Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Bonk?!? Nope, it's actually Zonk, a futuristic cyber-punk hero of the future known for donning shades at night and chucking the deuce up (to use the parlance of our times) as he soars victorious through the sky.
Air Zonk is a cartoon like, side scrolling, single-player shooter released for TurboGraphx-16 in 1992. Air Zonk features many of the characters of the original "Bonk" franchise, such as Evil King Drool, who has sent deranged robots to do his evil bidding. Luckily, Zonk and his shades sporting crew are ready for battle.
Many questions surround the sudden appearance of our protuberant headed hero. I personally think that Bonk was contacted by Morpheus and opted to take the red pill (explaining the flying and cool sunglasses). Others contend that Zonk's character was an attempt by developers to modernize TurboGraphx-16's prehistoric mascot Bonk, a theory supported by the fact that Zonk would eventually end up replacing Bonk as the TurboGraphx-16's elder statesman in promotional materials.
While flying through the air as Zonk, players will do battle with King Drool's minions by shooting green sludge out of Zonk's sunglasses. Seriously. Green sludge. Luckily there are power-ups to augment Zonk's weapons, and hopefully you won't be shooting sludge for long. Air Zonk is moderately challenging and fun to play. The bosses can be especially difficult when confronted without the benefit of a weapon upgrade.
Up graded weapons include a missile shooting glove, a bladed boomerang, and a wide dispersing playing card attack. There is also an augment that makes Zonk smaller in addition to granting a homing bullet. Weapon Augments appear in the form of prehistoric looking floating test tubes. If Zonk is hit after receiving a weapon augment he will lose the augment, but will not die. Zonk also has a secondary fire available that, when charged, can shoot a large projectile, and when fully charged will drop a bomb that reliably destroys most enemies on the screen.
Companion characters are a huge asset for Zonk and can be utilized to devastate the cronies of King Drool. If the player has a favorite companion character the opening menu enables you to select that character as your designated companion. You can also opt out of using companions altogether at the start menu. Destroying enemies will sometimes result in a smiling coin shaped power-up to appear. These power-ups provide points. The seventh successive smiley face power-up to appear (occurring when you obtain six without dying) is very large in size and will grant you a companion. There are several different companions, but they all function very similarly. Companions initially hover around Zonk while constantly shooting projectiles. If while teaming up with a companion Zonk can get an additional seven smiley face power-ups, then Zonk and his companion will form like Voltron into an instrument of destruction. While in this form Zonk typically shoots very large projectiles in quick succession.
Dodging in Zonk is as vital as it is in any side scrolling shooter. Keeping to the left side of the screen helps Zonk dodge enemies and projectiles, especially when confronted with huge bosses that occupy 60% of the screen. The mini-Zonk power-up is also very helpful as it shrinks Zonk and forms him into a smaller target. Unfortunately if Zonk is hit when shrunk he will die as if he had no power-up to take.
There are three different difficulty settings that are accessible from the start screen. Sweet mode will grant the player four lives, bitter mode will grant two lives, and spicy mode will grant zero lives. Upon losing all lives the player is given the option to continue. Continuing the game will start the player back at the first stage.