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Air Zonk

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Released: 1992

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: PC Eng/Turbografx-16

Publisher: Hudson

Developer: Red

Submitted by: Lee Tatlock

Being a massive fan of a good Bonk, both the game series and the act, I thought I’d follow up my review of Bonk’s Revenge with a tight and masterful review of Air Zonk, an offshoot from the Bonk series where you take control of a futuristic looking Bonk called Zonk (‘cause Z’s more futuristic you see.) The premise is mad as a skeleton covered in piccalilli and the game is as colourful as an acid trip on a play bus.

This time instead of using your huge dome to clout some eyebrows off you’ll be ditching terra firma and your melee attacks for open air (hence the ‘Air’ in Air Zonk’) and bullets, lasers and other crazy looking projectiles. Following along the same mental tracks left behind by titles like the awesome Parodius this is multicoloured, cartoon, shmup, mayhem at its very best. As usual you eat some meat and you’ll be powered up to the Nth degree and be peeling wigs faster than you can say… well… Zonk! Shifting from his decidedly lo-fi beginnings as a cave dweller to a futuristic shooting star also means a new power up system is in play, next to the standard meat chomping you can pick one of Zonk’s madcap friends as a side kick at the beginning of each level and these enhance your powers even further. Collect enough smiley face pick ups and you’ll soon be merged with your sidekick into some of the most ridiculous and hilarious mutated forms ever seen in a video game: from doggy Zonk with a bark more deadly than his bite and a weird bloated cow monstrosity no one could ever accuse Air Zonk of being a middle of the road shooter with typical seen-it-all-before mechanics and graphic.

Although a strict departure from the Bonk series this badboy has brought with it all the zany humour, addictive gameplay and bold graphical style of its landlocked brethren, and if you’ve already beaten Parodious more times than you can count this should be your next port of call. Super dooper.