Good vibes, city pop and a summertime aesthetic make Bonito Days – a new game heavily inspired by the target minigame in Super Monkey ball – an incredibly pleasant experience.
Playable with up to four friends, Bonito Days is a game that relies on its simplicity. Playing as a flying fish (which can come in a number of different colours), your goal is to collect as many points as possible while navigating the many different bright and colourful maps.
You start each level inside of a little ball, with the aim of gaining enough momentum so your fish can soar through the sky and start building up that score. You cannot fly indefinitely, however, and this is where the game’s (modest) challenge comes into play. If you fly too high – or too low, you run the risk of hitting the water and quickly losing a life. For each game you have three lives; three chances to rack up your score.
I think the developers have done a good job of balancing a simple concept and controls, with enough considerations to keep the gameplay interesting. The maps themselves play a large part in this success, as the different structures of the levels all take some time to learn. Knowing the optimal route to take to get the best score, whilst keeping yourself airborne and positioning your character to hit the target (and not roll off, like I did many times), are all considerations that elevate the simplistic gameplay to something more thoughtful.
Power-ups (often found in hard to reach spots) offer an additional incentive for players to work towards,
The more the merrier:
The charm of Bonito Days is undeniable, but, this isn’t a game with a lot of depth – and that is okay, mostly.
For the modest price, Bonito Days provides a relaxing and initially fun experience. Where the game shines is in the company of others. The two modes (cup mode and free play), lack of unlockables and short learning curve mean that, as a single-player experience, Bonito Days might struggle to hold your attention.
That being said, with a group of friends this game can be really fun. The casual nature, calming aesthetic and numerous different maps encourage a fun couch co-op experience full of laughter, stress and good times.
The lack of a leaderboard or score-tracking does feel like a big oversight, however.
Good vibes all day:
I’ve alluded to this already, but Bonito Days visual design and excellent pop city soundtrack elevated the experience a great deal for me. This might seem like a somewhat muted compliment, but I just found the game a pleasure to play.
Each track harkens back to simpler times – for me, to when I was a kid during summer losing countless hours to my Playstation 2, without any sense of time or structure. The music is bright and positive, with enough variety to match the many different locations.
The bright and cheery colour palette and creative map designs all contribute to a game that is just a pleasure to sit down and play. From snowy mountains, to small waterside towns, to of course bright and cheery beaches, each location feels perfectly idyllic.
Bonito Days is a game that manages to encapsulate a certain feeling, whether that be childhood nostalgia, or a particularly relaxing holiday – or even something else entirely.
Whilst the gameplay itself would have benefitted from a tad more variety and incentives to work towards (such as some sort of leaderboard or unlockables), there are still bundles of happiness and good vibes for the player to derive from this experience. And the simple gameplay can provide plenty of laughs if you can get a group of friends together.
Bonito Days isn’t a game that you’ll likely lose hours and hours to. Shorter, more infrequent play sessions are where you’ll see the game really shine, and get to appreciate the warm, cosy aesthetic and vibe that the developers have absolutely perfected.
Yes, the experience isn’t all that long lasting, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t memorable.