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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (41997)
Written on  :  Jun 10, 2021
Platform  :  Commodore 64
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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It's another one of those Panic clones for the C-64.

The Good

Apple Panic is a game by Brøderbund Software where the aim is to dig holes in platforms for killer apples to fall through, then cover the same holes before they manage to crawl out of them. This successful game made an appearance on the Apple II, Atari 400, and VIC-20. Although the Commodore 64 missed out on a port, several clones were available, such as Panic 64 and Alien Panic 64. Then, of course, there was Bonka.

Presented on the screen are four platforms separated by ladders. What differentiates Bonka from other Panic clones is that before you can do anything useful, you need to climb all the way to the top to get a hammer without getting attacked. Then, you can start smashing holes in the other platforms so the monsters fall down through them and die. I found that getting the hammer is quite difficult, even if there is one monster on the screen; but once you get that hammer, killing them is easy. All you have to do is press fire once to dig a hole, then again to cover it up. Once you killed the only monster on the screen, it’s time to move on to the next level. Good thing you don’t need to worry about getting the hammer again.

The front cover for the game is well designed, and it sort of depicts two characters fighting over a hammer. They look nothing like the characters in the game; the human actually looks like one of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The bottom claims that the game is written in machine code, which I suppose was a pretty big deal back in the day because it meant the games ran faster than they would be if they were written in BASIC.

The game opens up with the nice animation below the title; the N serving as a ladder the hero uses to escape from the monsters. You can choose whether or not you can read the instructions. Whether you enter Yes or No, eventually you have to enter your name, which serves no purpose other than to add your name in the high score chart if you are good enough.

Graphic-wise, I like how the monsters are drawn; they look like ant heads facing the screen. When you have killed the only ant you see, the next level will have more appear (six is the maximum). Your hero’s walking animations are rather amusing as well. I like the scoring system. The more platforms the ants fall through in one go, the more points you are awarded. I also like that when an ant dies, you see a portion of the C-64’s memory map. The sound effects are nothing to crow about, although the fart sound that is heard when you fall down a hole yourself is quite cool.

The Bad

You can climb up and down ladders from a decent height and not die, yet you can fall down one hole and lose a life. Where is the logic in that?

The Bottom Line

Bonka is a good clone of the Panic games that were released on the early eight-bit home systems, but instead of space monsters or apples, you are dealing with ants. The graphics and animations are good, and the addition of a high score table gives anyone the perfect opportunity to “score attack”.