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Leeroy ST

Did NEC make the wrong decision by making Bonk their mascot?

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Don't get me wrong I like me some Bonk, but I think that trying to push Bonk to be the "face" of the PC Engine/Turbografx-16/Hudson/NEC's gaming division may have been a major mistake, particularly for success outside of Japan. Even within Japan it didn't have the best long-term prospects and it didn't help the first Bonk game came out two years after launch there.

 

Look at the early line-up for the T16, China Warrior, a fun action beat-emup with (then) massive large detailed sprites beating the crap out of anything any previous console could do, and as a bonus it was clearly based on popular martial artist Bruce Lee. While mixed on if it would be a good image long-term, it DEFINITELY should have been promoted more and considered to be packed-in with NA consoles instead of anime courage zones.

 

Other early games to be considered would include Legendary Ace, which was heaped with praise at launch and could have been a mascot or iconic bundled title with the system. There was even a Knight Rider game never released outside of Japan that could have been popular if it was translated. In japan the game used voice clips from the JP dub and having Hassle voice clips for an English version would be a selling point.

 

Overall though, I think China Warrior would have been the best option, it would immediately show the gap in power between the T16 and other older systems while giving you a Bruce Lee style martial arts adventure against Ninjas, Wizards, etc, giving an easy avenue for sequels like China Warrior II, China Warrior III, each improving gameplay speed and graphics, may have even helped the PCECD outside of Japan

 

Bonk just seems mostly like a generic platformer. Yes there are elements that differentiate it and some of those elements I'd say it does better than many other platforms, but I feel the novelty dried up after the first game. Giving him sunglasses and putting him in some wacky sci-fi shooter just screams to me they were working on an original game but felt like they were obligated to push Bonk and included him somehow when developing Air Zonk. It also doesn't help that Bonk isn't exactly a graphics pusher until around the 3rd game.

 

It wasn't a match against Sonic, being a free pack-in with a glut of Genesis consoles. I think China Warrior would have been the best choice if not some other game. I know that in Japan Bonk was a comic first that gained popularity and then became a game but that just adds to the novelty factor I mentioned before. It never seemed like the right choice to make "Bonk" the Face of NEC home electronics and the TG16/PC Engine long-term.

 

I feel that an 1989 pack-in release of China Warrior in NA would have made a difference in the TG16's performance outside of Japan and would have helped sales domestically as well. It helps that in Japan China Warrior was a launch game in 87 but they never seemed to push it there like Bonk, or before that Kato and Ken Chan or Wataru. It really is probably the best early and immediate example of what the TG16 could do compared to other consoles imo. I'm not even the biggest fan of the game but it was playable and had what was needed it also came out before Bonk so it would have helped give the TG16 more time to appeal to consumers.

 

tumblr_ocddy7fMuG1qd4q8ao1_400.gifvCoolSmartJavalina-max-14mb.gif

 

These gifs show a big difference in technical showcasing. 

 

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Don't believe China Warrior would have been a very good pack-in at all. Probably would have been as damaging as Keith Courage IMO. Fighting games did not/do not have the same universal appeal as something like a little friendlier platform game, that has several more dimensions and mechanics of play to it. I had CW BITD and never thought much of it. It's funny to see somewhat of the revisionist feelings toward this particular title after all these years and this isn't the first time I'm seeing that here in the forums. Maybe I need to revisit it, but BITD and despite the huge characters, was largely considered a generic stab at the genre. Stiff and clunky controls too, that left a lot to be desired. Believe CW quickly dropped to budget status too if I'm not mistaken. 

 

Anyway, I always liked the Bonk franchise and thought it was a good match for the TG-16. Different enough from Sonic (still play Bonk today, never got into Sonic) and Mario to still be fun, with great graphics, good use of colors, gameplay, etc. What I thought was strange was having a "mascot" game like Bonk appear on other systems BITD. NES, SNES and the Amiga with B.C. Kid at least. To me, a mascot should be exclusive to a given system.

 

Definitely think it was extremely sad that so many great games from Japan were never translated for NA. Will forever seem like one of the largest, most obvious blunders and missed opportunities that the home console industry ever witnessed. 

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39 minutes ago, save2600 said:

Don't believe China Warrior would have been a very good pack-in at all. Probably would have been as damaging as Keith Courage IMO. Fighting games did not/do not have the same universal appeal as something like a little friendlier platform game,

Don't be fooled by the gif, it's a scrolling beat em up not a fighting game. Although your argument would still have some merit, but I think the technical impressiveness for the time may have covered that (also Bruce Lee) for the late 80's but that's why I said I'm mixed on it because I feel it would have done better but I am not sure it would have been the best long-term solution.

 

1 hour ago, save2600 said:

Maybe I need to revisit it, but BITD and despite the huge characters, was largely considered a generic stab at the genre.

Yes, but it was also early and that could have opened up doors to sequels. It was the most immediate titles at the time to show a major graphical difference from the systems before. I do agree with you it's a pretty generic game also slow and hard to play but for the younger audience at the time they may or may not have minded that, look at what they were playing on NES/7800.

 

1 hour ago, save2600 said:

Anyway, I always liked the Bonk franchise and thought it was a good match for the TG-16. Different enough from Sonic (still play Bonk today, never got into Sonic) and Mario to still be fun, with great graphics, good use of colors, gameplay, etc. What I thought was strange was having a "mascot" game like Bonk appear on other systems BITD. NES, SNES and the Amiga with B.C. Kid at least. To me, a mascot should be exclusive to a given system.

 

I also agree that Bonk was a good game but when it came to moving hardware that's the part that I'm thinking about with the thread question. It never seemed to click with the mass audience despite being a generally well made game which is unfortunate.

 

As for appearing on other systems you have to consider the year those games came out usually around 1993. By 1993 the TG16/PC Engine was not able to pull off more sales and was near death and the "successor" in name only came out the next year and the contractual deals between NEC and HUDSON were mostly gone which is why Hudson retained pretty much all their NEC partnered games for the PC Engine and their IPs. 1994 is when they discontinued the system in JP so not long after.

 

Hudson switched to being a software publisher once those deals broke through, that's why you saw even the Amiga get a port of Bonk published by Ubisoft in 1992, which is when things were going south for the PC Engine. Especially after Super CD and Supergrafx failed to extend its viability.

 

Remember NEC with a head start and releasing in Japan in 1987 by 1994 only sold 5 million there. That's 7 years and with a few of those being THE console to buy there so NEC was never able to get the console to stick long-term no matter how hard they tried. They even lost a lot of their support when they released the "successor" in name only. 

 

 

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PC Genjin wasn't the PC Engine mascot.

 

Bonk became a mascot for the Turbo lines, but that was shortly before mismanagement led to the Turbo/Duo brand becoming a self-sustaining market instead of a world dominating bisiness model.

 

Many other factors contribute to whether or not a console becomes a worldwide mass market success. Because these are console and software businesses, not mascot sellers.

 

The only times mascots made much of an impact was Super Mario for NES and Sonic for Genesis.

 

Even on SNES Mario was more of a joke than a system seller, with more crap/edutainment software than legit Super Mario games.

 

Other than the Running Man for Intellivision, there weren't really any real console mascots that defined a brand before or after NES and Genesis.

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2 hours ago, save2600 said:

Don't believe China Warrior would have been a very good pack-in at all. Probably would have been as damaging as Keith Courage IMO. Fighting games did not/do not have the same universal appeal as something like a little friendlier platform game, that has several more dimensions and mechanics of play to it. I had CW BITD and never thought much of it. It's funny to see somewhat of the revisionist feelings toward this particular title after all these years and this isn't the first time I'm seeing that here in the forums. Maybe I need to revisit it, but BITD and despite the huge characters, was largely considered a generic stab at the genre. Stiff and clunky controls too, that left a lot to be desired. Believe CW quickly dropped to budget status too if I'm not mistaken. 

China Warrior isn't a "fighting game". It's a Gladiator style game and a huge improvement. You now had legit single frame sprites instead of the novelty of jumbles and it's much easier to control.

 

One of the biggest problems with classic gaming is that game mags bitd helped perpetuate a lot of myths about how gaming is 'supposed' to work.

 

Most people are conditioned to shoehorn every game into one of a handful of predetermined genres. Games which aren't generic enough to slide into these cookie cutter shapes get dismissed as being broken.

 

Meanwhile many genre defining games with major flaws get a free pass and working around those flaws is considered part of the appeal... when it's the titles that "everyone knows" are legendary classics or were released on popular platforms.

 

When a games isn't as broken but doesn't fit a perceived genre, isn't from a legendary series or wasn't made for a mass appeal system, it gets dumped on and often scapegoated as yet another reason X console "bombed".

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I just watched a You Tube video of China Warrior, and it looks really boring. Bonk is ok.

 

The Turbografx wasn´t a bad system. It just needed more shoot´em ups. ;)

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China Warrior is a shit game. Keith Courage was ok but not a good game. Bonk would have helped a lot as the NA pack-in game.

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Oh China Warrior, how you amazed me with your huge sprites.  How you made me snooze when I watched my friend play you on his new console.  How you made my friend cry when he wished that he bought Alien Crush instead. I remember telling him that he now knows how I felt after buying Sword of Sodan on the Amiga. 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, save2600 said:

What I thought was strange was having a "mascot" game like Bonk appear on other systems BITD.

Mario was on Atari up until the 7800 and Sonic was on PC and, interestingly, Neo Geo Pocket Color.

 

Anyway, The Kung Fu/China Warrior is bad. I'd rather have no pack-in game than that. It has interesting music and big sprites, but that's it. Keith Courage is not very good, but if there was a choice of pack-in games (with The Kung Fu and Keith being the only choices) and I absolutely couldn't buy a system with a different pack-in game, I'd still take Keith even though I hate it. John Brandstetter, who of course was actually working at NEC around that time, says that R-Type would have been the best pack-in game in the USA, and I agree with that. Source: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/225466/stalled_engine_the_turbografx16_.php?page=2

Edited by Steven Pendleton
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I'm sorry, but I have to agree with the critics here; I find China Warrior to be a terrible game, and think that it would have been a very bad choice for packin!  You want your packin to be a game people hopefully will like playing, which does not describe China Warrior for most, I think.  Good graphics do not make a good game and that game is a textbook case showing that fact.  Once you get past the huge sprites which do make a good first impression, I find the actual gameplay both boring and awful.  In my opinion China Warrior is one of the worst games I own for Turbografx/PC engine, and I have a lot of games for the system now.  Pushing this game more than the small amount they did would have been a big mistake, and while NEC were fans of making horrible decisions (seriously, they messed things up pretty badly...) at least they did get that one right.

 

As for the actual TG16 pack-in, I actually like Keith Courage, it's a good game despite average graphics, but yeah, R-Type would have been a fantastic choice and definitely the best of their pack-in options early on.  It's fantastic and shows off the system's power well.  Otherwise, Legendary Axe would have been the best early option if they wanted the packin to be a platformer -- it's pretty good, a popular title that is definitely better than Keith Courage overall in both graphics and gameplay.

 

Now, Bonk.  Bonk was a perfect choice for mascot in the US in the '90-'94 timeframe that the TG16 was on the market here, because mascot platformers were THE genre then and Bonk was their mascot platformer.  Bonk isn't as amazing as Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog, but it's a solidly good classic platformer that is quite fun to play. Picking Bonk as their mascot was an easy choice and the right one.  Bonk's Adventure has good graphics with bright, colorful environments and plenty of visual variety, and while the gameplay is simple it controls very well and the level designs are varied and well made.  It's a great platformer in the upper tier for its time.  Now, again, yes Bonk is much less innovative or original than those two aforementioned hits from Nintendo and Sega.  As much as I do like Hudson's TG16/PCE platformers, I think that they failed to keep up with the way the genre was changing, and instead kept making more NES-styled platformers for years.  There is a definite charm to that NES-like style, but it is more dated than the competition.  Platformers were never Hudson's strongest genre, I think, and you see that over time.  Hudson changed little in Bonk's sequels as a response to the shocks Mario World and particularly Sonic gave to the industry.  The TG16 and SNES Bonk games change over time, but where Bonk's Adventure was an A-grade hit, by their last Bonk game that gen, Super Bonk 2 (Japan-only), the series was B-tier.  If they were trying, I don't think Hudson succeeded at catching up to Nintendo and Sega's best in the platformer genre.  The TG16 Bonk games are probably my favorite Hudson platformers; after that and some of their other TG16/PCE games it's probably Super Bonk (SNES) and Bomberman Hero (N64), plus Bomberman 64 (N64) if you count it even though it has no jumping.  Those two games tried for some interesting things, in very different ways, but Hudson seems to have mostly abandoned platformers after that, unfortunately.  Too bad.

 

(In Japan as has been mentioned Bonk, aka PC Genjin, wasn't really the system's mascot, he was just the main character in one of its more prominent games.  The mascot platformer wasn't as big of a deal in Japan as it was in the US -- remember, Sonic the Hedgehog was not a phenomenon there like it was here.)

Edited by A Black Falcon
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19 hours ago, Black_Tiger said:

 

The only times mascots made much of an impact was Super Mario for NES and Sonic for Genesis.

 

Even on SNES Mario was more of a joke than a system seller, with more crap/edutainment software than legit Super Mario games.

 

Other than the Running Man for Intellivision, there weren't really any real console mascots that defined a brand before or after NES and Genesis.

 

Unofficially Crash Bandicoot. Also Halo. 

 

18 hours ago, Lord Mushroom said:

I just watched a You Tube video of China Warrior, and it looks really boring. Bonk is ok.

 

The Turbografx wasn´t a bad system. It just needed more shoot´em ups. ;)

I agree but at the time graphics would cover up or a meh or otherwise safe game back in the day so it may have caused some hype with it's large sprites, bruce lee style and colorful for the time environment.

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9 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

I'm sorry, but I have to agree with the critics here; I find China Warrior to be a terrible game,

I never disagreed with this (well I wouldn't say terrible but it's not good).

 

9 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

Good graphics do not make a good game and that game is a textbook case showing that fact.  Once you get past the huge sprites which do make a good first impression, I find the actual gameplay both boring and awful.  In my opinion China Warrior is one of the worst games I own for Turbografx/PC engine, and I have a lot of games for the system now.  Pushing this game more than the small amount they did would have been a big mistake, 

But consider this. Graphics were a big deal at the time so let's say China Warrior while not good became a reason to buy the TG16/PCE earlier, and then maybe they could improve the gameplay with sequels? Because Bonk when it first came out wasn't anything to write home about in graphics and the whole selling point of the TG16 in Japoan and everywhere else was it was better than everything else and pushed the bits = power myth before even Sega and Nintendo did.

 

9 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

As for the actual TG16 pack-in, I actually like Keith Courage, it's a good game despite average graphics, but yeah, R-Type would have been a fantastic choice and definitely the best of their pack-in options early on.  It's fantastic and shows off the system's power well.  Otherwise, Legendary Axe would have been the best early option if they wanted the packin to be a platformer -- it's pretty good, a popular title that is definitely better than Keith Courage overall in both graphics and gameplay.

 

Yes, I did mention Legendary Axe in the OP as another earlier title to use as it was given praise universally in both regions. Although I disagree with R-type, a niche Japanese space shooter isn't exactly a title with universal appeal, especially since "difficulty" was in the marketing.

 

I think the problem with why Keith didn't work was because not only was it very goofy looking outside of Japan, but it was a bit inconsistent and not entirely clear on what to do without trial and error or reading the manually especially with the shops and the whole dual gameplay thing. I do believe Legendary Axe or China Warrior would have been better.

 

Also it's funny, Keith and Axe both came out in NA at the same time so I guess NEC must have though the mediocre rated game in Japan would do better than the widely praised game in Japan when released in NA. NEC was funny like that, as you mentioned. Plenty of mistakes.

 

9 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

Now, Bonk.  Bonk was a perfect choice for mascot in the US in the '90-'94 timeframe that the TG16 was on the market here, because mascot platformers were THE genre then and Bonk was their mascot platformer.  Bonk isn't as amazing as Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog, but it's a solidly good classic platformer that is quite fun to play. Picking Bonk as their mascot was an easy choice and the right one.  Bonk's Adventure has good graphics with bright, colorful environments and plenty of visual variety, and while the gameplay is simple it controls very well and the level designs are varied and well made.  It's a great platformer in the upper tier for its time.  Now, again, yes Bonk is much less innovative or original than those two aforementioned hits from Nintendo and Sega.  As much as I do like Hudson's TG16/PCE platformers, I think that they failed to keep up with the way the genre was changing, and instead kept making more NES-styled platformers for years.  There is a definite charm to that NES-like style, but it is more dated than the competition.  Platformers were never Hudson's strongest genre, I think, and you see that over time.  Hudson changed little in Bonk's sequels as a response to the shocks Mario World and particularly Sonic gave to the industry. 

Actually SMW wasn't really much of a shock in retrospect.

 

But one thing you have to consider with Bonk is Sonic was packed in for free as the Genesis was gaining in popularity. By the time Bonk came out in NA the TG16 was declining in sales. Sonic was able to take that slow growth and bring Sega into the spotlight along with games like MK, where Bonk was well, Bonk and didn't do much to "save" the TG16 in NA. 

 

This is why I brought up games like China Warrior, Legendary Ace, or Knight Rider among other possible mascots/pack-ins because those were all earlier than 1990 and could have helped grow the system in NA, and each may have had a sequel with better graphics and gameplay by the time the SNES release in NA (1991) or Sonic came out (1991) because Bonk came out in NA in mid 1990 and in Japan in December 1989 which may as well also be 1990. And by 1991 NEC had made multiple bad decisions, produced unpopular hardware products, and was spiraling downward.

 

So with NEC poor management they really needed a popular mascot and/or pack-in earlier in than 1990 imo. I think that was among the biggest mistakes. Already by 1992 you started seeing Hudson move away from NEC.

 

9 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

Platformers were never Hudson's strongest genre, I think, and you see that over time.  Hudson changed little in Bonk's sequels as a response to the shocks Mario World and particularly Sonic gave to the industry.  The TG16 and SNES Bonk games change over time, but where Bonk's Adventure was an A-grade hit, by their last Bonk game that gen, Super Bonk 2 (Japan-only), the series was B-tier.  If they were trying, I don't think Hudson succeeded at catching up to Nintendo and Sega's best in the platformer genre.  The TG16 Bonk games are probably my favorite Hudson platformers; after that and some of their other TG16/PCE games it's probably Super Bonk (SNES) and Bomberman Hero (N64), plus Bomberman 64 (N64) if you count it even though it has no jumping.  Those two games tried for some interesting things, in very different ways, but Hudson seems to have mostly abandoned platformers after that, unfortunately.  Too bad.

 

I though Jackie Chan and their Wonder Boy conversions were ok, and I guess Blue Blink is decent.

 

But yeah they didn't have the best platformers but I'm not sure it was due for a lack of trying I think it was just they didn't have time and they stretched themselves too thin honestly. iirc between games developed or they contributed to in some form they were involved with over 120 games just on NEC hardware alone and then you had them move to other consoles by 1992 onward so they really stretched themselves thin.

 

As a matter of fact looking into it more their releases for NEC products is indeed their greatest software output by a massive margin and nothing else comes close, 2nd runner up seems to be the GB/GBC.

 

I do like Bomberman Hero though, to bad they didn't continue that formula I think it would have made Bomberman more popular.

 

9 hours ago, A Black Falcon said:

(In Japan as has been mentioned Bonk, aka PC Genjin, wasn't really the system's mascot, he was just the main character in one of its more prominent games.  The mascot platformer wasn't as big of a deal in Japan as it was in the US -- remember, Sonic the Hedgehog was not a phenomenon there like it was here.)

Sonic wasn't bundled with every Genesis system in Japan do I don't think that's a fair comparison honestly. Not to mention the Genesis before Sonic came out was doing maybe 400 times worse than it was doing in NA.

 

Too bad NEC messed up that head start over there smh.

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NEC made tons of errors in retrospect, but Bonk was fine for a mascot. Air Zonk, absolutely not, but by then NEC was basically dead anyway with the last-gasp Turbo Duo.

 

China Warrior would have been a bad choice as the game stunk and large sprites were choppy. 

 

They should have packed in Legendary Axe, maybe Ninja Spirit after a while. Still, that wouldn't have changed much. 

 

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China Warrior was the most technically impressive game at the time. It wouldn't have been a terrible pick, similar to Sega packaging the Genesis with Altered Beast.

 

But it's the cute, kid friendly mascots that sell systems.

 

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I remember China Warrior making an impression at first glance, of course, but it was savaged in reviews for its lack of depth, repetitive palette-swapped enemies, and harsh/unfair difficulty. Altered Beast doesn't have much depth but compared to China Warrior it's a lot more playable, fair, visually compelling and fun with 2-player co-op, and it did the job of showing a big technical leap from 8-bit to 16-bit.

 

Another problem with positioning China Warrior more prominently would be that it would have inevitably drawn the attention of the Bruce Lee estate, who would either want royalties or a redesign of the character - not good for building a lasting mascot.

 

Mascots like Sonic and Mario were effective because they are cute and have appeal across genders and age ranges. In that light, Bonk was a good choice. But I don't know if, aside from being solid platformers, the Bonk games brought anything as new to the table technically as Mario and Sonic did in their debuts. The first Super Mario Bros. and first Sonic had aspects that shocked the public.

 

I don't know if it would even be possible for another company to develop an equally popular and effective system-seller mascot... but there sure were a lot of companies trying in the 90s. Now there's a whole rogue's gallery of head scratchers, bad designs with "attitude." Personally I think Crash Bandicoot is a really ugly character but he maintains a sort of b-list popularity. It's tough to design good cute characters, really tough.

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No their mistake (outside Japan) if anything would be not having Bonk the day it came out and relying on that average at best Keith Courage, and China Warrior is far from great and would have helped move nothing if that's what they'd want to feature as telling on how nice the system could be.  Ultimately though the real mistake wasn't what their mascot or pack-in was, it was the sheer and utter incompetence of their US office scrapping/blocking so many fantastic games from ever coming out of Japan.  So much of the PCE library already is in english entirely or down to a few intro lines or menu bits there was little to no excuse to not bring out so much.  Quite a few arcade conversions which Nintendo and Sega were peddling at the time had infinitely superior releases on PCE/TG that it's a crime they stayed locked overseas.

 

save2600 said it best, china warrior would have been damaging.  A walk along brawler (he called fighter, in error?) is not something even at that time that had mass appeal.  There were many who enjoyed that style, but in the back half of the 80s into the earlier half of the 90s the mascot platformer was king.  Bonk had a great environment, approachable concepts, solid control, and great gameplay mechanics with some unique nice twists around the meats, etc.  You really couldn't ask for much more out of a console mascot character and each game added a bit more to it, as did the spinoffs like Denjin (Air Zonk.)  Sonic as a platformer was more of a one trick pony than Bonk was.  NECs problem again was brainless operation outside of Japan at multiple levels of failure.

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Also, most people don't realize that the PC Engine was Hudson's project, not NEC's (that's why Konami who bought Hudson made the PC Engine mini).

NEC, like most computer makers, wasn't involved that much in software and as you now, in the console market, games are more important that systems (the razorblade metaphor...).

 

PC Engine was successful in Japan, but it was not much compared to the Famicom since it mainly catered to rich hardcore gamers - almost kind of like the NeoGeo. Their marketing strategy might have been enough for Japan, but they clearly didn't have the resources (or the will) to make it global I think.

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I don't know.. as someone who got the TG16 at launch in my 20's, even back then I'd have thought it really odd if they chose China Warrior as their marketing mascot.  I would have even thought that Keith Courage (the original sprite, not the US cover art) would have made sense too, just to show how much I'd think China Warrior is the odd duck.  

 

China Warrior's impact were the large sprites which were kind of cool at the time, but then you played it and it really didn't stick with you and definitely wasn't as fun as the other TG16 games like Blazing Lazers & Legendary Axe. 

 

Bonk was a great choice considering the game was really good.. but the character just didn't age super well. It didn't help that they went back to the original beady eyed look for the cover art which was a little more off putting at least to me. 😛

 

 

 

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I wonder if NEC had just lowered the price of the system instead of attempting 32 different ways to artificially extend its life, it would have performed better outside of Japan and in Japan itself. A cheap PC Engine/TG16 with a good bundled game with its capabilities may have been more attractive instead of some new Hardware attempt to be cutting edge. The CD addon worked in Japan, at first. But it proved to be a hindrance elsewhere, Supergrafx was poorly supported and advertised, etc.

 

Imagine a $99 Tg16 in 1990-1991 with a ton of games on cheaper hu cards than the competitors cartridges. Maybe make the Supergrafx a proper new system with 3D in 1993 or something. Have a CD-drive pre-installed. 

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11 hours ago, Tanooki said:

No their mistake (outside Japan) if anything would be not having Bonk the day it came out and relying on that average at best Keith Courage,

I would agree, however Keith courage came out a year before Bonk which was also the year the system released in NA, so there were real slim pickings for a NA pack-in game at the time. 

 

16 hours ago, Zoyous said:

Mascots like Sonic and Mario were effective because they are cute and have appeal across genders and age ranges. In that light, Bonk was a good choice. But I don't know if, aside from being solid platformers, the Bonk games brought anything as new to the table technically as Mario and Sonic did in their debuts.

I remember a lot of people praising the smashing and climbing(biting up walls) elements but I don't think there was much Bonk could add. Mario wasn't really that special itself but it helped spur scrolling platformers to become more popular than before standardizing common elements, Sonic brought in great graphics along with speed being the primary highlight, which worked with the "tude teenager" demographic. 

 

I don't see what Hudson could have done to make Bonk as appealing. Scrolling platformers were already saturated, and while Bonk's atrtstyle was unique comapred to others, it just seemed like another colorful slow paced platformer. The fact they felt the need to make a spin-off with Air Zonk to try and broaden its appeal tells you all you need to know. 

 

I really think the biggest obstacle facing Bonk was that it came out too late. NEC/Hudson should have had a mascot earlier in Japan and in time for the NA release. It was a year before Sonic and the SNES in NA and around the announcement (not launch) of the SNES in Japan. And with 1991 being the start of the PC Engines death spiral in NA (and Japan) it just wasn't the game to "save" the console imo. It's a good game, in fact all 3 are great games, hell I even like Air Zonk (the first one) but they never had the system seller appeal.

 

Leave it to NEC/Hudson to ruin a 3 year headstart in Japan.

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19 hours ago, mbd30 said:

China Warrior was the most technically impressive game at the time. It wouldn't have been a terrible pick, similar to Sega packaging the Genesis with Altered Beast.

 

But it's the cute, kid friendly mascots that sell systems.

 

Yeah but Altered Beast was at least interesting and fun to play. China Warrior is boring after a few minutes a game play, and after you realize each stage is just the same thing over.. it's a big let down. It might have had large sprites, but it wasn't technically impressive enough to overcome its shitty-ness. 

 

Coming from an NES, KC actually had some impressive colors! The gun guys were very impressive looking (and the color gradients). It was 10x better than CW. Fun is more important than impressive.

 

Bonk definitely "saved" the TG16. Saved doesn't mean make it number one, or even 2nd place. The first two Bonk games gave the system some life and interest, especially among its more limited catalog. It did its job. Bonk helped fill a gap that was missing on the TG16.

 

The problem with NEC, was that although they put in the large initial investment, they actually thought they would win the market over like they had done in Japan.. without any additional work. The problem with NEC, is that they weren't Sega or Nintendo.. top tier game developers. Even though Hudson did a lot of development for the PC-Engine in Japan, they still weren't in the same league, talent, and money/resources like that of Sega and Nintendo. The problem with NEC, is while the PC-Engine started off strong in software development - showing off some impressive initial titles, it eventually got regulated to "Famicom with knobs" tier development - the bar didn't raise much beyond that. And talent in the 'west' in no way matched top tier Japanese development. The system is capable of a lot more than what the average software displays, but they're nothing you can really do if the software isn't taking advantage of it - in the back catalog (Japan). They brought out almost all the best hucard titles at the time from Japan - and the first year or so of the TG16 had some strong titles, with the idea that they were only going to get better. But subsequent titles from Japan starting getting lower and lower scores in magazines like EGM (which always rated TG16 games lower than other magazines, and were always more critical of the system). But all of it didn't really matter much - CD development was replacing hucard development. More mature/advance titles were showing up on CD. Even if NEC had been quite successful in NA, all things as they are now, they were living on borrowed time. The switch of medium from hucards to CDs in Japan, spelled eventual doom for the TG16 hucard console.

 

 The Turbo Duo was a welcome reboot. But it definitely was not for the masses. For the longest time, the SegaCD softs were just garbage in comparison (IMO - I didn't care for anything that was coming out on it). Of course this is more on TTi's side, but they really should have brought over many more CD titles. Considering the profit margins were higher because of the extreme low cost of CD projects, it was more criminal that a lot of CD games got left in Japan. TTi/NEC should have done a lot more in this department. I ended up importing a lot of CD games from Japan back in the day.

 

Children needed mascots. I definitely didn't a need a mascot. 

 

 

Also, how is the SMB series "not really anything special"??? Are you kidding me? Especially by the time you get to SMB 3, it's an incredibly impressive marvel of game design, mechanics, and polish. You literally had nothing of it's equivalent on any EU computer, or Sega and NEC consoles at the time. Matter of fact, the PCE never got an equivalent of SMB 3 even in its catalogue, let alone even SMB 2 USA. 

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26 minutes ago, turboxray said:

And talent in the 'west' in no way matched top tier Japanese development.

Huh?

 

26 minutes ago, turboxray said:

Also, how is the SMB series "not really anything special"??? Are you kidding me? Especially by the time you get to SMB 3, 

If you're talking about my comment I was clearly only talking about the first game. Not the series you just kind of threw that in there.

 

Quote

The problem with NEC, was that although they put in the large initial investment, they actually thought they would win the market over like they had done in Japan..

Well the Famicom has been around since 1983 and even poor games looked miles better on average when the PC Engine came out in Japan giving it an advantage there, so I suppose they though such a thing would fly in NA, and it didn't. 

 

But they still screwed up in Japan anyway and ruined a 3 year head start (against the Super Famicom which sold 17 million units to its ~5)

Edited by Leeroy ST

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3 hours ago, Austin said:

I sure made a mistake by clicking on this thread.

Would have been easier to avoid had China Warrior been mentioned in the title.   :rolling:

 

...and sorry fella's for not splitting hairs when it comes to CW being a 'fighting game' - because contextually (compared to a platform game like Mario/Sonic/Bonk), that's what it is. Knock yourself out if you want to call it a side-scrolling brawler, beat 'em up, fighting, fighter, "gladiator" (new one on me), Kung-Fu simulator or whatever else you want to call it.

 

Just gave it a go right now and it's even worse than I remember 30 years ago. ha   Forgot all about the forced scrolling (WTF?) and cruelly repetitive nature of the game. And at the end of a level, you fight a boss one-on-one... just as we've come to expect out of "traditional" fighting games. Except, this game plays and feels like it was made for a much, much younger audience. Love the music though!! 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, turboxray said:

Coming from an NES, KC actually had some impressive colors! The gun guys were very impressive looking (and the color gradients). It was 10x better than CW. Fun is more important than impressive.

 

Yep.. I've said this before but while people liked to rag on Keith Courage today (probably justifiably so), when it was brand new it really was a pretty exciting entry into 16-bit gaming at the time. :)  There WAS a luster to it especially with the sharp graphics & colors, although I guess it didn't last super long. 

 

Good thing we had games like Blazing Lazers which had much longer staying power gameplay-wise. 

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