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Air Zonk

Air Zonk (Jp: PC電人/補完○/クリア×En: PC Denjin Punkic Cyborg) is a side-scrolling shooter released for the PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 video game consoles in 1992 and was developed by Red Company and published by Hudson Soft. Air Zonk was an attempt to update the company's image via a modern, punkish character called Zonk, who bears a purposeful resemblance to the Turbo's caveman mascot, Bonk.

Although some consider the theme of this game (and corresponding main character) to be a knee-jerk reaction to the popularity of Sega's Sonic mascot, Air Zonk is widely considered to be an excellent shoot 'em up. The developers of this game, Red, were also the force behind the critically acclaimed Gate of Thunder series. Air Zonk features quirky protagonists, anthropomorphic enemies and bosses, and fantastical power-ups. Moreover, the game can be considered as being part of the Bonk series of games, as it features the same antagonist, King Drool, and many of the same enemies and artistic styles. It was followed by a sequel in 1993 called Super Air Zonk: Rockabilly Paradise for the Turbo Duo, which has been released on the Wii's Virtual Console

Gameplay

Air Zonk is similar to other scrolling shooters, but what sets it apart are the large number of power-ups and companion characters. The game is artistically light hearted and features humorous bosses, such as a sentient garbage heap and anthropomorphic boat. Gameplay involves both shooting and bombing. At the start, the player must pick a companion character to team up with to perform special attacks. Air Zonk takes on the distinct visual style that is sometimes called "cute 'em up". There are three difficulty levels: sweet, spicy, and bitter.

Weapons and powers

  • Default weapon – The default weapon is a small green projectile which has two different types of charge up attacks. The first, which occurs after the attack button is held for three seconds, will shoot a large green pixelated project. Once hitting a target, the attack will fan out into five smaller objects that can strike through multiple targets. The second charge-up attack, activated after holding for approximately seven seconds, is Zonk spitting out a large bomb which will explode causing a chain of large explosions, dealing heavy damage (it is a pink piece of feces in the Japanese version). As the missile initially falls down the screen, it can deal light damage to any enemies it hits along the way.
  • Melee attack – when an enemy flies behind Air Zonk, he will attack them automatically with his jet engine feet.
  • Small mode – shrinks Air Zonk making him harder to hit, and gives him an extra attack that aims, but not seeks, for the closest enemy. Zonk can still perform melee attacks, but cannot however perform any chargeup attacks.
  • Boxing Gloves – A pair of boxing gloves shoot across the screen and then back to Zonk, hitting enemies both ways, dealing heavy damage.
  • Deck of cards – This weapon is a light-damaging spread gun composed of various playing cards. In a charge-up attack, cards will fan out in multiple spirals emanating from Zonk.
  • Metal mandibles – One of the more peculiar weapons. Zonk shoots bear-trap like projectiles from his mouth with this weapon. When charged up, he detaches an enormous set of jaws for a few seconds that does cumulative damage to anything it touches.
  • Electricity gun – This weapon, which Zonk holds in his mouth, is a short range thin laser that deals heavy damage and can pierce multiple enemies. The charge-up attack is a forward-firing spread of yellow and purple shock rings.
  • Homing missiles – This small missiles will actively seek enemies. The charge-up attack shows the missile launcher becoming quite large and many more missiles are launched simultaneously.
  • Boomerangs – This weapon is several boomerangs that are fired linearly. The boomerangs travel approximately 2/3 of the screen before returning backward. They return, keeping on the same line as their initial launch trajectory, not back to Zonk. The charge-up attack is a wide three-pronged attack of large yellow projectiles, which do not return back.
  • Fake powerup – Like in the Bonk series of games, there are power-ups that are actually enemies in disguise. The fake powerups, designated by a blue coloring, will attack if the container is opened. The resulting enemies can absorb a surprisingly moderate amount of damage.

"Friends"

One of the main distinguishing elements of Air Zonk is the ability to use a friend in each level, who help out in attacking enemies and can also grant Air Zonk temporary invulnerability combined with a new special attack. Friends can be either automatically assigned, through a fixed order, or can be manually chosen before each level. Each friend can only be used once, and wear the Zonk-style shades to signify that they have been used prior. The friend shows up once a power-up showing a large smiley-face with sunglasses is obtained. The large power-up is triggered when approximately five small smiley faces are collected within a period of a few minutes. The friend will initially act as a Gradius-style option which follows the player around shooting a straight-forward, relatively weak projectile. If a second large smiley-face icon is collected, Air Zonk and the friend will combine into a hybrid form, granting a new attack and temporary invulnerability. However this will not occur if the friend is injured, indicated by white clouds of smoke coming from the friend's rear. If the friend is damaged, and a new icon is picked up, the friend will be repaired. It takes multiple hits for friends to be eliminated from the screen completely.

After the invulnerability wears off, the hybrid will be able to absorb three hits before reverting back to whichever weapon mode was in before the combination took place. In hybrid attack mode, Air Zonk cannot perform the melee foot-jet attack, charge up attacks, or utilize other weapons.

  • BOB (Jp:BALL): A baseball with some attitude.

Hybrid form – Air Zonk will turn into a baseball pitcher who will throw three baseballs in a row before winding up to pitch again. The baseballs do not deal heavy damage, but do travel through multiple enemies. The balls will initially fly straight and then curve either up or down.

  • Scud: A large missile named after the weapons system.

Hybrid form - Zonk is made to look more alien, with antennas sprouting from his forehead. Furthermore, his body consists of a metallic spaceship. The attack consists of eight energy waves, which emanate from the rear of the space craft and then move forward and fan out into a wide tri-shot configuration. The attack does moderate damage and can be fired repeatedly, but not rapidly.

  • Power Dump: A green dump truck with only two wheels.

Hybrid Form- Zonk fuses with PowerDump and losses a short range, but powerful, stream of fire.

  • Bubblican: A gumball machine that is a Magician; a portmanteau of "Bubble" and "Magician".

Hybrid form – Zonk will combine with Bubblican ... The attack consists of approximately 15 shots being fired simultaneously that track different enemies. The attack does very minimal damage to any particular target.

  • Spike Ree: A red and orange man with a spikey head.

Hybrid form – Zonk will combine into a figure resembling the body of Spike with the head of Zonk. Two sets of piranhas will emanate from the middle of the form and emanate out in vertically oriented "L" formations. The attack will hit through multiple targets, and hit an enemy multiple times depending on its size, which results in a heavy-hitting attack.

  • Ripp: A small dog-like creature who has one eyeball inside of his mouth.

Hybrid form - Zonk's head is grafted onto the body of Ripp. This form shoots large vertically oriented bubble letters of the word "BOW". This attack does above-average damage. The shot, once hitting a target, will reflect in a backwards 45 degree angle, either upwards or downwards. The shot can then again hit an enemy which will refract in the same way.

  • Mumbles: A female mummy with a large drill-bit for her head.
  • Astra: A small female magician holding a crystal ball with wings attached to her head. Her name refers to astrology.

Hybrid form - Similar to other forms, Zonk's head is grafted onto Astra's body. The attack consists of eight astrological symbols emanating from Zonk. The symbols stay for a few seconds, in a very tight radius. The symbols do moderate damage, but can hit targets multiple times. However, since there are a large gaps between the symbols and the attack is quite slow, it can be hard to hit enemies.

  • Moo Moo: A cross between a cow and a puffer fish which has no legs but only udders.

Hybrid form – Zonk will turn into a cow from the waist down and shoot bottles of milk. They fire completely straight and the canisters deal splash damage. When the canisters are "splashing", it is possible to hit multiple targets, although unlikely. The attack, due to the canisters' persistence upon impact, deal heavy damage.

  • Tojo: A portmanteau of "Toto" and "Dojo", this is a little dog that looks like a traditional Japanese building.

Hybrid form – Zonk will resemble a ninja in appearance wielding a fan. The fan projects miniature tornadoes which move in a circular pattern, similar to the fire gun from the original Contra run and gun by Konami.

Levels and bosses

  • Level 1: TOXY CITY–

Mid-boss – Anthropomorphic Battleship
End-boss – Anthropomorphic Battleship with a Magnet

  • Level 2: CYBER CITY–

Mid-boss – 3-Floor Flying Building with a different snake coming out from each floor
End-boss – Bouncing Trash Bag/Trash monster

  • Level 3: ROCKIN STADIUM–

Mid-boss – Robotic Hornet
End-boss – Football Robotic Hornet with Snakes/Football halves

  • Level 4: DEEP BLUE–

Mid-boss – Robotic Sea Creature
End-boss – Bubble Flower/Flower Satellite

  • Level 5: LAND OF DROOL–

Mid-boss – King Drool's 2 Cronies
End-boss – King Drool + Previous Bosses/ Grand Droolbot

Sequel

Air Zonk received a sequel in 1993 -- Super Air Zonk: Rockabilly Paradise (also known as CD Denjin Rockabilly), which was released in the SuperCD format. It requires the Super System Card to play, and is widely considered to be of lower quality as the graphics are made worse by the omission of parallax scrolling. As its name would imply, the game has a CD audio soundtrack consisting of rockabilly music. The game contains all new levels, assistants, and enemies.

Zonk: Mascot for TurboDuo video game console

The protagonist in this game, Zonk, is a cyborg version of Bonk--the mascot for NEC Corporation's TurboGrafx 16 video game console. When TTi released the DUO console (successor to TurboGrafx-16), Zonk was adopted as the official mascot. Zonk adorned nearly all of TTi's promotional material, and was even featured on the package art for the TurboDuo console.

Virtual Console

Air Zonk has made an appearance on the Wii's Virtual Console. It was released in May in Japan and July in America, and on July 13th in Europe. It has gained an E rating from the ESRB.

Trivia

  • Unlike most TG16 games, it did not come with a jewel case. Instead, it was packaged within a cardboard box with a plastic insert.
  • The name "Zonk" was found as part of a contest held by TTI. It was advertised in a mid 1992 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. The winner of the contest, a young American girl, received a grand prize of TTI products for naming Bonk's descendant.
  • The game's original title while in development was "Bonk's Thunder Shooting".

External links

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