Bonga Online is a new simulation game on Facebook centering on a family starting a new life in an uninhabited island of Bonga. As the spirit of the paradise isle, you will assist the couple and their newly born child to cope with their adventure and live contentedly there.
Bonga Online preludes with a story of a couple eloping from their clans being feud many moons old. Across the sea, they arrive at the island of Bonga and begin to settle down with the birth of a girl. Shake pineapple trees and get fallen fruit to fill the crying stomach, collect bamboos and gather leaves to build a primitive hut, and labor in the land to develop a self-supplying home.
In the game you loosely control the two and a half laborers by assigning work for them. From the humble tasks that keep your Bongies fed and sheltered, you will lead them to a better life with recreation, affluence and production. They can eat pineapples to keep energetic, but they can make better food like fruit salad or mixed fruit cocktail that keep them more satisfied when the kitchen is built; they have tons of work to do but they also need to have some leisure to keep life more than pure toil and tedium, which come from the various happiness-generating structures like Sunbed, Trampoline and Piano; and they won’t stay satisfied with the basic survival but pursue a more civilized life by making a variety of tools and products from pottery and bowls to tablewear and roofing tiles.
Gathering materials, constructing buildings and making products are the three major acts to achieve the goal. And they are closely linked by the assembly line. You gather leaves from trees, for instance, dry them in the rack to get fiber, then weave fiber into ropes in the Spinning Wheel, and finally use ropes and bamboos collected from forest to make mats. Every product comes in a hard way. Energy and time are the essence of all labor. Your Bongies can work only when they have the strength, so they need constantly eat for recharge; and almost every action – gather, shake, sacrifice, chop, produce, build, etc. – takes time to complete, if not boosted by using Shells, the hard currency that can be earned in small amount by playing with purchasable packs in the in-game shop.
The game pace is slower than most simulators out there and a little annoying with its many short span of waiting time that basically requires your presence to keep your laborers active but also involves some stare-at-the-paint-to-dry moments from time to time. There is an Energy system, which doesn’t work the usual way though. The aforementioned actions take time but not energy; instead, the energy is mainly charged for entertainment which keeps the hard-working Bongies happy and content and Magical stuff such as summoning Tornado (for windfall) or casting the spell of Beam of Satiety (allowing Bongies to carry out a certain amount of tasks). Energy will auto refill over time; or it can be immediately recharged to full with Shells.
Bonga Online monetizes mainly through Shells that can be used in many aspects. You can use them to instantly finish a task, refill the energy, replace the missing materials, or purchase various exclusive premium items that offer great advantages like Amulet of Wisdom (that double your EXP), Baby Food (that nourish small Bongies) and Obsidian Torch (that keeps trees warm in winter) in the market.
Build the island and reach out to further realm – while the core of simulation remains more or less the way we are familiar with, the game stands out from the crowd with something unique. It has original graphics and sound effects as well as vivid animation – you see your bongies plow the ground, clear dust in front of the ancestral totem or conduct the activities you assign while hearing their foreign babbling in doing so – which combine to work this tropical world to grow in you. As you make progress, you can not only expand the energy bar but also upgrade your bongies to become stronger and learn various skills bringing in different benefits. The designs in details make it more attractive: Bongie kids won’t take heavy work but will help parents transport materials that bury on earth or stored in facilities to the right workhouse by towing them instead of carrying over the shoulder, for example. Moreover, the social integration is friendly and lenient. It has the gentle tip about inviting friends but doesn’t force you to do so, and it allows you to play with friends in other ways from cooking together in collective kitchen to win rewards together to taking care of each other’s garden beyond the simple gifting.
To sum up, Bonga Online builds on the solid simulation basis and lifts itself above the familiar experience with its polished graphics, brand new details and considerate social integration. Innovative it is not, it deserves a recommendation for its freshness.