Thursday 6 January 2022

Bonanza Bros. (Sega Master System review)

Developer: Synergy
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1991

Bonanza Bros. is an action game that was first released in the Arcades in 1990.

Playing as either Robo or Mobo your mission is to help the Police Chief clean up Badville by obtaining evidence about the town's illegal operations. Each of the game's ten stages task you with collecting a set number of items while evading guards or incapacitating them with your stun gun. Despite including only a handful of levels there's enough here to keep you playing and most of that is down to the interesting locales that include a bank, mansion and art gallery. Another plus is the multitude of enemy types that are slowly introduced and a big part of the enjoyment comes from learning their attack patterns and trying to outsmart them as stealthily as possible. Successfully using objects in the environment to do so is indefinitely hilarious (in a Tom and Jerry kind of way) and the stages do a great job of alerting you to their presence in an intuitive way (e.g. Stage 2 begins by placing an enemy in front of a door that you can swing open to immobilise them). Unlike the Sega Genesis version (1991), there's no two-player option which is disappointing; however, the upshot is that the entire playfield is available rather than it being split which makes it much easier to plan your route and locate items. With the latter, I really like how a map is displayed prior to each stage that highlights the position of each item, as it allows you to strategically navigate your way through the floors in a more methodical manner. There is some minor slowdown and the controls can occasionally be laggy (in as much as button presses aren't immediately responded to in-game), but there are a few humorous voice samples that add personality.

Bonanza Bros. has little in the way of longevity due to its paltry number of stages, but each one is exquisitely designed and features engaging gameplay throughout. Where it shines is how it gives you multiple ways to succeed and whether you choose to play aggressively or using stealth there's a lot of fun to be had.

Random trivia: This 8-bit version was only released in Europe and Brazil.

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