Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bonkers - Where toons go to die

Platform: Genesis  Genre: Minigame Collection   Release: October 1st, 1994
Sometimes I like to go on Craigslist and see what used games are for sale. Whenever I do this, I'm consistently appalled by the choice in games that parents buy for their kids and then resell. Even with the buttloads of fantastic games available on every console, they still manage to pick out the worst and most obviously bad shovelware on the market. I find myself feeling grateful that I somehow ended up with good games when I was a kid; classics like Metroid, Super Mario Bros., Kirby's Adventure, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Even when I got games based on TV shows and movies, I seemed to luck out. I had Ducktales and Felix the Cat for NES and Mickey's Dangerous Chase on Game Boy, all great games. But after thinking back a little harder, I realized that I too had some pretty crappy games. One such crappy game was Bonkers for Sega Genesis.

Bonkers was based on the animated TV series which featured Bonkers as an anthropomorphic bobcat detective. I had to look that up, because he definitely doesn't look like a bobcat. Anyway, in the game, Bonkers is trying to catch four different villains while his partner is away on vacation in order to impress him and become Officer of the Month. What this means in the gameplay department is four minigames, one for each villain. The more you complete, the more your rank goes up.
When the four villains chosen to represent the show are
half rodents and half talking objects, it can't be a good sign.
Each game has slightly more depth than a Mario Party minigame and consists of a seemingly endless number of nearly identical versions of the same game. Each stage does get gradually harder, occasionally introducing slight variations and new elements to the game, but after a few minutes of any of them you'll probably start wishing for something to kill you so you can stop playing without needing to quit. It's nice that they get harder, but they still aren't much fun.

Ms. Frizzle probably stole the Magic
 Schoolbus from the Bonkers universe.
Ma Tow Truck's game has your racing down endlessly repeating streets and intersections and destroying her evil vehicular minions with oil and gum, which can be dropped behind you or shot ahead of you, respectively. Ammo is limited though, so if you run out, you'll have to wait for a refill from a helicopter. After you destroy all the bad guys, Ma Tow Truck will appear. Defeating her ends the stage, though she'll miraculously be back for the next stage. As you progress, some of the other cars will attack back and become immune to certain attacks. This only serves to make the game more annoying. Also, the controls suck.

Of course the bomb has eyes.
I expected nothing less.
Mr. Big's levels are inside this warehouse. You have to run around and smash boxes and barrels to try to find all the parts of a rabbit before the bomb explodes. You'll be able to tell which boxes have the parts you need because they'll jump occasionally. Sometimes enemies will appear, but you can smash them by sliding boxes at them. Basically, it's a memory game mixed with Pac Man.

All in all, it's just another
 brick in the wall.
The Rat's minigame is just about throwing bricks until they magically become a wall. The magic happens when you complete a full column of bricks, making it become permanent. Until then, bad guys can run across and remove the bricks. You'll also have to dodge whatever crap that junkyard robot is chucking at you. The stage ends when the wall is complete. I'm not really sure why building brick walls solves anything, but at least we're being constructive in a game for once.

Harry didn't chose the bag life.
The bag life chose him.
Harry the Handbag's level is probably the least fun of the bunch. In it, you have to run back and forth throwing donuts at thieves in order to protect the museum's treasures. That's really about all there is to it.

...Wait, is that seriously an apple with a bite out of it? Why do we even care if that gets stolen?!

Presumably the games end eventually, but I didn't stick around long enough to find out. For a game this boring, you aren't going to want to play for more than a few minutes at a time. Lucky for you, there's a password system in place for you to record your progress. Unlucky for you, the passwords consist of difficult-to-write-down pictures like parachuting dynamite, stop signs, living pogo sticks, soda cans, and other objects that would probably put you on the NSA's watch list if you were to discuss them publicly.

The final word:
I've played worse games, but Bonkers just isn't very fun. It's nice that the minigames do get gradually harder and more complicated, but by the time they do, you'll be too bored to care. I can only assume that Bonkers does eventually succeed in becoming Officer of the Month, but I don't think I'll be losing any sleep over not knowing for sure. Do yourself a favor and don't bother with this game.

This is part of a series on forgotten games from my childhood. Previous: Mickey's Dangerous Chase Next: Home Alone
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