Feature: Bonk for President! (April 1992)



As March of 1992 came to a close, NEC Home Electronics officially relinquished control of marketing and distributing TurboGrafx-16. A new company, called TurboTechnologies, Inc. (TTi) was created on April 1, 1992 to take over the reins. TTi—a joint venture of NEC Corporation and Hudson Soft Limited—would continue promoting the TG-16 as they prepared to launch the new TurboDuo console in a few short months (October of 1992). Why was TTi founded on April Fool's Day? Did this reveal TTi's sense of humor, or was it a foreshadowing of things to come? Apparently, TTi had a sense of humor, as evidenced by their first marketing stunt…

 PRINT you own "Bonk for Prez" Bumpersticker today! "Bonk Tosses Hat in Race" was a blurb of news buried on page 22 of the April 1992 issue of Video Games & Computer Entertainment (VG&CE). Savvy readers across North America promptly commented, "What's this? Bonk doesn't even wear hats! Sunglasses, perhaps, but definitely not hats…"

In the press release, TTi announced "the formation of the B.O.N.K. (Believe in Our Nation's Kids) political party and revealed that Bonk is running for President of the United States."

The press release continued, "According to Bonk spokespersons, the caveman is running on a kid's platform and pledged to campaign for issues that children think are important. Bonk will be whistle-stopping in Los Angeles and New York, gathering opinions, and kids can also write to him at: Bonk Campaign Headquarters, Attention: Campaign Manager, 110 Pine Avenue, Suite 510, Long Beach, CA 90802."  VIEW SOURCE

PRINT YOUR OWN BUMPERSTICKER: You can print a SMALL bumpersticker (8 1/2" x 11" letter-size paper) or a LARGE bumpersticker (8 1/2" x 14" legal-size paper). Display them with pride!

 2-minute project…  All the supplies you'll need…  Avoid creating air bubbles!  Finished.

After printing and trimming the paper to size, you should laminate it. If you do not have access to a fancy machine, simply use packing tape (be careful not to create air bubbles!) to laminate. You can trim the laminate, but leave at least 1/2" border around the paper to ensure a watertight seal. Slap this laminated abomination on a bumper of your choice (double-sided tape works well). I suggest placing an additional layer of packing tape over everything to seal it to the bumper (allow tape to create a 1" border around the perimeter). Yes, this is a poor-man's project only the most desperate will attempt.

Since magazines such as VG&CE usually had a lead time of one to three months, we know the "Bonk for President" campaign was hatched prior to TTi's formal date of inception. Ultimately, then, we do not know who to praise (or scorn) for this idea. Was it a final, desperate, half-hearted attempt by NEC Home Electronics? Or was it a goofy gag fresh from TTi? Supposedly, TTi went so far as to print bumperstickers (see image above). Since this entire episode plays off like an April Fool's gag, it has been difficult to determine what actually happened.

Surprisingly, "Bonk for President" was the only morsel of TG-16 content to be found in the entire April 1992 issue of VG&CE. How dissapointing! Thankfully, the April 1992 issue of EGM offered malnourished TG-16 fans a few more scraps…


There was something for everyone in this issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly: coupons, FMV, shoot-em-ups, run-n-guns, futuristic air hockey and, perhaps most interesting of all…a two-page spread on the next title Working Designs was localizing for North America.
 EGM April '92 and Software Etc. Coupon

• Coupons for $5 off Andre Panza & Turrican at Software Etc. The TurboExpress is still commanding a $299.99 price tag, although folks can choose four games (purportedly worth $90.99) for free, but the list of titles to choose from is decidedly short: PacLand, Vigilante, Victory Run, Power Golf, Fantasy Zone and Alien Crush. Observant readers will notice that Bonk's Revenge is displayed on the TurboExpress.

• It Came From the Desert: 4.75/10. Ballistix: 5.50/10. Reviewers were not impressed with the execution of these two games. For example, "Ballistix suffers from poor control and the game's inability to always translate controller movements into onscreen action." Criticism towards It Came From the Desert was only slightly less damning, with one reviewer even asking, "Since when do bikes have radios?" Apparently he did not find Sea of Love (right-click to save mp3) as captivating a song as I did. Oh well. If only Terence Kirby had performed more songs written by Kenneth Melville back in the early 90's. I'd be happier. Forget about Hall & Oates, I want Kirby & Mellville.

• Shubibinman 3 (CD) released in Japan. In North America, "Overhauled Man" was used by the press until TTi wittingly re-branded the series as simply "Shockman." Supposedly, both TTi and Working Designs were interested in bringing Shubibinman 3 across the Pacific. While most folks refer to Shockman, excuse me, Shubibinman, as a lackluster attempt to emulate Capcom's Megaman, I can't help but feel that Shubibinman 3 inspired Treasure to create Gunstar Heroes. Poppycock! Nonsense! you say? Perhaps. Or perhaps Gunstar Heroes is the spiritual heir to the throne of Shubibinman 3.

 Rayxanber III and Shubibinman 3

• Dragons & Wizards…Oh My! Ys III: Wanderers from Ys was released on many platforms, but only the SNES version was graced with a tagline this bad. Plus, Adol looks like an evil sonovabitch in the coverart. Trivia: When it comes to goofy taglines, IGS's "Shoot 'em or Scoot 'em" provides some stiff competition to American Sammy's "Dragons & Wizards…Oh My!" IGS never saw the need to change their tagline and ran the same Sinistron + Tricky Kick ad for months-on-end in TurboPlay Magazine. American Sammy, on the other hand, eventually revised the tagline in their advertisement to simply read "Discover Ys." Less corny, for sure, but was it an improvement? Only one thing is certain: "Discover Ys" sounds like a slogan that would please the Tourism Committee of Esteria.

• Rayxanber III (CD) set for June '92 release in Japan. Data West's third and final installment in the Rayxanber series. The first game was exclusive to FM-Towns (a computer platform in Japan), while the second and third installments were exclusive to the PC-Engine.

• Cosmic Fantasy 2 for TurboGrafx-CD. Working Designs made history with this title, but don't be fooled by the May '92 release date listed on the page. Actually, work had only just begun in April. A more accurate chronology can be gleaned from Working Designs' (now defunct) website: "1992 - Working Designs signs a publishing agreement with Telenet Japan Co., Ltd., for the TurboGrafx-CD game Cosmic Fantasy 2. Localization work begins in April, and the product is released in September, making Working Designs the first-ever third-party publisher of CD-ROM video game software in the United States."


As you can imagine, the two-page spread on Cosmic Fantasy 2 was pretty darn exciting for TG-16 fans back in the day. These days, many folks deride the cumbersome play mechanics of Cosmic Fantasy 2 (insert a list of generic complaints here, peppered liberally with adjectives like "crusty", "archaic", "tedious", etc.). These are valid critiques, for sure, although I can't shake the feeling that many detractors are simply intimidated by CF2's challenge, preferring instead to be pampered by RPG's.

These days, why would anyone bother playing Cosmic Fantasy 2?

Simply put, the story, characters and cinemas in Cosmic Fantasy 2 are charming and unforgettable, even today. Yes, CF2's story is just as magical today in our jaded, modern world as it was back in the Dark Ages. Perhaps it is even more charming today.

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