Game: Bonito Days
Genre: Multiplayer, Party, Arcade, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer|Publisher: Studio Somewhere
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: US $9.99 | UK £7.99 | EU € 9,99
Release Date: October 14th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to Honest PR
There’s a party game in the original Super Monkey Ball on GameCube known as Monkey Target. The goal of this game was to fly to a giant target and try and strategically land on it, ideally in the centre in order to obtain the highest score possible. It was a game mode I thoroughly enjoyed with my brother back in the day.
Even though it wasn’t the main feature of the game it ended up being quite the highlight. But being a small mini-game it’s quite bare bones. Bonito Days is a game that appears to take inspiration from this game mode but focuses the entire game on this concept. But does it make for its own standalone game experience? Let’s find out.
Roll, Fly and Land
Bonito Days is a party game that is best enjoyed with other people, though you can jump into this as a solo experience. You play as a weird fish-like character whose colour and pattern you can choose before starting a level. Once selected a random name is given to you like ‘strawberry.’ You begin the level in ball form, then you usually roll down a hill before launching into fly mode. From there you need to reach the target. Along the way, you can collect sweets and power-ups which may help with your landings like a weight or magnet power-up.
You can’t fly forever so you do need to make sure you stay on target. Once you find the target you need to attempt to carefully land on the highest score you can (usually in the centre). But this is not as easy as it seems, as when you drop into the target you go back to ball form and move around until settling on the target. It becomes an exercise of calculating on the fly when the best time to land is. You get three attempts per level.
There are multiple routes through each level with multiple targets to discover, some of which offer a very high score but are at very high risk. The game does offer some alternative level designs to mix the formula up. Some levels just require you to fly about collecting sweets and flying through rings to get the highest score possible before a timer expires. Some also have you exploring in the ball a bit navigating around a small 3D level before launching off a small platform.
Free Mode and Multiplayer
You can choose free mode where you simply select a level and obtain the highest score possible or you can try tournament mode where you play five levels back to back and the winner with the highest score is determined at the end. If you play alone there are no bots, you are just competing against yourself which can seem a little lonely. Multiplayer is split-screen for up to four gamers and you are able to bump into other players if you want to. But that would just be mean, wouldn’t it?
Controls are quite easy and accessible for gamers of all skill levels. The game does offer a simple tutorial which you can access in the main menu. It’s short and simple, which is pretty handy if you need to play it again for a friend or that random stranger on the bus when you play the game in handheld mode. The clear focus of the game is less about getting the high score and more about players having a good time.
Chilled and Friendly
The graphics are warm and friendly. Levels are presented in bright colours and it has a sort of chilled out feel to it that is suitable for all audiences. You’ll glide through island landscapes and roll around the very small city looking areas. The presentation looks something like a warm friendly children’s book but there is some nice attention to detail in the simple design. When you fly, you can see the wind trails and as your fishy friend starts to tire, you can see them flap their arms and sweat in a somewhat heart-wrenching panic.
There is also a decent soundtrack with some nice vocal numbers as you try and fly your way to victory. It certainly adds to that chill factor. Going into this game does have the feel of a nice holiday which is pretty handy if you want to escape from the reality of a cold Autumn day. The game also runs great in both handheld and TV modes.
Bonito Days is an enjoyable experience but it does feel like the game still lacks depth to its design. There is a generous amount of levels but a lot of the designs bleed together. Themes are repeating regularly with what appears to be minor variations in level design. It feels like the game could have still used some additional power-ups. After finishing a single cup I felt I had seen everything there was to see. It’s a shame more variety in level design wasn’t added or content to just unlock.
One big niggle I had is the camera is awful in this game. On the levels where you explore in the ball, you need to use the trigger to rotate the camera. But this experience is clunky and often the camera moves into very uncomfortable positions. It’s not a game-breaker but the game is more entertaining when you’re flying rather than rolling.
Conclusion – The Bonito Days are Over
Bonito Days offers a fun experience that feels best enjoyed with friends and family though there is some fun to be had alone. For the most part, the game sets out what it aims to do. A simple relaxing party game that is designed more to chill out with rather than a challenge. Nothing wrong with this concept but had the game added a bit more depth to the gameplay this could have been something truly memorable. Maybe that game will come later but until then, this certainly falls comfortably into the category of a stress-free gaming experience.
Final Verdict: I Like it