Do you remember those old Acme cartoons with the double-take? (What, you weren’t born in the 1930s!?) The double-take is where you look at something, look away, then as the old grey matter kicks in, you look back to comprehend what you just saw. In Bonito Days, you start as a ball, roll off a ramp and then fly through the air collecting hearts as a fish. Based on a true story.
You might have seen the thumbnail show up in the new releases section on the Nintendo eShop and skimmed past, not knowing anything about it, but give it a chance as it’s surprisingly good fun. If the concept of launching a fish into the sky to earn their pilot wings doesn’t appeal, maybe go into your garden and play with a stick or something else?
There’s no definitive story arc here, so if you’re seeking a tale about a fish out of water, jog on. However, if you want a smooth flowing arcade-like experience with a hint of Super Monkey Ball, only a bit more subdued (in a good way), then Bonito Days fits the gill. I mean, bill.
Assuming the starting pose of a ball, you’ll need to roll around each stage like in Marble Madness until you find a ramp or similar to propel you into the air. From here, you’ll shapeshift into a glorious lit’ fishy and glide through the skies collecting all sorts of goodies. Eventually, you’ll lose momentum, so you’ll have to weigh up whether to push a little further and collect more items (hearts and random power-ups) or shift back into a ball and aim to land bang on the centre of a bullseye on the ground.
Bonito Days is pretty accessible and suitable for family play. It didn’t take long to set up a family tournament as there are many customisations from the start, access to practically all the courses, and a random name generator that has to be my favourite. I’m thinking of changing Vulgar Knight to Bill Grapes.
Getting up in the air and staying there is easy peasy; the skill is related to the accuracy of collecting all items (they’re easy to miss as you’re pretty small). It’s also important to time your landing to land on the designated targets for the maximum amount of points. Naturally, there are obstacles in the way, and if you collide with anything, you’re out. You get three attempts, which is reasonable enough, and while it’s a user-friendly experience, getting a little cocky or complacent can eat into your attempts pretty damn quick.
Understandably, momentum is the challenging part for most – myself included, but the hardest element was trying a bit of showboating and attempting to fly through rock corridors as if in a GoPro video. If you can pull off those sorts of tricks in Bonito Days, hats off to you, but I’d frequently crash. Practice makes perfect.
The game isn’t solely targeted at families as it’s a pretty good party game for up to four players. It’s worth noting that the game is pushed as a chill experience, and to be fair, that’s pretty accurate. The colours are like a bunch of pastels that went to a 90s rave and upped their radiance. My daughter compared the art style to the intro of Odd Taxi, if you’re familiar with it.
Linking to the anime above, which had its fair share of quality tunes, Bonito Days has a soundtrack that also pops. It isn’t the type of music that I would actively listen to independently, but when married with the gameplay, it’s incredibly upbeat and uplifting. It does verge on the sickly side, but in moderation, it’s a highlight.
To come full circle, well, semi-circle as it wasn’t all that long ago, Studio Somewhere’s non-zombie game is a chill experience. There’s no urgency to demolish the tracks and claim to have the best times. The focus, I feel, is more about taking your time and going with the flow – the competitive element was secondary for us as a family as it’s so laid back. It’s a nice alternative to typical party games where there is an incentive to do better than your opponents, but it’s like, chill, man. Y’know?