Disney in the 90s seemed to be going great guns, didn’t it? I mean, after the majesty of films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and the Lion King, suddenly things seemed to be springing back into life for them after a sort of… unusual period. We’re talking that gap between the Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some of the films in between were magnificent but the renaissance really just happened after The Little Mermaid really.
Black Cauldron, anyone?
But less bashing of Disney and more… er…
Oh wait. You know what this is going to be like… MORE BASHING OF DISNEY-RELATED THINGS!
So the mid-90s brought on a resurgence of Disney and the TV cartoon. Well, to be fair, it started back in the mid-80s with the Wuzzles. OH MY FUCKING GOD, THE WUZZLES. DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE WUZZLES. LOOK AT THEM! LOOK AT HOW INCREDIBLE THEY ARE!
IT’S AN ELEPHANT CROSSED WITH A KANGAROO! A MOOSE AND A SEAL! LION AND A BEE! FUCKING BRILLIANT!
They never made a game about the Wuzzles so instead we shall flash forward to 1993, after DuckTales, after Goof Troop, after Rescue Rangers but before Marsupilami – THAT REALLY HAPPENED, EVERYONE. REMEMBER TO SHRED THE EVIDENCE, PEOPLE – we were treated *cough cough cough* to an anthropomorphic bobcat called Bubs-OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, PEOPLE, WHAT’S WITH THE BOBCAT FASCINATION IN THE NINETIES?
I MEAN. THIS IS A BOBCAT. THEY’RE ONLY HALF AS CUTE AS MOST OTHER CATS.
And this is probably part of the reason as to why Bonkers SUCKS.
Backstory: Bonkers used to a be a famous TV star and then got washed up. Therefore he does the next most obvious thing and becomes a cop – I AM NOT FUCKING KIDDING YOU – and hilarity ensues because Bonkers is played out to the massively wacky, zany and bonkers – AH HA HA HA – ‘hero’ of the story.
In short, it’s an excuse for slapstick antics and not-funny jokes about accidentally leading criminals into the clutches of the police station somehow. EVERY TIME.
And there was a vague love interest (one-sided because TV LOGIC) in an attractive, blonde, female cop. It’s the 90s, people, of course they’re going to be leggy and blonde and a lovely person. Which in turn makes them fairly vapid and one-dimensional as characters. Thank goodness for progressive thinking, eh?
I suppose I’d better mention the game then, hadn’t I? So in Bonkers’ first and only video game, his first proper police partner, Lucky Piquel, has gone away on cop-related business and Bonkers wants to show that he can actually do the job, cos he’s obviously a bit shit at it, given that he has NO IDEA WHAT HE’S DOING in any episode of the TV show and is bailed out by the chief’s genius daughter pretty much every time. I mean, he’s an idiot. She isn’t. He’s not going to catch the buggers, she’s pretty much doing it all for him.
AND SHE’S LETTING IT ALL HAPPEN LIKE A CHUMP.
Anyway, there are four major cases that Bonkers gets himself involved with in the absence of the chief and as such, he’s off to find and incarcerate them all.
And it’s just an excuse to shove in four terrible minigames in continuous, monotonous succession.
And given the fact Bonkers is a bobcat, I have to ask WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
EVERYTHING. Not even hinting this time. FUCKING. EVERYTHING.
Let’s start out with the first of our four criminals we need to apprehend, all of which are from the TV show, which is actually quite neat, I’ll give it that. Harry The Handbag wants to steal some of Disney’s FINEST treasures (and a pair of golden Mickey Mouse ears, because why not?)
This game involves throwing donuts at rats to send them packing out, all while Harry the Handbag basically scampered across the screen waiting for something to happen like some sort of handbaggy tit.
I don’t even know what that is or why I said that.
Anyway, if you throw donuts at every rat before they steal all of the items, you get to move on to the next level!
WHICH IS THE EXACT SAME THING BUT HARDER.
Again, reiterating: 15 TIMES.
You know when you genuinely think that you couldn’t make shit up? I seriously could not make this shit up. This is real. It is a genuine thing.
And here’s the massive, MASSIVE problem that this game has: THAT’S IT. It is those four games 15 times over, with shoddy interludes in between them. But is this REALLY an acceptable face for gaming? Are we going OK with the concept that we’re basically going to play the same four games 15 times over, progressively getting more and more furious with the shoddy controls and repetitive gameplay? Are we?
Hopefully not but I’m not in charge of you. You do what you want. Throw the controller at your dog, I don’t care.
“DON’T TELL THEM TO THROW CONTROLLERS AT ANIMALS.”
I DIDN’T SAY I CONDONED IT. FINE. DON’T FUCKING THROW ANYTHING AT YOUR DOG, YOU MONSTER. THROW IT AT BONKERS INSTEAD.
“DON’T TELL THEM TO-”
HE’S NOT FUCKING REAL. HE’S A CARTOON BOBCAT CAREENING ACROSS THE SCREEN LIKE A PLUM. HE NEEDS THINGS THROWING AT HIM.
So should you decide that you’ve had enough of facing the idea of 15 levels of throwing donuts at rats, you can always go for a little joyride through an inescapable – INESCAPABLE- city in your anthro-cop car trying to track down Ma Tow Truck.
If you’re shaking your head by now, I do not blame you. I’ve been doing it for the last three minutes.
Basically, you have some useless weapons in the form of bubblegum to shoot at other cars and oil to make them slip behind you. If they crash into the walls, they explode AND DIE because they’re all expendable characters in child-friendly cartoons and if you don’t actually see them DIE, they’re… not really dead. Except they totally are.
I don’t even know what I’m trying to teach you here. I mean other than the fact this game is shit.
Anyway, find and destroy Ma Tow Truck 15 times and guess what? You can fucking leave this level and never come back. And you’ll feel all the better for it.
Third of the four atrocities comes in the face of throwing more shit at things in front of you for literally no real reason. In order to capture the next criminal, you have to build a wall.
NO. NO JOKES PLEASE.
Bonkers, you are seriously treading the thinnest of thin ice and walking the thinnest of thin lines because this shit is not happening. You didn’t get away with it so what makes you think you’re going to get away with the same fucking game again? It is basically the same as the donut throwing ‘masterpiece’ only this time, you’re throwing bricks to make a wall and someone else, The Rat, is trying to knock it down. See… logically this doesn’t make sense because the guy trying to knock it down is leaving himself open to being caught and all you’re actually doing is putting up a barrier that stops evil toasters, tyres and rolling pins being chucked at you.
I really, really wish I was making this up.
Actually, I don’t. I just really, really wish this didn’t exist at all. It’s fucking dire. I don’t want to talk about crap all of the time. I want to be positive and be nice about things. But Bonkers, you’re making this far harder than it needs to be. And by giving gamers literally the same mini game again, you’re cheapening the experience. It’s not as if it’s a bad idea… it’s just… I don’t think anyone really wants 15 progressively more difficult versions of the same game over and over. And if they do, they’re far more tolerant than I could EVER be and I’m pretty tolerant.
Let’s be clear here, Bonkers doesn’t do itself any favours but it’s actually because if feels like it has no idea what it wants to be. I mean… given that most Disney games end up being platform games, Bonkers probably should have been too. Perhaps the developers knew this too and thought that it wouldn’t be the best idea to oversaturate the market even more with a run-of-the-mill platform game that basically wouldn’t get noticed from non-Disney fans. Instead… we’re getting this half-hearted, idealess rubbish that runs out of steam quicker than you can say ‘pap’.
Game four is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch but that isn’t being particularly kind if you think about it. This is the one that ends up being the most frustrating due to the bad controls. This time we’re after Mr Big and he’s set up a bomb to go off in a factory warehouse somewhere. You have to find the only character that has any bomb-defusing knowhow… except he’s called Fall-Apart Rabbit.
For a reason.
He’s fallen apart into bits and you have to find all his bits and then take him with you… somehow… to defuse the bomb. Touch the bomb and you’re outta there… to inevitably redo it another 14 times HOLY FUCKING HELL ON A BIKE ON FIRE. WHAT THE…
Look. This one might be the best but the same old boring set-up is just insulting now. Kids are not that interested in repetition that they want to play your game a million times over. It didn’t work with Flicky for fifty levels. It won’t work with Bonkers for fifteen either.
Can we all go home now?
Is this a punishment? Are we being treated like criminals and being tortured? Are we? What even?
The problem is that after a while, things feel so disgustingly repetitive that you wonder why this is acceptable for kids. It’s not aimed at adults like me. It wasn’t aimed at anyone over the age of 10, possibly. But even so… the difficulty of the game and the boring nature of redoing a task because apparently you haven’t done it well enough (I dunno, that’s just how it feels) is absolutely unacceptable. And this is why it doesn’t feel right.
It’s grossly unfair.
It’s grossly difficult.
It doesn’t know what it wants to be. It wants to be a kids game but it’s poorly crafted and designed. On face value, it’s half decent to look at, particularly when some of the bigger sprites take to the forefront… but the animation is cheap, the small sprites are woefully inadequate up close and the lack of graphical flair means that children aren’t going to be kept engaged. The music’s bland and inoffensive to a point where it feels wrong even being there. Seriously, it is, sadly enough, the high point of the whole package but if you’re giving us “bland” as your major selling point, then you’re in seriously trouble here.
As such, Bonkers really has no business existing in the gaming field. Now, that’s not to suggest that some things aren’t decent about it. If you take each individual game and bonus level – although the controls of the platform-y jumping sections are some of the worst I’ve ever encountered – then you’re actually closer to what could have been a reasonable experience. There are four minigames in this game and that’s what makes it so poor. Who wants to play the same four games 15 times in a row for fun?
15 games four times, maybe.
If you like playing the same shitty game with a 3-year-old over and over until your brain explodes then Bonkers is… the game… for…
IT’S NOT EVEN FOR YOU. IT’S AWFUL. RUN AWAY.
RUN AWAY NOW. TAKE YOUR BRAIN WITH YOU.