Did you ever play the Monkey Target mini-game in Super Monkey Ball and think to yourself, ‘I’d love to play a game based entirely around this concept’? If so, Bonito Days might be for you, albeit in a more relaxed form that’s filled with lovely sights and a popping soundtrack. Of course, it was just a mini-game in Super Monkey Ball, so how does launching yourself to targets hold up in a full release? Well, whilst I did have fun playing, it didn’t take long before the lack of depth and real progress in the experience saw it getting a bit repetitive.
Check out a gallery of screenshots for the game down below:
Bonito Days’ gameplay is based around flying through areas and then landing down to hit targets, with the player starting levels in a little ball and then launching themselves off a slope and gliding through the skies. You’ll launch at a faster speed based upon the momentum you hit the slope at, whilst players are also able to manoeuvre through the air in order to try and build up speed or slow themselves down. Be careful though; you can’t glide for too long and if your momentum starts dipping, you can expect to nosedive to the ground quite quickly.
Points are earned by collecting the sweets that are scattered across the sky, with a trail surrounding groups of them to give the player a decent indicator as to which way they need to go to collect them all in bunches. There are also hoops to go through that’ll add to your score multiplier as well as collectible power-ups, though these are often in harder to reach areas that’ll demand a bit more precision from the player. It’s worth grabbing them if you want to get the higher scores though, whilst the power ups can be a game changer – especially when trying to land perfectly on the target (something which is much easier when you’ve got the ‘weight’ powerup that sees you thud down with accuracy).
“Levels are expansive in size and bring plenty of little areas to explore too, so there’s lots for the player to find when looking for those sweets, bonuses, or new targets to land on.”
Your efforts in Bonito Days won’t count if you don’t actually hit the target in the end, so you’ve always got to make sure you’ve got enough momentum when gliding to actually reach them. There are typically plenty scattered around a level so you’ll never be too far from safety, but it’ll still take a bit of planning if you want to reach them risk-free. Each area of the target will bring with it a different point value too, so you’ll always want to try and land in high scoring areas.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds though, especially since you go back into a ball form when landing. This means that the momentum of your fall will carry through into your landing; if you land too fast, you might end up rolling off the target (and into a hazard if you’re very unlucky). It means you’ve got to try and slow down or get as low as possible if you want to get a high level of accuracy, though this does mean you’ll have a lower hangtime bonus – the longer you spend in the air when landing, the higher of a score modifier you’ll receive.
“Believe me, it’s satisfying when you collect a bunch of sweets and bonuses to increase your multiplier and hit your landing PERFECTLY… just expect to be equally annoyed when you accidentally hit an obstacle instead or lose momentum and land in the sea.”
It makes for a fun gameplay loop where players will spend plenty of time navigating the skies in order to earn extra points, but will always have to ensure they’re maintaining momentum to land on the target in the end. Levels are expansive in size and bring plenty of little areas to explore too, so there’s lots for the player to find when looking for those sweets, bonuses, or new targets to land on. And believe me, it’s satisfying when you collect a bunch of sweets and bonuses to increase your multiplier and hit your landing PERFECTLY… just expect to be equally annoyed when you accidentally hit an obstacle instead or lose momentum and land in the sea.
Whilst Bonito Days is satisfying to play, there’s not a whole lot of depth to the experience. There are only two game modes to play through (Cups and Free Play) but neither do anything particularly exciting outside of challenging the player to rack up scores. There aren’t any unlockables to earn either, so once you’ve played through all of the levels there’s not much incentive to keep you coming back for more – especially since there aren’t any online leaderboards to compete with other players around the world. In fact, it doesn’t even keep track of local scores, so it’s not as if you can work to beat your own personal best. There are levels based around collecting sweets as opposed to hitting targets that do spice the gameplay up a little bit, but they’re few and far between.
It meant I was done with the game quite quickly, especially since it doesn’t take long to play through the five cups or the twenty levels on offer. There is split-screen multiplayer for up to four players which is pretty fun, but again, it lacked the depth to keep us invested for big play sessions.
“Whether flying over an array of islands, rolling across a snowy mountain, zipping between buildings in a small town, or overlooking the night sky as you soar past waterfalls, there’s ALWAYS something pretty to see in Bonito Days.”
Whilst the gameplay didn’t keep me hooked in for too long, I absolutely loved the presentation of the game. The art style is wonderful and packed to the brim with vibrant colours, whilst the variety of the levels ensured there was plenty of unique sights to glide through. Whether flying over an array of islands, rolling across a snowy mountain, zipping between buildings in a small town, or overlooking the night sky as you soar past waterfalls, there’s ALWAYS something pretty to see in Bonito Days.
There’s some fantastic sound design too, whether it’s with the catchy soundtrack that fits the chilled-out vibe of the gameplay perfectly or the quirky little sound effects that accompany everything you do. It’s clear that a lot of love and effort was put into the game’s presentation and it has really paid off in the final product – it’s just one of those game worlds that feel like a joy to spend time in.
And that’s part of the appeal of Bonito Days. It doesn’t have the deepest gameplay experience or one that’ll constantly keep you coming back for more, but it looks and sounds beautiful and feels relaxing to play. Whilst I can’t see myself trying to improve my scores (especially since the game doesn’t track them), it feels like the perfect game to unwind to when I want to chill out for ten minutes here and there and just embrace the charming world.
It makes it an ideal little title for the Nintendo Switch then really, where it also manages to look and play flawlessly in both handheld and docked modes. Sure, I did have one glitch where the controls stopped responding randomly, but that was a one-off during the three to four hours I’ve spent with the game so far.
Bonito Days Summary
Bonito Days looks and sounds wonderful, but the gameplay lacks the depth or sense of progression to keep players hooked in for too long. It’s not that it’s not fun to play, but rather that there isn’t a whole lot to do once you’ve beaten the levels a couple of times.
Despite this, I can still see myself coming back for small playthroughs here and there, especially since the world is lovely to be a part of and the soundtrack is packed with charming and catchy beats. If you’ve ever had a rubbish day and want a quick smile, I’m sure Bonito Days’ quirky little ‘fishy boys’ will be able to help players out – even IF it might not always be the gameplay that draws you in.
Developer: Studio Somewhere
Publisher: Studio Somewhere
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch