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Bonkers

Genre: Platformer Developer: Sega Interactive Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1994

As I look back on the days when my brother still played the Genesis regularly, he used to love the Disney games. One of the games that I remember him playing a good amount of was Bonkers.

For those of you who do not know, Bonkers was an animated television show by Disney about a bobcat police officer working in Toontown to catch all kinds of zany crooks with his partner Lucky Piquel. Along the way he would meet different Disney-related characters such as the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and Ludwig von Drake. It originally was supposed to be a TV version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, but due to licensing issues, it turned into this. It was short-lived though, and ran from 1993 to 1995.

But enough about the TV show. You’re reading this because you want to know more about the game. In it you play as Bonkers through four very different levels of gameplay to catch criminals so you can become “employee of the month.” The storyline is paper-thin, but that’s not really a concern here. Each level is rather different in terms of gameplay, so this one is chock-full of variety, which is a good thing, because if this game wasn’t varied in gameplay, it wouldn’t be worth playing at all.

Let’s start off with the first level, for example, a target shooter-esque game where you have to throw donuts at Raccoon thieves trying to steal precious artifacts at the Toontown Museum. Each level starts off with a little prelude by Bonkers helper (whose name I do not know) that looks like a rat. The boss here is “Handbag Harry,” a purple handbag that occasionally runs through the levels as a sort of bonus target to give you extra hearts and lives until the last level. The raccoons hide behind pillars and sneak their way up to the pedestals bearing different Disney treasures (such as Cinderella’s glass slipper and Mickey’s Fantasia hat) and try to steal them and take off. Your job is to simply hit them with a donut to stop them dead in their tracks. Each raccoon only needs one doughnut to be taken down, and hit all raccoons to complete the level. The gameplay is very good, controls are responsive, and it’s fun… to a point. Seems good enough right? Well here is where the game goes horribly wrong.

Each part of the game goes on for ages, racking up over stages in the same old gameplay, only getting tougher and tougher, with new enemies and obstacles being added on. So basically you’re playing the same stage over and over again. I don’t know if this was put in by the developers to try to make the game longer, but it worked, even though it was a horrible idea. If each level of the game were maybe five levels long I wouldn’t mind, but when you’re racking up ten, eleven, twelve stages of the same, it gets boring. It’s pretty tough to really play through the whole game without getting bored. The other three levels are different in terms of gameplay, but designed in the same tedious way as the first one is. The levels are totally different from each other, but they go on, and on, and on.

The only breaks you get from these tedious levels are different side-scrolling “bonus stages” where you have to go from top-to-bottom or left to right jumping on different platforms made of the same pillars from the museum in the sky. The stages play similar to something out of Super Mario Bros. and are even blander than the main stages. Your rewards for completing these bonus stages are usually an extra life or some other sort of bonus.

Bonkers is rather easy, which contributes to its tedium factor. There isn’t much of a challenge to be found here, and you can see it was simply-designed with kids in mind. There is also a password system that’s only eight characters and instead of letters and numbers, uses items such as sticks of dynamite, pogo sticks, and soda cans.

The graphics in this game are bright and colorful, just what you would expect from a title based on a cartoon. The different enemies and items are detailed well, but there isn’t much variety in the levels, leaving the graphics to be something left desired most of the time when you’re looking for some change.

The sound is annoying, though, and again there is little variety. The background music of the levels loop over and over again and though they are well-suited for the levels, get annoying after a while, just like the gameplay. There are few sound effects, but they aren’t very annoying and emulate the sounds they are trying to produce well, but there are few sound effects.

In short, this game was designed for the kids and is little more than a licensing ploy. If you’re a fan of Bonkers, go ahead and try it, but the gameplay is very tedious and there’s very little to the gameplay, even if it is varied. This game could have been very good had they had made more levels and didn’t have the stages repeat over and over again. If it had actually cut down the amount of level stages and added maybe one or two more levels, Bonkers could have been a very decent game. But instead what we got was a cheap marketing ploy by Sega of America to promote its Sega Club.

SCORE: 5 out of 10

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