As nights get longer and Summer comes to an end, many of us are missing its warmth and stress-free feeling. Luckily, Studio Somewhere have come up with an excellent solution to our seasonal bereavement. Bonito Days is our answer. Focusing on creating a relaxing, sun filled environment for us to zip around in – our dog days are over. Lose yourself in levels upon levels of city pop inspired goodness, and celebrate with a little dance and a tune. This game is perfect for anyone looking to escape these rainy days and cold mornings.
From the glorious beaches of Temaki Sands to the snowy ice caps of Narwhal Station, Bonito Days has something for everyone.
Bonito Days is available on Nintendo Switch for your regional pricing.
STORY: Let’s take it easy
The story for this game is basically its sole purpose – which is to enjoy Summer whilst it lasts. Essentially it is advertised as a bunch of flying fish just wanting to have a good time. There’s no campaign or end goal, it’s just that. Which is pretty much the whole point of summer. When you were on summer vacation, did you wake up with the intention to complete something? Or go on a mighty quest? Or were your intentions just to take the day as it came and enjoy yourself whilst doing it?
You’re told the aim of the game from the get go, and you are free to dive in (literally) as soon as you’re ready. There’s no cutscenes or backstory, just an immaculate relaxing nature to get you started. All levels are available from the minute you boot up Bonito Days. Although I definitely enjoyed having everything readily available to me, I think some sort of unlocking system would make me feel more compelled to master the game. Or at least some sort of story to understand why my little fish ended up in such beautiful environments. There isn’t any skill level to it, which is a shame as I think it could really benefit from having some unlockable features.
Be who you want to be
One element I did really love, though, is that there isn’t any way you can name your character. I expected it to just take my gamertag from my Nintendo account – but it didn’t. When you have spent hours deciding on your fish’s colour scheme and pattern, you are assigned a random name. There’s something about this very small feature which I just adore. I am so used to creating dumb names for things, getting one assigned to me felt like an honour. Especially because you don’t know what you’re going to get.
Each time you pick up Bonito Days it feels like a whole new experience. Whether that’s because you get a new identity or the fact there’s a whole world to explore. It just doesn’t feel stale or overplayed even after putting a good few hours into it.
GAMEPLAY: The sky is your limit
If you’ve played any of the Monkey Ball Monkey Target games growing up, you’ll be familiar with these controls. This title uses a similar approach to gameplay – but executes it in a much more exciting way. I loved Monkey Ball, but there is something so refreshing about this title. I can’t tell if it’s the bright, expansive maps or the fun little fish character. Either way, this game is a must. I found it very easy to pick up and get going. There’s a neat tutorial if you do find yourself a bit lost. But if you just want to dive in, there’s that option too.
For a game with one simple goal, ‘aim for the targets’, there is a surprising amount of skill that goes into it. I honestly expected to be able to pick it up and instantly be able to blitz through each level. But oh no, boy was I wrong. There is much more to it than just plummeting off a ledge and flying around. To the left of the screen, there’s an altitude bar which shows your character’s limits. Fly too high and you’ll start falling, but go too low and you’ll dip your toes in the sea or end up stumbling. It definitely took me a decent amount of time to find the healthy middle.
At first I definitely found this frustrating. It isn’t explained in the tutorial, so you’re responsible for learning this yourself. Before you know it you’ll be zooming around like the sky has no limits.
A whole new world
This game definitely isn’t short of content either. Usually with games of this style I find myself getting fairly bored after a few hours of playing. But there are always new things to find and discover. There are more than 20 levels to glide, soar and zoom through, with more than one target to each. If you’re feeling particularly free, why don’t you just explore the whole map? You never know what you’ll find tucked away. Each level is completely unique as well, and ensures you are learning new skills or trying new things. This game is compiled with gentle encouragement, and that is what makes it pop.
There are two game modes to explore as well: Target Test and Sweet Rush. Both of which involve collecting heart shaped candy, getting power ups and discovering new routes. I absolutely love how little effort it takes to enjoy this title. You can pick it up for one game and before you know it a few hours have passed. It is extremely easy to lose yourself in, so Studio Somewhere have definitely hit the nail on the head with that aim. It’s not just a game to play on your own either. Bonito Days can host up to four players, creating a wonderfully relaxing experience for friends, family or for a long awaited game night.
AUDIO AND GRAPHICS: A city pop soundscape
The colour palette of Bonito Days is absolutely gorgeous. It’s soft yet bright, and it really showcases the ’80s City Pop style Studio Somewhere were aiming to represent. Each level is drenched in colour. It truly is a game reminiscent of those bright summer evenings. Even in the frozen landscapes, it still feels warm. I find myself struggling to really describe the beauty of Bonito Days, but it feels like a warm hug. There’s so much character poured into this title, and that is really reflected by its appearance. It feels nostalgic even though this is the first time I have picked it up.
Nothing but nostalgia
The soundtrack is beyond comparison as well. A fun, eclectic array of anime-enthused beats. Each song has been produced solely for this game, making it a completely unique experience. Whilst some include lyrics and chants, others are lo-fi easy listens to laze around in the sun with. Some songs feature Japanese, which reminded me of sitting and watching cartoons as a kid, without a care in the world. Which is probably why this game feels so homely. It’s just relaxation after relaxation. There’s no tension or anxiety-inducing sounds, it’s just chill from start to finish.
The foley work is also inclusive of this childhood reminiscent vibe. Sound effects support your adventures and lead the way, whilst others celebrate managing to land perfectly on a target. There is one sound effect I particularly enjoyed. There’s a little woodwind tune that plays when levels are completed and it just fills me with joy. It is such a simple feature, but it tied my experience with Bonito Days up so nicely. I will definitely be coming back to this game time and time again. Especially when I miss those long Summer days.
This game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by Studio Somewhere.