If all Bonkies are Funky, and all Funkies are Monkeys, then are all Monkeys Bonkies? Publisher Crunching Koalas will help us find the answer to this riddle in Bonkies from developer Studio Gauntlet.
Bonkies is a playing-with-blocks simulation game where you are an adorable monkey in a spacesuit. Using your high-tech gear, you will pick up and place blocks of various shapes and sizes.
Players are tasked with piling, stacking, and assembling these blocks into a specific, predetermined shape. As players progress through the levels, said stacking gets more and more difficult; from your base platform now floating in liquid, to trying to keep blocks still in zero-G, Bonkies has a pleasant difficulty curve.
But placing and balancing blocks isn’t the only challenge. Players will also have to contend with things like sensitive exploding blocks, blocks made of ice, and even jet-pack blocks that can lift your creations to new heights, or send your hard work to its doom.
The gameplay mechanics are simple enough once you get the hang of them. Use the left joycon to move your Bonkie around, L for your jetpack, and R to grab onto blocks. A, B, X, and Y control the direction of the grabby-arm. Holding any of those buttons while carrying a block will stabilise it in that direction.
The game consists of a solo campaign and a multiplayer campaign. When first booting up Bonkies, the game itself tells you outright that it is better played with others, so grab some local co-op buddies to bonkie with on your couch.
The solo campaign is moderately entertaining for a while, but can eventually become very frustrating. The game asks a lot of a single bonkie, and watching your meticulously built creation slowly topple over because you couldn’t fly around quickly enough to activate two jet-blocks at the same time feels more like punishment than fun.
The multiplayer campaign is where Bonkies is entertaining. It becomes much easier to lift blocks because now there are two hands and jetpacks doing the lifting. Of course, blocks themselves become bigger and heavier, and will require at least two bonkies to lift them.
Multiplayer can suffer from the same issue as the solo-campaign in that levels can recommend 2+ or 3+ players. 3+ levels done with two people, again, feels a bit like being punished for not having enough friends to play with.
Each level is timed. You must be under the limit to beat the level, but if you manage to beat the level under a specific amount of time you will be rewarded with a banana. Bananas are used to unlock bonkie capsules you come across, which in turn unlocks new characters to play as.
This means that there are plenty of collectibles to work towards. Each planet can have a few bonkie capsules, and not all bonkies are monkeys. From dog to raccoon, there are plenty of cute playable creatures to unlock.
The graphics are nice and colourful, and controlling your bonkie feels smooth and precise. The music is really well done, it’s soothing but not overpowering. It makes each level feel like a meditation session rather than a video game.
All in all, there is some enjoyment to be had mainly from the multiplayer campaign. Bonkies has the feel of a game suited for a younger audience, so perhaps parents can consider picking this one up for some fun block-building bonding time with their tykes.
Gather a group of four, and Bonkies will provide many hours of block-stacking fun. However, even the most meditative music can only keep a solo-bonkie sane for so long when the game caters primarily for a local multiplayer audience.