Air Zonk, named PC Denjin Punkic Cyborg in Japan, was a side scrolling
shooter game. It served as an unlikely and unusual sequel to the prior Bonk
games from Hudson
that were successful on the TurboGrafx-16
. The game was developed by Red Company
and provided an update to the popular boy-caveman character Bonk. For this game Bonk was renamed Air Zonk and converted into a more punk rock, modern and contemporary style. The result was this game's punk rock cyborg character sporting sun glasses and a mohawk. The game even uses the same villian from the Bonk series, King Drool
Red Company and Hudson Soft decided instead of creating a direct sequel to the Bonk games' popular platformer gameplay, Air Zonk would be a side-scrolling shooter game. Side-scrolling shooters being almost equally popular as platformers in the early nineties video game era. Air Zonk's art style was somewhat distinctive in the shooter category at the time, using cute cartoon like graphics, in a very similar manner as presented in the earlier Bonk games. The game is recognized by most as what would be called a "Cute 'Em Up," a cuter art style version of a typical "Shoot 'Em Up." Other games in this "Cute 'Em Up" style of the period included Parodius
Air Zonk was originally released on November 20, 1992 in North America.
Air Zonk resulted being a side scrolling action shooter games with several unique gameplay elements that seperate it from the glut of shooters that existed on the TurboGrafx-16 and other consoles of the time. The game included the use of assistants to the game's main character Air Zonk and also several unique power ups throughout the game. The game has three difficulty levels that it names humurously as sweet for easy, spicy for normal and bitter for hard.
Players would chose an assistant companion character at the onset of the game and then chose one of these friends for each subsequent level, or friends can be autamatically assigned in a particular order. Friends can only be used once through the course of the game. Friends are enabled by collecting five smiley faces, as were used in the Bonk games, and then collecting a large super smiley face. Ince enabled companions assist Air Zonk by attacking enemies along side the player and granting special attacks and invulnerability. If a second super smiley face is collected and Air Zonk's companion friend is unharmed, Air Zonk and the friend transform into a strange combined form with even stronger attacks and invulnerability. For example, one combined form has Air Zonk don a torpedo bra a la Madonna that actually shoots missles.
Air Zonk was awarded the best TurboGrafx-16 game of 1992 by EGM.
Air Zonk was adopted as the mascot for the TurboDuo video game console, the followup to the TurboGrafx-16 released by Turbo Technologies, Inc.
(TTi) in the USA.
Air Zonk did receive a sequel game named Super Air Zonk: Rockabilly Paradise
(CD Denjin Rockabilly in Japan) for the SuperCD format used on the TurboDuo console. Most critics and players considered the Supwer Air Zonk sequel to be sub-par and not as good as the first game due to the lack of parallax scrolling
in the game.
The original game has been rereleased on Nintendo's Wii Virtual Console in 2009 in Japan, North America and Europe.