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Leeroy ST

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

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10 minutes ago, save2600 said:

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!! 

 

 

I mean to be fair in Canada and in Europe Beat them ups were interchanged with Fighting games back in the day so I mean you aren't really off the mark. But that wasn't too common in America.

 

But you are right about the game, I never really argued for the games quality just the graphics. It's basically the definition of flash and no substance, but it does a damn good job with the flash part and it was a launch year game for the PCE in japan in 87 iirc which makes it more impressive. In the flash part not the substance part lol. 

 

  

2 minutes ago, NE146 said:

 

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. 

I think I may have mentioned it before but going by some reviews from back then and Youtube retros now I think people ragged on Keith mostly because they didn't know what to do (also the human stages were kind of slow tbh) like people still complain about just finding the shops even now. 

Edited by Leeroy ST

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32 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:

But you are right about the game, I never really argued for the games quality just the graphics. It's basically the definition of flash and no substance, but it does a damn good job with the flash part and it was a launch year game for the PCE in japan in 87 iirc which makes it more impressive. In the flash part not the substance part lol. 

For a home console in 1987, I'll give you that. One of the reasons I love the PC Engine/TG-16.   :)

 

I could see with some re-tooling or tweaking... increase the difficulty, give it some more variety in enemies, objectives and things to do (ie: power ups, new fighting skill sets, etc.) - this might have made a good game in the arcades. Or a good game period.  :lol:

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57 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:
2 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

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. 

 

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.

Mario was a phenomenon at the time and helped revive console gaming in North America.

 

The first SMB is also my favorite even today. I like the simplicity and straightforwardness compared to the sequels.

 

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5 minutes ago, mbd30 said:

The first SMB is also my favorite even today. I like the simplicity and straightforwardness compared to the sequels.

 

Yes, however it was a pack-in and came out to standardize some scrolling concepts.

 

Concepts that were saturated by the time Bonk came out unfortunately. Sonic had the speed factor and better graphics but Bonk didn't really bring anything which was my overall point. While China Warrior wasn't really the best game for an early (and I mean early) game it does a better job wowing people initially and on magazine screen shots. But I supposed Legendary Axe could be another viable option.

 

13 minutes ago, save2600 said:

For a home console in 1987, I'll give you that. One of the reasons I love the PC Engine/TG-16.   :)

 

I could see with some re-tooling or tweaking... increase the difficulty, give it some more variety in enemies, objectives and things to do (ie: power ups, new fighting skill sets, etc.) - this might have made a good game in the arcades. Or a good game period.  :lol:

Yeah, but that seems to be the thing about a lot of PCE games, they just seem to have been made to do just enough to get buy.

 

For very quality Namco, Hudson or Victor game there was a FACE, Human, Cream and other garbage.

 

Of course China Warrior is a Hudson game but I'll give them a pass since it was in 1987 and the first game of that type they ever created iirc. I wouldn't be surprised if their focus on that game was graphics though.

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56 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:

Yes, however it was a pack-in and came out to standardize some scrolling concepts.

 

Concepts that were saturated by the time Bonk came out unfortunately. Sonic had the speed factor and better graphics but Bonk didn't really bring anything which was my overall point. While China Warrior wasn't really the best game for an early (and I mean early) game it does a better job wowing people initially and on magazine screen shots. But I supposed Legendary Axe could be another viable option.

 

Yeah, but that seems to be the thing about a lot of PCE games, they just seem to have been made to do just enough to get buy.

 

For very quality Namco, Hudson or Victor game there was a FACE, Human, Cream and other garbage.

 

Of course China Warrior is a Hudson game but I'll give them a pass since it was in 1987 and the first game of that type they ever created iirc. I wouldn't be surprised if their focus on that game was graphics though.

Bonk is no Sonic in terms of graphics, but it's a nice looking game with simple and easy gameplay that appeals to a more general audience than China Warrior and Legendary Axe. Bonk does have attractive colors which is one thing that TG16 excels at compared to the Genesis.

 

 

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1 hour ago, mbd30 said:

Bonk is no Sonic in terms of graphics, but it's a nice looking game with simple and easy gameplay that appeals to a more general audience than China Warrior and Legendary Axe. Bonk does have attractive colors which is one thing that TG16 excels at compared to the Genesis.

 

Not to mention Bonk beat Sonic to the market by several months, so for a time Bonk was THE de-facto 16-bit mascot platformer out there, bright graphics and all. 

 

Sonic definitely had a huge impact though when it did finally come out. 

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2 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

Yes, however it was a pack-in and came out to standardize some scrolling concepts.

Regarding SMB... I think it was more than just scrolling that shocked the gaming public. It was a plethora of secrets that were revealed by a very deliberate method of in-game 'tutorial' (prior to the advent of what are now very literal tutorials). In short, the game gradually teaches introduces abilities and then it becomes clear that you can use those abilities in surprising ways (like finding your way up to the top of the screen and discovering secret warps). In those ways it revolutionized what the public could expect from platformers and introduced a type of fun related to exploring and experimenting that wasn't immediately apparent. Sonic also has a lot of this non-linear exploration aspect to it, although the sheer speed and physics is what obviously got the most attention. I mean, occasionally games had "secrets" before this era but it was the Japanese developers who really expanded exponentially on this and made it into a sort of meta-game as you shared secrets with your friends via word of mouth.

 

Looking at the TG16 launch titles in the US, I think Keith Courage was probably the best choice of what was available at the time. Maybe in an alternate reality I would pack in both Legendary Axe and R-Type instead. It's just too bad NEC didn't keep the localizations coming at a rapid pace. They had a huge initial advantage with a big library of games while Sega was ramping up the MD/Genesis. Hell, they even had their own versions of some of Sega's best games! I guess ultimately they just didn't have the name recognition in gaming, in the US.

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22 minutes ago, Zoyous said:

I mean, occasionally games had "secrets" before this era but it was the Japanese developers who really expanded exponentially on this and made it into a sort of meta-game as you shared secrets with your friends via word of mouth.

I mean maybe for platformers sure but this was common on computers.

 

22 minutes ago, Zoyous said:

Looking at the TG16 launch titles in the US, I think Keith Courage was probably the best choice of what was available at the time. Maybe in an alternate reality I would pack in both Legendary Axe and R-Type instead. It's just too bad NEC didn't keep the localizations coming at a rapid pace. They had a huge initial advantage with a big library of games while Sega was ramping up the MD/Genesis. Hell, they even had their own versions of some of Sega's best games! I guess ultimately they just didn't have the name recognition in gaming, in the US.

Well I don't know about that, China Warrior and Axe were also early game and the only reason why Keith was a pack-in was because the name change was to butter up to a NEC executive named Keith. Otherwise I'm not sure Keith Courage would have been chosen in the first place.

 

Not that Keith is a bad game (though a bit slow) but that's one of those more odd PC Engine titles that would work in Japan but make people go WTF in NA. Which the PC Engine had plenty of, like that one game where you play as a ship made of poo shooting but spiders after and collecting golden dookeys. After being teleported to that dimension from the bathroom.

 

Ok Keith wasn't that weird but you get my point lol.

 

Edited by Leeroy ST

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I think Bonk was a great mascot.  The game was very good, it had pretty wide appeal, Bonk was kind of a funny and recognizable character, and those screen-filling bosses did show some cool 'next gen' graphics.  It played by far better than some of the other choices.  Hindsight is 20/20 but I'm not sure I'd have picked anything else even in hindsight.

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4 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:

Not that Keith is a bad game (though a bit slow) but that's one of those more odd PC Engine titles that would work in Japan but make people go WTF in NA. Which the PC Engine had plenty of, like a game where you play as a ship made of poo shooting but spiders after and collecting golden dookeys. After being teleported to that dimension from the bathroom.

 

Ok Keith wasn't that weird but you get my point lol.

 

😆 To me, I was the kind of kid who was like, the weirder the better. Bring it! But yeah, the reality of mass-marketing to American teenagers was that things had to be more "cool" and I guess that's where Sega ultimately landed on the sweet spot for a few years of cuteness with "attitude." Bonk, as well. Meanwhile, it was Electronic Arts who was figuring out the long game was really going to be won by licensed sports titles and annualized, focus-group-tested sequels.

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13 minutes ago, Zoyous said:

😆 To me, I was the kind of kid who was like, the weirder the better. Bring it! But yeah, the reality of mass-marketing to American teenagers was that things had to be more "cool" and I guess that's where Sega ultimately landed on the sweet spot for a few years of cuteness with "attitude." Bonk, as well. Meanwhile, it was Electronic Arts who was figuring out the long game was really going to be won by licensed sports titles and annualized, focus-group-tested sequels.

Well Sega appealed to the demographic that got lost post Atari and Nintendo Alienated. While NEC started out going after the younger kids than ended up going toward the more mature goofy and later hentai crowd by the end. Sega was able to grab the platform first and when Sonic came out they had a platform to take off from. Outside of Japan.

 

In Japan it was a bit different though NEC still screwed up a 3 year head start. However it's funny, in NA SOJ really hurt Sega late genesis and during the Saturn, and NEC Japan hurt NEC USA, Hudson USA, and TTI in NA. Seems Japan just had a habit of not liking independent moves from it's international branches.

 

(Also iirc I think the game I am remembering was actually called Toilet Kids. Lol

 

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That was one of the weird ones for sure haha.)

Edited by Leeroy ST
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19 hours ago, NE146 said:

 

Not to mention Bonk beat Sonic to the market by several months, so for a time Bonk was THE de-facto 16-bit mascot platformer out there, bright graphics and all. 

 

Sonic definitely had a huge impact though when it did finally come out. 

Just wanted to say, Bonk came out in May 1990 and Sonic came out in June 1991. Did you mean Bonk's Revenge?

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8 minutes ago, turboxray said:

Just wanted to say, Bonk came out in May 1990 and Sonic came out in June 1991. Did you mean Bonk's Revenge?

Actually my memory might be faulty but I recall playing Bonk's Revenge in my old apartment.. i.e. STILL some time before the 1st Sonic came out (which came out when I moved to my new apartment).

 

So we had 2 Bonk games before Sonic.. is that what you mean? 

 

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17 minutes ago, NE146 said:

Actually my memory might be faulty but I recall playing Bonk's Revenge in my old apartment.. i.e. STILL some time before the 1st Sonic came out (which came out when I moved to my new apartment).

 

So we had 2 Bonk games before Sonic.. is that what you mean? 

 

I mean technically your original point is still somewhat accurate. But there being 2 Bonks before Sonic kind of supports my point that it wasn't the game to radically change NEC fortunes, in Japan nor NA. SNES came and that was it in Japan, and NEC couldn't find anything that stuck that could have slowed down the Sonic momentum later for the Genesis in NA, and that included Bonk. 

 

But your point that it was the first and prominent (relatively) "16-bit" mascot is still correct.

 

 

BTW does anyone else notice that Bonk's revenge sound quality in the music is notably worse than the first Bonks? The "intruments" for lack of a better term are clearly better in Bonks revenge (and I like the first level music more than the other two) but the output is terrible and the music sounds like I was playing it off a degraded record player. (Edit: and Bonk III is worse than that, were they pushing the TG16/PCE audio too hard for the Bonk II and 3 soundtracks reaching its limits???)

Edited by Leeroy ST

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6 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

 

BTW does anyone else notice that Bonk's revenge sound quality in the music is notably worse than the first Bonks? The "intruments" for lack of a better term are clearly better in Bonks revenge (and I like the first level music more than the other two) but the output is terrible and the music sounds like I was playing it off a degraded record player. (Edit: and Bonk III is worse than that, were they pushing the TG16/PCE audio too hard for the Bonk II and 3 soundtracks reaching its limits???)

Maybe it's your emulator or machine, but Bonk's Revenge sound quality definitely is not worse than Bonk's Adventure. Sound engine wise it has more advance instruments. Degradation-wise, definitely not. It's not doing what Blood Wolf is doing, so the sound is not "dirty".

 

 It's not pushing the PCE sound hardware in anyway shape or form haha. 

Edited by turboxray

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The section clear music carried over from Bonk's Adventure doesn't sound as nice in Revenge because they didn't fade it out like the original version.

 

I find it uncomfortable to listen too.

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1 hour ago, turboxray said:

Maybe it's your emulator or machine, but Bonk's Revenge sound quality definitely is not worse than Bonk's Adventure. Sound engine wise it has more advance instruments. Degradation-wise, definitely not. It's not doing what Blood Wolf is doing, so the sound is not "dirty".

 

 It's not pushing the PCE sound hardware in anyway shape or form haha. 

I'm talking about actual device not an emulator. And I doubled checked on Youtube and it seems to be the same problem of Bonks Revenge having this weird buzzing and degradation in stage 1 which Bonks Adventure stage 1 doesn't seem to have:

 

 

 

It sounds the same on my actual TG16 with CRT as well. It's even worse for the boss music which is near the same with both games, although some say it was intentional but I'm not sure about that as it matches the same "instruments" used with the rest of the game.

 

It is however clear BR is using better "instruments" so I assumed that is why the sound quality dropped.

 

28 minutes ago, Black_Tiger said:

The section clear music carried over from Bonk's Adventure doesn't sound as nice in Revenge because they didn't fade it out like the original version.

 

I find it uncomfortable to listen too.

I also believe they carried over the Boss music, which sounds radically different in quality than even the clear and stage 1 differences.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

I'm talking about actual device not an emulator. And I doubled checked on Youtube and it seems to be the same problem of Bonks Revenge having this weird buzzing and degradation in stage 1 which Bonks Adventure stage 1 doesn't seem to have:

 

It is however clear BR is using better "instruments" so I assumed that is why the sound quality dropped

 

 

 

It's literally just a channel with a specific waveform playing. On real hardware (and mednafen - which is the only accurate sound emulation for PCE) it's going to be a little softer - but that sound was on purpose. But yeah, the sound engine is sooo simple for these two games it's not even funny. No tricks or anything. Just a really basic/simple sound engine.

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On 10/14/2020 at 10:28 PM, turboxray said:

It's literally just a channel with a specific waveform playing. On real hardware (and mednafen - which is the only accurate sound emulation for PCE) it's going to be a little softer - but that sound was on purpose. But yeah, the sound engine is sooo simple for these two games it's not even funny. No tricks or anything. Just a really basic/simple sound engine.

That Buzzing noise was on purpose? That's strange, just listen to how much worse the boss music sounds in Revenge despite being the same song nearly from the first game. What a strange decision.

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17 hours ago, turboxray said:

Could hack it and make the waveform less pronounced? I load it up and take a look at it. 

Cool, because honestly Bonk 2 is my favorite in the series, and stage 1 may be my favorite track. One of my older CRT's seems to make it sound more clean so I guess newer CRT's sound worse than older ones.

Edited by Leeroy ST

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3 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:

Cool, because honestly Bonk 2 is my favorite in the series, and stage 1 may be my favorite track. One of my older CRT's seems to make it sound more clean so I guess newer CRT's sound worse than older ones.

CRTs create different levels of buzzing sound depending on the image displayed.

 

It was very noticeable when commercials for mail order products began using computer generated fonts against single color backgrounds.

 

In video games, scenes with strong contrast seems to make it worse. The PC Engine CD "Push Run Button!" screens are a good example.

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Looking through JJ and Jeff is a pretty good contender as well to replace Bonk. It launched the same year in NA as Bonk, and it was early launch title in Japan.

 

The strange and goofy edgy style games are what gave the TG16 an early advantage in Japan, as Nintendo alienated the teenage and mature market there as well as NA, although they went a but too far later on which may be why sales fell of a cliff and they failed to realize this messing up their 3 year head start to the famicom successor super famicom.

 

In NA, the Genesis managed with a aggressive pack-in Sonic, aggressive ads, and games like MK and NBA jam  to grab a large amount of older kids/teens/mature audiences that the NES alienated, and if they had bundled JJ and Jeff and focused on bringing in those more mature and edgy games maybe NEC would have gotten to that audience first. The big issue with NEC in America and in Japan was that in Japan they started out grabbing that audience then went to far on the more radical end of that bar where it became more of an enthusiast device, so they shifted into trying to grab the kids market which only marginally worked as it was too far too late.

 

In NA, NEC/Hudson kind of coasted on 16-bit buzz words then immediately started pushing those style of games to the side and put games aimed at the younger audience into the spotlight, which is also why they later put a focus on Bonk. I think that was a mistake as the kid market was already saturated even with Nintendo the main lead. 

 

If JJ and Jeff was bundled and several other edgy and "mature" humor or violent action games (which TG16 did have) were put into the spot light more, maybe NEC would have gotten to that audience before Sega did and there would have been a tussle between the two for that audience which would lead to more competition in NA and the TG16 would have sold much better regardless if it would have given it the win or not. Especially since Sega still would have made those isolated self-inflicted wounds in 1993-1995 with the Genesis which may have given NEC the win. 

 

However, I wouldn't have made it the mascot, there isn't much you could add to JJ and Jeff, especially with the source material, and the game while plays ok and looks much great for an early title, isn't the best playing, it would work well for an initial pack-in but I wouldn't think there would be a JJ and Jeff 2 or anything. Just a pack-in game would be good enough.

 

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In regards to upgraded consoles, there is in retrospect no real examples where strapping a second console on another really made any long term commercial sense, the ratio of good games on them is also usually low, but some gems come from the rough. 

 

I think bonk was fine as a mascot, it was one of the few personalities the tg16 had. The only other one I can genuinely think of that would have been marketable would be Hudsons own Bomberman. With a bit more work on the bomberman games for tg16 and not porting it to mega drive, snes etc it might have made a similar difference as Bonk, but the exclusivity might have killed it too. 

 

I'm basing this on the fact that everyone I knew loved bomberman on snes as a Multiplayer game and a few fans of the mega drive one. I think it would have been a risky tactic though for Hudson and they would have likely had to port them anyway. 

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1 hour ago, Mikebloke said:

In regards to upgraded consoles, there is in retrospect no real examples where strapping a second console on another really made any long term commercial sense, the ratio of good games on them is also usually low, but some gems come from the rough. 

 

I think bonk was fine as a mascot, it was one of the few personalities the tg16 had. The only other one I can genuinely think of that would have been marketable would be Hudsons own Bomberman. With a bit more work on the bomberman games for tg16 and not porting it to mega drive, snes etc it might have made a similar difference as Bonk, but the exclusivity might have killed it too. 

 

I'm basing this on the fact that everyone I knew loved bomberman on snes as a Multiplayer game and a few fans of the mega drive one. I think it would have been a risky tactic though for Hudson and they would have likely had to port them anyway. 

Bomberman came out late for the TG16 though and was already on other consoles before then.

 

I think the issue really is NEC fumbled the PC Engine really fast starting in 1991 so any late mascot late 1990 or onward would run into problems. The Mascot would have to have been earlier to get around that. I suppose the closest to a mascot other than Bonk that's early enough and stylized would be Berahbohman/Bravoman but making a third party game a mascot would be rather uh, crazy. Then again I guess Sony did that, unofficially.

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