Saturday, January 15, 2011

VGR Bonk 2

After a heckuva long time, I decided to finally go back to one of my earlier reviews and move on the sequel of Bonk!

VGR: PC Genjin 2 a.k.a. Bonk's Revenge
From Red Company / Hudson Soft
Played on PC Engine
Also available on Game Boy, Virtual Console & PlayStation Network

Type Sidescrollin' platformer
Year 1991

Only a year after the original game's release, Hudson didn't want Bonk to take a vacation, specially with a Sonic shaking the whole gaming market and the perception of mascots' role to establish a brand.

PC Genjin 2 was also made specifically for the PC Engine system. Red was back as developers behind the Pithecanthropus Computerurus. This time, they got a better handle of the console's hardware and could start playing around a bit with the graphics (where Bonk 1 was pretty simplistic in tone and used a limited color palette).

Now, about the "plot"...

I admit it, I just luuuuuv drawing Bonk!

Bonk is back, with a revenge!
Half of the moon was stolen! Yeah, the Evil King Drool has decided to go on full-evil mad scientist this time!

Bonk will have to travel all around the Dinosaur Kingdom to find were the pieces are guarded, defeat Drool's various "generals" and put back the moon in one piece!
Just that.

All in a day's work!

PC Genjin 2, game-wise, was built around what the first game already was, and tried improving over all of its aspects.

Bonk still controls the same. Button 1 to jump, Button 2 to bonk!
We can play around with these two abilities to either make Bonk slam his head violently on the ground, try to hover for short distances, juggle defeated enemies, bounce from enemy to enemy, etc..
Bonk can also use some other extra-abilities from the original game as well as new techniques.
He can still climb walls with his teeth, his TEETH, man!!
Oh, and he can climb a waterfall like salmon, no kiddin'.
And many more neat little tricks that will help Bonk survive in these dangerous prehistoric times.

Bonk's dino minions come now to life in all sorts of forms!

On the visual side, it has all been improved since the first one.

The game now sports a better richer color palette.
After getting their hands on the PC Engine hardware in the first game, they were able to play around with tricks and techniques making this game a better rival to other games of that era. ('91 platformers)
Bonk isn't as red-ysh as he was in Bonk 1, now he is more pink-ysh with a nice brown coloring for his clothes.
The sprites are all quite cartoony, even expressive.
They all have a lot of various animations.
The backgrounds also aren't as simple as they were in the first game (single color backdrops) but now are quite rich featuring trees, volcanoes, animations, effects (in the volcano/hot segments), little darker shades near the ground, northern lights in sky, etc...

The best upgrade has been on the enemy's side.
We still confront various brainwashed dinos by King Drool with Egg Shells(TM).  But now they all come to life with a ton of variations in their sprites.
You'll often find them playing around, sleeping, fishingm, wearing scarfs making snowmen...and they also come in all sorts of genres; Hunting/Safari fashion, wearing spelunker clothes, with climbing gear...etc!
A precursor of what the more famous apes from Ape Escape would do years later?

Bonk - Transformation, GO!!

Bonk's gimmick, apart from his headbonking around, is his transformations.
Remember the first game's mechanic?
Well, it's still mostly the same..
Bonk uses food to replenish his health.
Small items restore his hearts. A huge piece of meat will upgrade Bonk into his fully-powerful invincible form or his intermediary girly form. (the middle zoku-form has been scrapped)
They've been a bit tweaked around.
The invicible form loses its invicible aura after a while. It shakes the level around, can destory everything on its path and shoot fire from his mouth.
The girl form can now projects hearts and uses an heart-shapped super-aura while headbonking the ground.
Basically, it's a bit stronger compared to what it was in Bonk 1, to balance out both super-form stats.

This time the boss are full-time King Drool employees, no more brainwashed nice dinos!

Bonk will have to travel all over the island to retrieve the pieces of the moon and defeat various mid-bosses and bosses.
King Drool is back as the final epic boss.

On the island you'll go through a lot more varied places than last time, and using more distinct level design, such as a forest, jungles, the beach, snowy mountains, volcanic caves, a giant battleship... until Bonk arrives in King Drool's domain. There he'll be able to find the rest of the moon... put back as part of his royal pyramide!!
All over 7 Rounds, pretty long enough and containing several "screens".
At the end, in the pyramide, all the bosses (!!) will need to be faced again!
(which doesn't come as a surprise since mid-bosses will also appear in-levels, weaker of course)

Bonk still collects smiley-items as currency.
Also the bonus stages are back, although less original than last time. This time it's more basic, collecting items falling from the sky/without falling off the stage/etc.. It doesn't play as much with the game's concept and premises. (Bonk one offered "baseball", comets-ricochet, etc..)

All in all, it's another exemple of a perfect sequel.
Keeping the original as basis, improving every aspect of it (the music is even more catchy this time and a bit more memorable than Bonk 1's soundtrack honestly) and offering more new and interesting challengs!

Overall, it's a great sequel!
Fun without being too easy, funny without ending up without charm, not too long not too short.
Not too difficult either.
It's quite simple to go through this one without losing to many lives (apart when the game will throw a new enemy/pattern at ya!)

A great platformer of the 8/16-bit era.
And for an 8-bit game, it doesn't have to shy away amongst 16-bit of that tme, it looks decent enough!
I've seen worse SNES/MD games from the platformer-craze of the 90s!

I personally prefered it over Bonk 1, and it's only sad that the PC Engine was totally overseen back then.
Gems such as the Bonk series truly shined as some of the system's best (perhaps not the more original...), and we didn't even scratch the surface of the PC Engine's greatest titles.

Anyway, it's easy to get your hands on nowadays, with digital re-releases.
Give it a try, specially if you like retro-gaming/platformers!
However avoid the Game Boy port, not done by Red! It's a mess, mixes around elements from Bonk 1 & 2 with a less inspired level designed (which was sort-of adapted).

I give it:

2.5 / 3 Bruces!

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