Thursday, April 22, 2010

VGR Bonk 1

Here's a game I really like, a underrated cult favorite of mine.
Despite it being almost forgotten nowadays, I consider it as one of the nicest 2D old school platformer!
The sequels are kinda better, but that's for another review another time!

The system is known as the TurboGrafx-16 in the USA but I always use the official names or international names in my reviews!

PS: YEAH! I know there's a new BONK 2,5D game coming on Xbox live. But THIS is about the first, the original Bonk!

Edit29/12/2010: Edited this old review with my current template, instead of the huge jpg picture I previously had... 

VGR: PC Genjin a.k.a. Bonk's Adventure
From Red Company/Hudson Soft
Played on PC Engine
Also available on NES, Game Boy, Amiga, Virtual Console, PlayStation Network & Arcade Console and remake available on Gamecube & PS2.

Type Sidescrollin' platformer
Year 1990

First, quick informations about the PC Engine!

In the late 8-bit era, japanese developer Hudson Soft (known for the Bomberman series mostly) joined the Japano-American Company NEC to create their own system, which is known today as the "PC Engine".
(TurboGrafx in the usa).

Like all the other companies, they decided to create an icon to represent them, their very own mascot and
not recycle Hudson's Bomberman. Thus was born the "Bonk" series!

The very first Bonk game was released for the first model of PC Engine system as an "HuCard"
(the system would have a 16-bits revision later, supporting CD games, better music quality and more colors on screen).

I always play this game on a "PC Engine Duo" which is the japanese equivalent of a TurboDuo. A combo of the PC Engine HuCard & CD systems.

Now, on the game itself:

The original name of this game is "PC-Genjin". It's a pun on "PC Engine", genjin meaning barbarian.
Our heroic character, Bonk, is a prehistoric kid, or as they call him, a "Pithecanthropus Computerus".
Sometimes he's also called P.C. Kid for short!

It's a very straighforward kind of old school 2D platformer.

But it has his own gimmicks too which makes it quite interesting!

Bonk's role is to save a reptilian princess from the evil King Drool. He is trying to conquer the dinosaur kingdom manipulating other reptiles with brain-washing egg shells!!

 Actual game plot represented on picture.

Sounds pretty much like any other platformer, right?
You'll travel through several worlds divided in smaller levels with a unique boss at the end.
Once you find the boss' gate, face him, understand his technique and patterns, break the evil king's control and help them!

Die too much time, use a continue and you'll have to start from the beginning of its world!

Simple. A bit unoriginal maybe... but the game gets better in its most important aspect...
The gameplay!

Ready? Bonk defeats his enemies...with his head!

You get it? "BONKING"! and it's pure genius when it's in action!

Some enemies will take more damages... but you can hit them twice or more times!

You can keep them in the air, juggle them around... you can hit all sorts of stuff with your head as well!

You also have all sorts of other movements.

Bonking many times in the air you can sorta float for a while. You can grab walls simply with your teeth!He's a pretty strong little caveman! Nothing stops bonk!!

He kinda reminds me of this sort of more popular similar game "Chuck rock" from the 16-bit era.
But PC Genjin truly shines in it's basic platforming and unique gameplay. :D

You obtain score with "smileys" dropped out of enemies.
The smileys replace the usual rings or coins currency you would have in Sonic or Mario games.
For your health you'll have to eat food dropped from enemies too and various prehistoric flowers found in the levels. Some flowers will hide other surprises insides...

There are bonus stages.
They will have you try using Bonk's unique gameplay in every unusual way.
"Bonking" lava rocks away, "floating" to obtain food items, "climbing" the highest you can... this will help you win you extra lives or continues...

And you'll need all the extra help you can to finish this pretty difficult platformer!

In a similar way to Mario, Bonk can transform into different super forms.

With huge meat pieces come greater powers! (huh...what?? lemme explain!)

Eating a huge piece of meat will boost Bonk's confidence and strengh, he'll go rampage and be invicible for a while. When he'll calm down, he'll be strong enough to break stuff and take a hit without losing any hearth.
then he will drop into his last form, girly Bonk... after that you're back to normal bonk who can't take damage without losing health.
Some smaller meat will boost you into a post invincible state (strong or girly bonk).
I'll try to explain it to you with this kickass graphic!

Overall, it's a very nice platformer, one of Hudson's unsung heroes... :/

Really underrated. Most kids nowadays won't know anything about it, but already back in the day he  was ignored because of the other more mainstream titles (you know me, -if not- I always go for the underdogs and love these sort of hidden gems more than the uber popular stuff).

Bonk can seem quite strange at first, and seems less polished than any Mario or Sonic, but it's the kind of game that really grows on you. It's also quite difficult, beating a boss or reaching a later level will take you time, but that was pretty common back in the day, before games got easier and full of tutorials for everything.
You know what I'm talkin' about!

The game uses a very limited color palette (even more than most PC Engine titles), it isn't the system's fault, other games (and even Bonk's sequel) are way more colorful. But if you ignore it simplistic approach, can see past that or embrace it's retro feel you will love it!
(I'll talk about the sequels another time)

Nice game, sadly not very well-known. there was also a later SNES series which aren't the same as the PC Engine originals.
The game has been released for virtual console and the likes if you, like most the rest of the world, don't own a PC Engine...
Back then, a pretty decent Nes port was also officially done as well as a Game Boy port which took elements from the sequel and mixed up a bit the level design. And in Europe there was another port, the best version as fans put it, on the Amiga which was quite popular in many countries. This version ended up being a complete graphic remake with better sprites, more colors and better sound effects.

I give it:

2.5 / 3 Bruce!

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