We always have to remind ourselves what large role outward appearence plays in a highly formulaic genre such as jump 'n' runs. Particularly, a lot depends on the protagonist design. After all, what is it that has become so iconic from the most famous genre entries? Of course, it is Mario in his bibs and Sonic's trademarked spiked head. Bonk first saw the light of day on the PC Engine in the late 1980s. This miracle machine of the 8 bit console generation never had its big break in the western world, however. When German developer Factor 5 ported the game to a much more common home computer some years later under the name of B.C. Kid, it therefore still appeared quite fresh.
And lo and behold: the protagonist is quite recognizable! The caricature childlike characteristics of this pre-historic baby show in its giant head… which almost immediately gets the centre of attention in the core game mechanics as well. It is because only this tough-as-nails skull can punch the enemies out of the game. Courageous head butts or headers soon become the main activity. The tiny arms and legs nevertheless showing cutely animated tension.
Things don't end there, though: climbing up works by literally sinking the teeth into walls. Fruit regenerate life energy, but meat consumption pumps up the abilities of the vegetarian hero – also accompanied by another funny animation (fuming ears, waggling arms), of course.
All this takes place in quite varied levels. The blocky design, doing almost completely without slopes, reminds of something like Duplo world. All of sudden, volcanoes emerge from the ground; another time, you'll be tiptoeing over a dinosaur's back; then you'll swim and dive through a lake (or other liquids); you'll swing on lianes in best Pitfall tradition; skid over ice (whoops, there are slopes, after all); sink into quicksand… the different level designs not just changing visually, but introducing new gameplay-relevant elements, keeps motivation high. Though the same unfortunately cannot be said about the opponents.
The fair difficulty level enables quick progress. This, on the other hand, makes the game seem rather short end-to-end. Still better this way than keeping players away from the ending through frustrating passages.
Nevertheless, it has to be admitted: the game does not re-invent the genre. It doesn't even vary it in a significant way. By the beginning of the 90s, it was already rather common to introduce a special gimmick into one's game. This only occurs in B.C. Kid as far as visual design is concerned, after all. The protagonist sprite and its movements are rather memorable. Its adventure is entertaining, but it showed a little bit of age already in 1993.
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