After being absent for decades, Hudson is bringing Bonk back to consoles with Bonk: Brink of Extinction. While the game keeps the classic headbutting and platforming gameplay, Hudson modernized Bonk a bit. We sat down with Peter Dassenko, Producer, to talk about Bonk’s evolution.
How did development of Bonk: Brink of Extinction start?
Peter Dassenko, Producer: Internally it had been documented as a Wii Game, a DS Game and finally a Digital Download game. So the version you’re playing (or will play) is a combination of many different ideas from each of the platforms we’d made a design document for.
During planning stages, did you have any other ideas for the story, gameplay, or style of Bonk’s revival?
Not really. The look was always going to be 3D. There were Wii as well as DS specific controls depending on the design document. The game was longer when it was a full console or DS title.
What did Red Entertainment contribute to the development of the game?
Red signed off on the character models (Bonk, Enemies, Bosses) and has had some review feedback throughout the process. They’ve been great to work with but haven’t been heavily involved in the day-to-day or the majority of the creative process.
Games have changed a lot since Bonk’s heyday. What modern gameplay mechanics did you add in?
The main addition that I guess I’d consider modern is the double-jump. Rendering a game that was originally in 2D into 3D automatically makes it feel more modern.
All of the other Bonk platformers had sprite graphics. Why did you want to use 3D models instead?
We felt it was time. Reviving an older title by rendering it as it was just didn’t seem appropriate in this case. We wanted to reboot the series and decided on a complete overhaul of the presentation. While the basic mechanics remain the same the look was due for an upgrade.
Transformations, especially the cavegirl switch for the Japanese versions, are a series hallmark. What can Bonk transform to in this game?
Bonk’s transformations work a little differently in the current iteration. Power-ups are attacks with different effects. From blowing bubbles to spitting fire & ice each one has a unique effect on enemies. In keeping with the wackiness of Bonk – each transform transforms his head. For example, the Soapy Mouth Bonk turns Bonk’s head into a bar of soap – which also is a visual clue to the player that they can capture enemies in bubbles. You might also want to use the bubbles to get to hard to reach areas.
Since cooperative play is a key feature, did you design levels with areas that you can only reach with two players?
Yes. Some levels are designed so that accessing certain areas is easier with a friend. They’re also designed in a way that requires the use of power-ups that you might not have on the first play through.
Bonk: Brink of Extinction is coming to three downloadable platforms. What kind of obstacles did you run into while you were working with the features and limitations between platforms?
We always have to develop for the lowest hardware – which is the Wii. With the Wii there’s always a discussion of to use or not to use the motion controls. I prefer not to try to put motion controls onto a game just because they exist. So, Bonk is controlled with the Wii Mote. Other than that, the Xbox & PS3 don’t have limitations – so for us every project is thinking about how to fit what we want to do onto the Wii.
When I saw Bonk: Brink of Extinction awhile ago I heard you were considering level packs for DLC. Can you tell us more about these?
All I can say for now is that we are excited about the three DLC packs we have planned to launch at and after the launch of the main game.
I like Bonk, but what about his robotic descendant, Zonk. Are there any plans to bring him back?
If you buy lots of copies of Bonk, we can fund the development of Zonk. So, buy 2 on each platform you own. I’m not sure I can divulge plans or any lack of plans as to the future of Zonk. I do think it’s difficult to make a successful shmup these days.
On second thought, Hudson has a large library of intellectual properties. Are there any other series you would like to revive?
I would love to revive Cho Aniki. Also Bloody Roar. And maybe Kato & Ken1. So start requesting Cho Aniki – so I can make my game development dreams come true.
1Kato & Ken was released as J.J. & Jeff in North America.