Thursday, August 23, 2012

Impressions: Chō Genjin 2 (SFC)

Received: August 16th, 2012 / Written: August 23rd, 2012
Chō Genjin 2
Year: 1995 | Developed and Published by: Hudson Soft | [ O ]

Bonk to the rescue!!!  =D
My experience with the Bonk video game series has been very limited, but from what I played of the bald head-bonking caveman series I had a lot of fun.  Bonk's Adventure was the first game I downloaded on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console over half a decade ago, and I really like it.  That game had decent play control, vibrant colors, cute charm, and an interesting concept.  I hated that the fight with the final boss in said game involved using cheap tactics (liberal usage of turbo buttons, away!!).  The second iteration Bonk's Revenge (which I downloaded months later) I also enjoyed, and thought was an improvement over the first game in more ways than one.  The play control was significantly polished, the visuals were better, the music was catchy and fun to listen to, it was slightly more charming, and I thought the added difficulty settings added some replay value.  Like the previous game, the final boss had to be defeated through cheap tactics (once again the turbo buttons come to the rescue), and I really hate it just as much.  I haven't played Bonk III: Bonk's Big Adventure, but I looked up that it had gameplay elements that were similar to the first New Super Mario Bros. game, and I heard mixed things about it, too; but if that game's final boss has to be defeated through cheap tactics, I swear I'm going to be p#&%ed off, because two times was bad enough.  >=(  I haven't played Bonk's first 16-bit outing Super Bonk on the Super Nintendo, which I also heard mixed things about, though I looked up that it has a big cult following, so maybe I should consider trying it one day.  The sequel, Chō Genjin 2 (Super Bonk 2) for the Super Famicom, was never released outside of Japan.  Recently I imported this game, and I've got to say, I was really surprised at how it turned out.

Bonk's dark night rises
In this sidescrolling action-platformer, Bonk is once again trying to save his world from the evil clutches of the reptilian king, who once more is threatening the prehistoric era.  Boy, you'd think that after being defeated four times prior that he would take a hint.  This time, you also get to face his five best soldiers, who will try to stop you in your tracks.  Bonk controls rather smoothly, and he is really fun to control.  To those of you that are not familiar with the series, Bonk is a caveman who attacks his enemies with his noggin; after jumping down, from below, while swimming, and while in the air.  He can even bounce off walls with his head, skip on the water like a stone if his head is facing down, climb certain walls with his teeth, scale up waterfalls, flip in the air (so long as the attack button is repeatedly being tapped), and so forth.  As is the case with the series, you start with a regular amount of health, but if you find a translucent heart icon, you'll increase your capacity.  What's neat is how collecting the food not only scores you some points but how it also replenishes a little bit of your health, too.  This time Bonk can also run if you hold down the A button, and the X button is used if you have a special ability on you.  If you find a power-up, whether it be piece of meat, or a different icon, then you will be given a power-up ability that will be taken out the moment you're hit once (damn).  Among the power-ups are the one where the fire will be spreading if Bonk hits his head on the ground (you know, the one where he looks freaky), one where Bonk turns into a bird and gains the ability to fly, one where Bonk becomes tiny and can make platforms made out of Japanese characters, and there is one where Bonk has the ability to double-jump as a girl.  Yes, Bonk becomes a girl if he eats the pink-colored meat.  I'm dead serious.

Yummy, yummy, yummy!  I've got
bugs in my tummy!
The world of Chō Genjin 2 looks very appealing, and is a big departure of the series, visually.  On one hand, it's largely reminiscent of the previous PC-Engine games, but on the other hand, the visual style looks all refined and fresh, and it's all pleasing to the eye.  Now this time around there is a map screen which is designed quite nicely, simple though it may be.  Each area looks really good, and there's a good of amount of variety.  For starters, the first area looks like it takes place in a beach-like setting, while the second one takes place in a jungle-like environment with water flowing on there.  In one area you're set in a Western-like exposition (anachronism, I love it), and in another you're venturing forth in a volcano-laden place.  One area that stands out from the rest is the cemetary.  At the start, Bonk is struck by lightning, dies, and turns into a zombie that can roam around even with zero hearts.  The only way to revive him is by filling up his entire health with food and heart power-ups.  It's an eerily dark, atmospherically morbid area where thunder strikes from time to time; and while that happens, you'll second-long glimpses of mountains changing grimaces and the round trees sprouting eyeballs.  It's linear and short, but awesome while it lasts.  You and the enemies in this stage are transparent so long as you're a zombie.  The animations are good, the enemies and bosses look great, and the stages have good layout design.  A lot of the music is sweet, catchy, and fun to listen to, including the map and boss themes.

Bonk has never looked more frightening
than he does here!  D=

The game is pretty manageable, and the length is decent and just right.  In most stages there are checkpoints represented by flowers, and the only way for them to be enabled is by hitting them, which wind up sprouting into a beautiful flower and have a big smile.  Unlike the first two games where if you lost a life you picked up at the exact spot you died, you have to start from the checkpoint once you lost a life.  So if you died during a boss fight earlier in the game, then you have to start over from the sunny flower checkpoint.  I don't know if that's the case with the original Super Bonk, although it is a nice change that's not frustrating.  Through inspection would lead to a secret power-up, a life, or even a tulip that takes you to the bonus area.  The bonus area you play is random, as there's a wheel of five bonus games, and the one it's pointed to is the one you go to.  Each involve Bonk's different ability and must score as much as you can in the allotted time; in one bonus game as a froggy Bonk you have to eat up all the flies before time expires, and in another you're bird Bonk who must pop all the balloons before it's over.  In certain stages there are neat forms of challenge, and the bosses pose a good amount of challenge, especially the penultimate one.  Like the other games, the final stage is a boss rehash leading up to the final boss, but at least there are portions that lead up to those battles.  The final encounter with the reptilian king is split up into three parts, with the bulk of the action occuring during the second part.  The third part of the battle is mindless fun.  You know what the best part about this battle with the reptilian king is?  No cheap tactics involved!!  =D
Finally a final boss in a Bonk game that's not a frustrating battle of attrition!  This is the greatest thing to ever occur in the series!  Yay!!!  =D  Sorry, got off-topic.  =|  If I were asked to give this game a score from 1 to 10, it would definitely get a 9!  So far I've beaten it twice, and both times I had a real blast.  The locations are fun, the charm is ever so appealing (if not freaky at times), the stage designs are creative, and I feel that the gameplay was even more polished than the other games I played.  My only gripe is that if you lose all your lives on a certain stage, then you have to start said stage over again, and depending on the longevity it can be incredibly annoying (do not get a game over on the final stage, or you must start all the way from the beginning).  What's cool is that there's a password system in case you feel like taking a break and do not feel like starting all over (though it is possible to beat it in one sitting).  I wonder if the last game had a password system?  Well, I won't know until I play it.  Anyway, this game is so fun to play, and it reminded me a lot of the PC-Engine Bonk games; out of the three games I played in the series, this one's the best.  Not only is it a topnotch platformer, but it is second only to DoReMi Fantasy: Milon no DokiDoki Daibōken, as far as games made by Hudson Soft are concerned.  Hudson Soft has done a bang-up job with Bonk this time.

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