Although there is a single player option, Bonkies is designed for couch co-op and local communication. The concept of stacking items with the help of friends was made popular by Hal’s Switch release of Part Time UFO last year but Studio Gauntlet’s co-op builder carries its own charm and entertainment value.
Taking control of a monkey in a space suit, a team of simian astronauts are tasked with building a structure within a set time limit. The low gravity environment makes stacking and coordinating floaty and inaccurate but that is sort of the point. Since each monkey can operate one large claw and can only carry so much weight with a limited jetpack, teamwork is needed to stabilize taller stacks from falling. In summary, the player needs to stack Tetris-like pieces against a shadow on the background. Once tier one is completed, more pieces appear and challenge two builds upon the first challenge. This is all fine and dandy until you hit tier 3, the timer is running out, and your tall building crumbles because you placed that last piece a little too roughly. As fun as playing this virtual form of Jenga is, it is beyond heart-breaking to lose an eight and half minute challenge at the buzzer, being forced to start all over again.
In order to fully appreciate this game, you need to play with other players. Strangely enough, co-op mode can be activated even when playing solo but you won’t be able to make it very far since one of the first bricks is so heavy it requires two players to lift. Sometimes glass blocks appear too. However, if these fall, they will break apart into smaller pieces which might make placing them easier to balance but at the cost of time. It is an interesting mechanic that actually creates a lot of strategy. Play control is also intuitive as moving is as simple as moving the analog stick but controlling the arm and grip is activated with the face buttons and trigger. It works better than you might think but there is an all analog control option toggleable in the menu.
Do not be deceived by the charming and brightly colored presentation. This game is very challenging. In fact, this game is so hard that I was unable to finish the opening tutorial stages. After losing the 8-minute trial a few times in a row, I hit my limit. The music also starts off very friendly but starts to antagonize the player as the challenge and frustration levels start to grow. However, even though I couldn’t make it very far and my tenacity was tested, I still enjoyed my time with this couch stacker and understand the appeal. If you have a dedicated partner nearby and looking to test the levels of your relationship, Bonkies should be on your radar.
Also available on PS4, PC, and Switch.
Also Try: Snipperclips (Switch)
Don’t Forget About: Part Time UFO (Switch)
Wait For It: a another sequel to BoxBoxBoy! or PushMo