bad design there, to say the least!  So I had to kill myself three times and start the entire stage over.  Twice, because I died at the boss’s first form the first time (you only get three lives when you continue, and while the bonus areas are plentiful, extra lives aren’t, in the final stage), it’s simple once you know what to do but I got hit several times before figuring that out… and I had just barely beaten the level.

On the note of continues, they are infinite, from the beginning of the stage, unlike the first two TG16 games which have limited continues.  There still isn’t a save system, but it will be easier to finish now thanks to the infinite continues.  There aren’t too many levels, but stages are large, so the game does have some replay value.  However, the final level, and final boss, in this game are no joke.  The original Bonk’s Adventure had powerups before the final boss, but in this game there aren’t any apart from some stuff sitting on spikes.  Hope you got there with enough powerups to beat all of the bosses at the end!  Honestly though overall that challenge was a refreshing change really, since most of the game was quite easy so some actual challenge in the later parts was nice.  It’s not as fun if you’re never challenged, and though Bonk games are supposed to be somewhat easy it’s good to have at least a bit of difficulty.  Also, when I did beat it it was pretty satisfying, and as I said I just barely did it.  So yeah, overall definitely Super Bonk is a good game well worth putting some effort into finding.  The game has decent graphics, great art design with the craziest settings in the Bonk series — or at least tied with Game Boy Bonk’s Revenge for the craziest settings, but that’s a story for another review, good music, good level designs, and very good traditional platforming gameplay.  About the only thing it doesn’t have is the two-player simultaneous mode that Bonk 3 did… and considering that even as it is it has some definite slowdown when too many things are moving on screen at once, I can see why they left it out. The main other concern would be the difficulty, length,and replay value.  There is no saving, so have several hours for this one, or leave your system on. It’s not too long though, it only took me maybe three hours to beat, and I beat it the day I got it.  As for replay value, the only replay value would just be in replaying a good game or trying to search the levels harder for all the secrets, alternate exits, bonus rounds, hidden 1-ups and smilies, trying to get a higher score, and things like that. If those don’t interest you the game won’t take long.  It tells you your score at the end, but not a completion percentage or something.  Still, going back to try to find more of the hidden stuff would probably be fun, and I’m sure I’ll play it again.  Overall it’s a great game, one of the better platformers on SNES, and definitely an under-appreciated title for sure. I think that the TG16 games get a lot more attention because a lot of people started there and played those first, but didn’t necessarily go from TG16 to SNES… and they like the originals better. Those well might be better, I’m not sure, they certainly are very good games.  Irregardless of that, though, this is a great game too, and I love how weird it gets.  Search it out.  I give it a solid B+ score.

Oh, this isn’t on Virtual Console, like most Hudson SNES games.  Too bad, more people should have the opportunity to play this game, and the West should get a shot at the sequel!  I have PC Genjin 2 (Super Bonk 2) for SNES now, and don’t like it quite as much as the first game because it’s very similar except without as crazy a selection of settings, but it is still a solid platformer, and it’s too bad it has never had a Western release.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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