Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Bonk's Revenge (TurboGrafx-16)

Bonk's Revenge title screen turbografx-16
At last I've finally gotten around to playing another requested game: Bonk's Revenge for the TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine, aka. PC Genjin 2.

This is the second in the Bonk/PC Genjin series of games, which were actually based around a character from comic in a PC Engine magazine (the name's a clever pun, see, as genjin means caveman). So this guy was basically Hudson's own Mario or Sonic, the mascot for their console. Though weirdly this is the first in the series to be exclusive to the system, as Bonk's Adventure came out on like four other formats. I played it for the site a couple of years ago on an Amiga, where it was called BC Kid just to confuse things even more for no good reason.

Damn, I usually play these games on medium difficulty (to compare them fairly and because I'm crap at them) but it seems if I do that here I'll be missing out a huge chunk of the game. Which is a bit shit really. Though I suppose I have to give them credit for telling me up front, instead of surprising me halfway through the game with a message explaining that I've been completely wasting my time on an unwinnable playthrough (fuck you Body Harvest!)

Oh shit, I was so distracted by the difficulty select that I didn't even notice that the moon's been blown in half! Maybe that was the twist ending to Bonk's Adventure that's gotten Bonk all fired up for revenge in this one. Probably not.

This is definitely a bit nicer to look at than the first game I reckon. It's more vivid, more detailed, and has significantly more butterflies. Though I'm noticeably lower on the screen for some reason, which is kind of annoying but I'm sure I'll cope somehow.

Wee baby Bonk's been given a bit of a visual upgrade between games as well, with bigger eyes, smaller ears, and an arm that doesn't look like it's growing out of his jaw. They haven't screwed around with how he moves around though. So far this feels like it's just more of the first game.

So, it's not going to scroll any further then? Well there's a ledge up there but I'm not seeing any platforms to get me up to it. Wow, I travelled half a screen across and I'm already stuck.

I wish I could say this was a new record for me, but the truth is I've done worse. I remember spending the entirety of one game post locked inside a cupboard.

Aha, Bonk can climb waterfalls in this one. Fortunately all these flowers washing down and butterflies hovering around are actually harmless. I could even go grab them if I was that bothered about getting 50 points. That monster with the white head is less harmless, but he's sleeping so I'll leave him be.

Shit, Bonk's been kidnapped by a flower! It's latched onto his head and it's carrying him into the sky, presumably to a nest. Fresh food for its seedlings. This is what I get for straying from the obvious path.

Oh, it was helpfully carrying me off into a bonus level. That'll teach me to let my anti-plant prejudice get the better of me.

Plus now I know these sleeping yellow flowers are called 'floret sprung' apparently, so I don't have to refer to them as 'bouncy yellow springy plants' anymore.

Woo, I totally fucked that up almost immediately. Still, I managed to grab enough fruit to refill my health bar at least. Back to where I left off in level 1 then.


Wow, what an asshole thing to stick at the end of the level: a boulder rolling in from off screen, almost literally at the finish line. No way was I ready to dodge that

Oh shit, the supersized meat pick-ups seem even spicier than in the last game. I'm not a doctor, but I'm concerned that the steam venting out from the holes in his cracked skull could mean permanent brain damage. Still, at least it gave me super powers! Level 2's been a straightforward stroll from left to right so far and now I can just charge right through like Mario with an invincibility star.

Man, I always hated these things in the first game: creepy negative bouncing plant monsters with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth that like to spring out of those sleeping flowers when you jump on them. Not so tough now that I'm invincible though! Let's see how he likes a face full of revenge.

Crap, my invincibility wore off; also my superpowers. Collecting one regular meat pick-up turns Bonk angry and gives him fireballs and a ground-slam stun move, collecting another gives him a butt for a head and fire breath. The giant piece of meat I found gave me both, but my powers fade pretty fast so their usefulness is fleeting.

This dinosaur asshole midboss can use his fire breath all day though and he's a good shot for a guy staring in two directions at once. The annoying thing is, I'm sure I could take him out easily if I could just get my falling headslam attack to consistently land on target. My aim is terrible though and when I screw up and hit empty floor Bonk is left as a sitting duck for a second while he recovers, while this guy stomps over to set my ass on fire.

At least now I've learned that losing a life doesn't kick me back to the start of the level. I could continue right where I left off during the boss fight.

Oh shit, first they stick a boulder at the end of a level, now they've put one right at the start! I expected it to stop when it reached that step and bounce off the other way but nope, this thing's rolling uphill.

Crap, I totally messed that jump up. I'm just glad lava isn't instant death in this.

I'm blaming this one on the game though, as I totally pressed the jump button and nothing happened. It's not the first time I've had this problem either.

Whoa, I found that midboss again as a regular enemy and just ran straight through him with super meat power; instant take-down. That'll teach him for trying to kill me. Though I guess he could have been just minding his own business, spending a lazy afternoon out by the lava flow arranging anachronistic junk food on top of his floating bricks, when suddenly I charged in out of nowhere on my roaring rampage of revenge and forced him to defend himself. Who knows?

Interestingly though, unlike the fruit, these fries and burgers don't actually restore any of my health. They're still making me hungry though.

This whole stage feels a fair bit anachronistic actually. I think these are supposed to be ruins, with modern day warning signs all over them, which is just weird really. Also those chocolate chip cookies raining down from the volcano are making me really hungry now.

A proper boss fight! This guy is a lot like the bosses in Bonk 1, in that he carries out his simple boss routine (in this case firing flaming choc chip cookies into the air for me to dodge) and I have to slam down onto his head when I get the opportunity. Bonk can't jump on enemies with his feet, but he can flips around 180 in the air to fall on them headfirst with his mighty skull.

Weirdly the boss dinosaurs in Bonk's Adventure would be freed from their mind control after a fight and would become your friend. In this they just flicker from existence all together. I guess these guys are just plain assholes then.

Well that went pretty well, except for how I fucked up halfway through the fight and lost my one remaining spare life. But hey it looks like I've reached Bonk's happy bonus lift! And I got nothing from it because I didn't collect enough yellow smilies along the way. Drat.

I wonder what the deal with that blue hiragana-face over there on the left. I get the feeling there's some secret message encoded into it, but I dunno.

I've reached stage 2-1 at last, which introduces these tiny piranha bastards that like to latch onto me if I fall in the water. But at least the water isn't instant kill and I even got a free fishy snack at the end of it, no strings attached. Oh no wait, there IS a string attached and it's pulling me up into... a regular enemy I can defeat just by jumping up into.

You know, I think I've finally figured out what these creatures are meant to be. I thought they were small dome-headed monsters at first, but they're actually newly hatched dinosaurs with half an eggshell stuck on their head! They're just innocent little dino babies! It seems that Bonk's thirst for revenge has driven him to send the dinosaurs to extinction: no survivors.

Oh come on fish, what did I ever do to you? Why you gotta jump up here and cause trouble, huh? Also why are these bubbles hurting me, that makes absolutely no sense. Was the thing swimming in concentrated acid or something?

Why are there spiky brick walls in a prehistoric forest, millions of years B.C.? Who even builds these things? Actually I've got a better question: why are these fish still leaping up after me? They come up from off screen, often through the floor and I'm given next to no chance to avoid the little bastards. It's kind of annoying when I'm climbing up a tree, trying to get my timing right to dodge these floating stone monster things drifting side to side, then suddenly random fish start shooting up from out of nowhere.

Fuck, I messed up a jump again. How do I keep accidentally walking off platforms in this?

Okay, I think I've figured it out. It seems I have to wait a moment after landing before I can jump again, so if I press the button too early nothing's gonna happen and he'll just stroll off the edge. I need to train myself to wait for the landing sound effect to play before hitting jump again. The game basically plays the same as Bonk 1, so I suppose I must have had the same issue in that as well, though I don't remember it bothering me there.

I have no idea how I managed to beat this stage two boss, I just kind of jumped around doing flips for a few seconds and he died. I barely even have an idea what it is; some kind of triceratops thing with eyes painted on his crest maybe? You know, I'd have even more health left over here if the bloody boss fight lift hadn't dropped me out onto spikes as I entered the room.

This time though I had collected enough smilies to reach a bonus room after the fight (or a bonus sail-train at least), where I evaporated my dino buddies to steal their heart and consume their meat.

Yay, stage three lets me bounce across shiny folded sky paper! Oh hang on, you think this might actually be meant to be the aurora borealis? Am I leaping across the northern lights here?


Man, I had a ridiculous amount of trouble getting Bonk onto this moving platform for some reason, especially as hitting the edges of it hurts him. I guess I've got nothing to blame for that really but myself. But I kinda need the next platform to come down here so I can jump on it and it just ain't playing along. Come on man, just slide down here already, I had enough trouble getting on this platform to begin with, don't make me take a leap of faith and end up having to climb back up and do it again.

Aha, it turns out the second platform only moves down AFTER I've jumped over to it, so I have to make sure to not overshoot something that won't even be there until I'm airborne. I guess it's a good job I got all that practice after all.

Damn, I was playing through this boss fight using the same winning strategy I tried for the last two but it just didn't work out. Burning through all my lives doing the same dumb thing over and over until I wear the boss down can only succeed when I have lives left to burn it seems.

Well at least I've got a few continues left.

Aww, it's put me all the way back at the start of stage 3-1, next to the pleated clouds. Oh I remember now, this is what made me quit Bonk 1.

But I'm more patient now than I was back then and I'm sure making my way back through these three levels won't take long. There's nothing really that frustrating in them that I'm dreading to replay, but nothing that interesting either. They're just kind of there, in my way.


Wow, now Bonk's harassing sunbathers at the beach and stealing their floating ice creams. Why do I get points for killing these dinosaurs anyway, they're just minding their own business.

Oh wait, it seems they're not so innocent after all. If they catch Bonk sneaking past, they latch on and start draining all his life with a kiss, like some kind of succubus. And annoyingly those cherries don't count as fruit it seems, so they don't restore health.

Hey, I've found another bonus level. Wait, let me get this straight, you want me to... bonk the radar towers? Bonk them until they break? Actually I think I'll just quit this now while I'm ahead.

To be completely brutally honest, Bonk's Revenge bored the shit out of me. It's slick, well made, it looks good, the music ranges from tolerable to catchy, but it seemed utterly resistant to my attention. I had to continually pause the game due to a sudden urgent need to do some housework, or browse the internet, or stare at the wallpaper etc. and I can't pin down why that is. I definitely didn't find much about it to whine about. Maybe I've just been worn down by all these games to the point where I can't find joy in a simple unspectacular early 90s platformer any more.

Well I suppose if they'd put in a world map and save games, that might have helped keep me hooked. Even if it was just to show me my progress and let me attack the game in sections instead of having to finish it off in one sitting, while my interest drips away with every new level.

Want to share your opinions about Bonk's Revenge, the Bonk games, other things halfway related in some way, or just want prove to the world that you're one of the few that made it to the bottom of this post? Feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Those are hiragana, not katakana.

    Anyway, I sort of feel the same about at least this episode of the series; it's nice, but it's not really memorable and even though the setting is somewhat original, it's just not that fun.

  2. Regarding that hiragana face:

    There's your fun cultural lesson for the day.

    1. Whoa, the secret of the hiragana face is revealed! I knew there must have been some explanation for it. Thanks for that.

  3. 'little innocent little dino babies'
    You said little twice! ~Evan the Grammar Nazi

    1. Thanks man.

      I just did a search for the word 'little' to verify it and it seemed to stop at every other line. Now I'm honestly trying to think back and remember if I meant it as some kind of running joke, or if I really didn't notice at the time that I described basically everything in the game as being little.

      I'll fix it anyway. Maybe I'll go crazy and fix all of them!


Semi-Random Game Box