Retro-Review: Bonk’s Adventure (TurboGrafx-16)


System: TurboGrafx-16 (Wii Virtual Console)
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Developer: Hudson Soft
Genre: Platformer

Remember the 16-bit wars? The Super Nintendo VS the Sega Genesis is what the majority of people think of, but there was one more contender that most have never even heard of. The TurboGrafx-16 from Hudson is that forgotten system of the 16-bit era. It failed for numerous reasons including the heavy price-tag, no Sonic or Mario, and all around lack of tons of triple-A titles. But while it is true that there weren’t very many standout games, the TurboGrafx-16 definitely had more than a couple of great titles worth your play time, and Bonk’s Adventure is easily the most notable. Let’s check it out, shall we?


Bonk’s Adventure stars a little caveman with a heart of gold and a head of gravel named, you guessed it, Bonk. The thing that sets Bonk apart from other classic platformers of the time was that he used his head, not his feet, to attack foes. That’s right, so instead of hopping on an enemy’s head like in Mario you attack either from underneath, jumping up and performing a dive onto their craniums, or straight up smacking your skull into theirs without ever leaving the ground. Awesome.

The gameplay concept of attacking with your head instead of your feet proves to be an extremely fun and refreshing one that makes the game interesting from start to finish. Almost nothing is more fun than bopping a demonic flower 30 feet into the air as repeatedly as possible until finally letting its lifeless floral corpse fall to the ground.

Possessed flowers aren’t the only enemies you’ll run into. There are plenty of fun and memorable baddies to mercilessly murder with nothing more than your own skull, my favorite being the little sea creatures with goggles and harpoons. If that isn’t awesome to you, then maybe the KKK hood-wearing, tomahawk-wielding bird things will tickle your fancy.

One thing some might find slightly disappointing is how all the bosses are handled the same way. Each good-turned-bad dino boss has a colorful eggshell cap on their heads witch is the obvious target for Bonk to bonk. Every boss does, thankfully, fight in different ways that keep each encounter fun and thrilling. Good luck making your way through the final boss battle on your first try, by the way. It’s basically a conglomeration of all the baddies you fought through your first time through the game in consecutive fashion. Very challenging.

Graphics are fun and colorful, both fore and background. Character designs are all well-done in a very cartoony fashion. Some are even so cute that you might not want to kill them. That is until you remember how fun smashing a prehistoric being’s brains out with your own rock-hard caveman cranium is. That being said, Bonk’s Adventure was one of the first 16-bit titles to be released and it definitely shows with its somewhat bare presentation and visuals that aren’t as detailed as later 16-bit games got to be.

The music in Bonk’s Adventure is probably my favorite thing about it besides the headbutting mechanic. Almost every tune twists your mouth into a carefree grin while you subconsciously shimmy your shoulders from side to side while you go on a skull-bashing spree through prehistoric locales.

Final Words:

Bonk’s Adventure is a forgotten classic of yesterday, and one that never found the following it deserved due to its exclusivity to the TurboGrafx-16 console. However, thanks to the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console feature, you can pick up this great gem for a mere 6 bucks or 600 Wii Points which I highly recommend doing.


  • Refreshing gameplay mechanics
  • Colorful visuals
  • Awesome music
  • Enemies and characters
  • Bonk


  • Didn’t get the following it deserved
  • Boss fights are handled the same, though they vary in offensive styles


Overall: 8.25/10 (Great)

Gameplay: 9.0/10 (Genius headbutting mechanic is super fun)
Graphics: 7.5/10 (Bright and colorful but don’t stand up to later Turbo games)
Audio: 8.5/10 (Great tunes)
Entertainment Value: 8.0/10 (It’ll stay fresh for multiple play-throughs and is only 6 bucks)

5 thoughts on “Retro-Review: Bonk’s Adventure (TurboGrafx-16)

  1. An awesome series that keeps my TG-16 close at hand. Of the series, Bonk’s Revenge is my favorite though. Mostly because of childhood memories of playing it in the kiosks that RadioShack used to have specifically for the system. 🙂

  2. Bonk is so awesome!!! I’m glad that they allow you to buy them on the Wii Channel… Wii ROCKS!!! 🙂

  3. Great effing game. I was one of the kids who had this and played the “real” consoles at friends’ houses. But this is a real classic.

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  5. I might just dig my old TG16 out of the closet to play this game again. I prefer originals over Wii Shop emulators, but it might have to suffice if I can’t find it or feel too lazy to do so.

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