“Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?”
“Are you ready to meet your opponents on the field? To lay it all out on the line and show the world what you’re made of? Are you ready to give 110%? To push yourself to the limits of what you thought was even possible? So I’ll ask you again. Are you ready?”
“… For what?
“Are you ready to BONK!?
How it Plays
From the people who brought us KLASK, we now have another wooden, capitalized game in the form of BONK. Opponents sit on opposite sides of the board in either a 1 vs. 1 or 2 vs. 2 configuration. The goal is to try and get the ball in the opposing team’s scoring area.
Each player is assigned a chute and is given three metal bearings to start the game. Each round starts with a simultaneous high five between all players, after which play immediately begins. You attempt to the knock the ball into the scoring area by dropping a bearing down the chute and knocking the ball around. Once a point is scored, the ball is placed back in the middle and a new round begins. Play continues until one side scores 5 points and is the winner.
BONK conjures a lot of memories of my time with the old game of Crossfire. The basic premise is the same, but the execution make them play differently in significant ways and makes BONK its own game.
The play surface is slightly domed so that the ball is never at a standstill once it’s moved from it’s initial starting point. This keeps the action going. Once the ball starts moving there’s a momentum to the game that really adds to the experience. When the ball is on side of the play area, that team is under pressure. If they miss their shots, the ball is guaranteed to score. It adds a frantic pace to their actions. All the while, the opposing side is bombarding them with long range shots to try and finish off the score. And it’s this design choice that gives BONK its personality.
Similar to tennis or even Pong, BONK is relentless. There are no pauses until a point is scored. There’s no slowing down the pace or holding for position. The ball is in constant motion and players are under constant pressure. Every move matters. The bearings move with quite a bit of speed and have a decent amount of mass. A solid hit can send the ball moving with surprising speed.
There are some slight annoyances that crop up due mostly to the weight of the ball. It’s a good size so it’s relatively easy to hit, but I wish it were just a little bit denser. This means that’s it’s not too difficult to hit the ball unless it’s moving fast, but since it’s so light, it usually is moving fast. Hard hits are fun and satisfying but it seems to happen just a little too often which means volleys don’t tend to go on for as long as I’d like. It’s purely a preference on my end and it does keep games moving at a quick pace. But the few times that there were long intense volleys just made me wish they happened more often.
I do have to say that though the game suggests it can be played as a 2 player game, it’s really meant for 4. With 2 players, there’s just no room for error. One missed shot and you’re basically going to get scored against. When you’re partnered up, you can rely on your opponent to hit the ball when you miss. Hopefully. And really, there’s a dearth of team games so it’s nice to see one.
BONK is a simple game about bonking balls against balls. It draws a crowd with its attractive build and cheers with it’s fast paces action. It draws from lots of familiar touchstones, most notably sports. It works as a spectator activity as well as a team experience.