Tag Archives: you’ll believe a dinosaur can get high

FGC #413 Bonk’s Revenge

It's Bonk timeI don’t understand Bonk.

Like many issues in our modern world, this appears to be a problem of education. I was a Nintendo kid that eventually picked up a few Sega games (who could say no to that hedgehog?). I consumed Nintendo Power like it was (the secret of) manna from Heaven, and knew nearly everything about every release for a Nintendo console straight through to the 21st Century. Sega was not going to take that kind of thing lying down, though, so the minute there was a hot new Sega Genesis title on the horizon, the advertising machines clicked into high gear, and everyone was inflicted with a deluge of information on blast processing or lock-on technology. And nobody cared! Sure, it was practically mind control aimed squarely at children who could scream at their parents until “Santa” decided to deliver a bevy of plastic cartridges, but it wasn’t all bad. After all, even if you couldn’t afford an $80 copy of the latest Street Fighter, at least you could read all those character profiles, and imagine the nefarious origins of that dude in the purple robes.

And then there was the TurboGrafx-16. I’ve got one of those puppies sitting right here in my gaming room, and I’m still not completely sure it was a real thing.

Going up?Let’s see here… Wikipedia claims that the TurboGrafx-16 was first unleashed upon the West in August of 1989, and was a living, breathing videogame console through 1994. I played videogames during that time! I played some of my most favorite videogames during that epoch! Yet, I can barely recall the TG16 being even the remotest of factors in the “console wars” of the early 90’s. Did the TG16… uh… do anything? Oh, it was the first console to have a CD-reading add-on? Well that seems pretty important. It was produced by Hudson, which is certainly a videogame company I’m familiar with. And its games look… uh… kind of pretty. Like, maybe early Sega Genesis, and a lot better than what was available on the NES. Yes, it appears that the TurboGrafx-16 should have been an integral part of early 90’s gaming, but… seems like a certain system managed to miss the boat.

Which means I missed the Bonk Boat.

Bonk was, for a time, the mascot for the TurboGrafx-16. There was Mario on the Nintendo, Sonic on the Sega, and that doofy caveman with the giant head over in TG16 land. So I was at least aware of Bonk. And, given the caveman aesthetic, I was pretty sure I knew everything I ever needed to know about the lil’ dude. He’s got a big head. He fights dinosaurs. He “bonks” dinosaurs with his big head. Occasionally he eats meat, and he goes from happy to angry to atomic. Sometimes he turns into a crab.

… Wait. What was that last part?

To briefly revisit something that has been established on this very site many times before, videogames are weird, y’all. Sonic is a blue hedgehog, and it’s completely normal that he collects rings for power while fighting an egg-shaped mad scientist. Elsewhere, the real hero’s little brother uses a vacuum to exterminate the undead from his recently inherited mansion. A vampire with a gun employs a magical rock to summon a dragon to shoot lasers at angry, sentient houses. Even our modern, “mature” videogames are full of ridiculous, reality-defying nonsense, like a man who can soak extra bullets because he’s more muscular than the other dudes, or dining room chairs that inexplicably provide more potent cover than lead shields.Chilly out there One way or another, we just accept videogame weirdness for what it is, and move on. The Prince of Persia can run up and down vertical walls with ease, and an armor clad space bounty hunter can scale walls through dutiful triangle jumping. Makes perfect sense!

But Bonk is different. Or… it could be? This game is Bonk’s Revenge, which, according to upwards of 28 seconds of research (I’ve been busy lately, okay!?) is one of (in not the) best Bonk titles. It’s also a sequel, which means we are continuing the canon that was dutifully laid forth in the original Bonk’s Adventure. So there’s probably a basis for all of this. I came in late, no need to complain about not knowing who this Captain America guy is; this was probably all explained sometime in the past. There is doubtless a logical explanation for… I’m sorry, this whole crab thing is still getting to me.

According to only what happens in this game (and not any auxiliary materials, like an instruction manual or the inevitable Bonk Wiki), the story of Bonk’s Revenge features an evil T-Rex king splitting the moon (or just “a moon”?) in half, and apparently using that half of the moon to build some manner of dinosaur Death Star (in typing that, I just realized how badly I want Star Wars to be remade with dinosaur space wizards). Bonk ventures forth to reclaim that chunk of the moon, and, should he succeed, he is kissed by a grateful, apparently benevolent dinosaur that lives on the moon (?). As previously noted, Bonk can obtain meat to powerup to more deadly forms, and he can collect happy faces that will unlock train rides at the end of stages that can provide further bonuses. And, when he finally enters the Dino Star at the end of his adventure, unmarked underwater blocks may squish Bonk into a crab form. He becomes Crab Bonk, which is advantageous for… some reason?

And… I just can’t deal with Crab Bonk.

WeeeeeBonk would eventually show up on the Super Nintendo, presumably because Johnny Turbo stole his gig advertising the TG16. In that title, Super Bonk, Bonk would be able to eat meat to transform into a giant chicken or Godzilla. Strangely enough, science eventually taught us that this is exactly how evolution works, so that powerup transition makes perfect sense. But Crab Bonk? I have no idea what is happening with Crab Bonk, and it bothers me to no end. Is this a frog suit-like water-based powerup? A Wario Land-esque punishment? Some kind of Japanese running gag about dinosaurs turning cavemen into crustaceans? What is even happening in this game!? I could understand the brontosaurus ballerina that finished out the third stage, but Crab Bonk is blowing my mind! Please, TurboGrafx-16 Power, tell me what the hell is happening here!

But I missed the TG16, so I will never understand poor, forgotten Bonk.

Trying to understand Bonk after the fact is like banging your head against a wall.

FGC #413 Bonk’s Revenge

  • System: This is one of my few TurboGrafx-16 games, so it certainly gets a check in that column. It was also released on the Wii Virtual Console, and the Sony and Microsoft download services in Japan. There was also a Gameboy version, but that was a severely compromised port.
  • Number of players: The TG16 only had one controller port. That seems really shortsighted!
  • The Benefits of Bonk: If Bonk has one defining characteristic, it’s that, in a time well before “visual storytelling” was a thing in videogames, Bonk admirably tells his story with a sort of Looney Tunes-esque flare. Dude is a cartoon character in every conceivable way, and, right about the time he chomps onto a fishing line held by an enemy, you know something special is happening.
  • That Looks Like it Hurts: Bonk’s other big ability is climbing walls… through biting his way up vertical shafts. Gogglebob.com would like to note that this is a terrible idea, and, if you are worried about tooth decay, please do not try that at home.
  • Favorite Boss: There’s a dinosaur pirate riding a flying ship that launches torpedoes through the sky. That’s pretty hard to beat. I mean… he is the coolest boss, but, yes, he is also literally kind of hard to beat.
  • Did you know? Bonk’s Revenge for the Gameboy was a Super Gameboy title, and its unique Super Gameboy frame featured the generic mooks of the title sitting and watching the game as if watching a play. I’m going to go ahead and claim that Paper Mario totally stole this gimmick.
  • Would I play again: This is definitely the game I’m playing if I fire up the TurboGrafx-16 again. Then again, I only own four TG16 games, so that’s not saying much…

What’s next? Oh yeah, I promised a theme week, didn’t I? Well, how about we call this… um… Inexplicable 16-Bit Cavemen Week! Yes! That’s right! No Caveman Games! No Far Cry Primal! Just cavemen, and just cavemen from the 16-bit era! That makes perfect sense! So next we’ll be hitting Joe & Mac! They’re cavemen ninja! Please look forward to it!

Gulp

FGC #278 Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus

Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus is an abysmal platforming game for the SNES. It has floaty controls, terrible stage design, and, despite having the entire prehistoric period to draw upon, populates its lousy levels with the least interesting group of sad little wannabe mascots this side of the last Sunsoft release. BtB is an awful game, but I can’t completely fault it, because it’s trying to help kids with asthma. Mind you, it’s not doing a very good job at that either, but sometimes it’s enough to see your malady, disability, or just plain “otherness” normalized. Superman and Batman don’t have asthma, but Bronkie does, and he manages to (ineptly) save his planet. It’s okay to have asthma! You can still do anything! Videogames told me so!

Which brings us to the sad, true topic of today’s post. Gentle readers, I think it’s time you knew the truth. I, Goggle Bob, have a disability.

I am left-handed.

It’s very difficult to be left-handed. The world is made for the right-handed, and even the most basic of tools are often aimed at the more dominant majority. Everyone knows about the trials of using the “wrong” kind of scissors, but have you ever had the pleasure of using a right-handed gravy ladle in your left hand? It makes properly pouring sauces impossible, and, as someone that subsists almost entirely on gravy, there is something distinctly dehumanizing about being denied even the most basic of (animal fat-soaked) meals. And then there’s the whole mentor thing: want to learn how to properly hit the ball or play guitar? Sorry, you’re going to spend the next couple of years trying to find just one experienced lefty for tutoring, and by the time that quest is complete, you won’t even remember why you started in the first place (reminder to self: it was to pick up chicks). Being left-handed is hard!

ArghBut there is hope. There are many famous and successful left-handed people. Oprah? Left-handed. Bill Gates? Left-handed. Clinton, Bush, Obama? Lefty, lefty, lefty. There are even some excellent, unexpected left-handed idols throughout history; we’ve got Hendrix, Van Gough, Curie, and Aristotle. Nietzsche slayed God with his left hand, and Napoleon changed European road safety forever with his left paw. And there are great fictional lefties in entertainment, too, like John McClane, Rocky, Arya Stark, Fluttershy, and half the Simpsons cast. They might not be local, but it’s not hard to find a lefty to look up to somewhere in the world, whether it be reality or fiction.

Well, except maybe in videogames.

The first videogame I really remember noting a character’s dominant hand is Final Fantasy 4. Most of the characters in that adventure are right-handed, but one of the earliest introduced warriors is Kain Highwind, a left-handed dragoon. That’s cool! He can jump and fly and wears awesome armor and… oh, wait, he’s a traitor. Twice. He’s endangering the world exclusively so he can make out with his best friend’s girlfriend, and, incidentally, he’s left-handed. FEARSo we’re back to lefty equals evil? Wow, how progressive, Square. How about Final Fantasy 4: The After Years? That game introduced about 10,000 new, original, useless characters whom we must pilfer, anybody new to the playable cast a lefty? Yep! We’ve got… Golbez. The other guy that spent all of Final Fantasy 4 trying to destroy the world. Boo, Final Fantasy 4. Boo.

Of course, there are some of you that are likely champing at the bit to smack that comment button and inform this lefty that I’ve missed the most prominent left-handed videogame character of all time: Link of The Legend of Zelda. And, a few years ago, I would have been right there with you: Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, Zelda, and Olimar, is left-handed, and, presumably in a bout of narcissism, made Link, the hero of Hyrule, a lefty as well. And that tradition continued with aplomb until Twilight Princess, when the “sword hand” matched the player’s right wiimote, and Link was transformed into a righty. However, this switch also caused all of Hyrule to become mirrored for the length of Link’s adventure, so it was kind of forgiven. This is just bizarro Hyrule, nothing unusual about that, of course Link is a righty in this world. But then it happened again in Skyward Sword, and the world didn’t even flip that time. First Link in Hyrule recorded history, and he’s a righty for some reason. And then we got Breath of the Wild, and now he’s right-handed again, and there’s not a wiimote/motion control excuse, he’s just, ya know, right-handed, like normal people. But don’t worry, lefties! Hyrule Warriors introduced an all-new left-handed character to compensate: Cia, the evil twin that is trying to take over the world so she can get laid! Yay! Another shining example of the menacing left!

BAMThough it’s interesting that Hyrule Warriors, with a properly left-handed Link and Cia, allows for an actual lefty vs. lefty battle. That hardly ever happens, as, if you’ve got one (likely evil) left-handed character on the roster, you don’t need any more diversity hires. As an easy example, Soda Popinski is the one southpaw boxer in Punch-Out, so we don’t need another one (even though Little Mac is clearly based on lefty Rocky). And that one lefty is usually meant to be an evil twin of the more virtuous, right-handed hero. A right hand grips the Buster Sword, but the Masamune is firmly grasped only in the left (thanks again, Final Fantasy!). But there is one franchise that occasionally allows two lefties to be seen on the same stage: Soulcalibur. Here, we have both the villainous Nightmare and the villainous Raphael using their left… Wait, dammit… There are like sixty heroes and seven bad guys in that series, and our only two left-handed characters are both evil? Argh…

There are heroic lefties, of course. We’ve got sometimes Link. We’ve got box-art Crono. We’ve got Dunban of Xenoblade… who is only using his left hand because his right arm has been effectively destroyed through right-handed heroism. Um… huh. So you’re either evil, or it’s a handicap? Wonderful. Being left-handed is wonderful.

We got any other left-handed heroes lying around here?

Nero, the bastard of the franchise

You bastard! You destroyed the franchise and made me play the same stupid game twice!

So ya know what? You got asthma? That sucks, and I feel for ya. But at least you got a pair of platforming dinosaurs to make you feel better. The best us lefties ever got was an elf that got promoted to right-handedness when he got popular.

Hey, gaming, I’m saluting you with my left hand right now, but I’m only using one finger.

FGC #278 Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus

  • System: Super Nintendo. Maybe we can put together a petition to get this one on the Virtual Console. I’m sure we’d be able to get a whole six signatures.
  • Number of players: The headlining dinosaur is actually part of a duo. You have the choice between Bronkie and Trakie the Triceratops. I’m assuming Trakie is supposed to be female, but I’m dinosaur-racist, so I can’t really tell the difference between a boy lizard and a girl lizard.
  • Wanna get high? Seriously, there’s no other explanation for what is happening here:

    Dude

    Is this what the cool kids call vaping?

  • Pedantry Corner: Yes, I am aware Palom of Final Fantasy 4 is also left-handed. However, I’m not exactly aware which one of the twins, Palom or Porom, is actually Palom. And that’s the problem.
  • Back to Bronkie: Every stage contains at least two trivia questions about asthma. I’m pretty sure some of the “wrong” answers could lead to dead kids… and those wrong answers might wind up sticking in young minds… so maybe this game isn’t the best thing for children.
  • Did you know? Wavequest produced this game for children with asthma, but it also created Packy and Marlon, a game for kids with diabetes. And the stars of that game are elephants. I… feel like that is maybe a subtle insult.
  • Would I play again? Absolutely not. Reread the first paragraph for more details, but this game is so boring, it’s sinister.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Walking Dead by Telltale Games! Time for decisions, zombies, and decisions about zombies. Please look forward to it!

NOOOOO