Game music of the day: Air Zonk

Game: Air Zonk
Song: Title Music
Composer: Unknown

CAUTION: This may blow your mind!

Like most of you, I’m also one of the billion or so who people didn’t have a TurboGrafix-16. Hudson’s unsuccessful stab at console glory was a bit too pricey and relatively indistinguishable from the more established, “underpowered” consoles, in spite of a superior color palette. The music is a different story.

Nintendo was mostly cranking out peppy-step tunes suitable for the whole family, yet Genesis muzak was taking a bolder leap towards the future of VGM, kicking out blazing beats, wailing guitars and many other timeless melodies… unfortunately most of them sounded like they were filtered through a metal trash can lined with wax paper. Some unholy hybrid of a snare drum and a digital kazoo made many a Sega jam come across “tinny,” as if being listened to through a single blown out speaker while being electrocuted. Oh, the TurboGrafix-16? They didn’t have that problem.

Above: How I saw the situation

You’ll have to forgive my history lesson, because to be completely honest, I’d never played Air Zonk before hearing this song. The character seemed like a laughably cyberpunk, heartlessly altered version of Bonk manufactured solely to compete with the “Hip" "New" "Attitude” Sonic the Hedgehog was hosing down the competition with. (I wasn’t wrong. It was admittedly intentional design choice, and Zonk was eventually sent forth to replace his more beloved caveman brother as the Turbo-Duo’s mascot.) Unfortunately, my pubescent cynicism kept me from playing an incredibly gorgeous shoot ‘em up from Red Company, the devs behind the acclaimed Gate of Thunder series. And not only does Air Zonk feature music well ahead of its time, it can lay claim to one the greatest opening sequences every crammed into a wallet-sized game cartridge!

The game hadn’t crossed my mind in years until I was searching for music to play during TalkRadar, our filthy, stupid - yet redeemably VGM enhanced! - podcast. I’ve yet to get it out of my head ever since. Players started the game by selecting one of ten companions to fight alongside Zong and the song fits that scenario perfectly, as it immediately conjures an 80s montage in my head where the hero has had e-f***ing-nough! and rounds up all his pals to kick the bad guy's ass. Check it out for yourself, Air Zonk is avaiable on Virtual Console.

Aug 3, 2010

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  • Austin_SJ - August 4, 2010 6:13 p.m.

    Consider me Zonked. Someone should add some vocals to this and release it as a cartoon theme song.
  • philipshaw - August 4, 2010 10:06 a.m.

    That song kicks ass,has more clarity than most of the 8 and 16 bit stuff in these articles
  • Tenfey - August 4, 2010 2:04 a.m.

    Boy, you know that I ain't never not dun played on of dem dare turbo graffix riggs (I reckon). That music hain't bad though.
  • goochbiscuit - August 4, 2010 1:02 a.m.

    Wow, I really enjoyed that. Thanks for introducing me to something new, Chris. recaptcha: 130 squats Hm, I kinda feel like going to the gym now.
  • GamesRadarChrisAntista - August 4, 2010 12:41 a.m.

    Awesome! So glad to see a couple of you liked the jam as much as I did.
  • CH3BURASHKA - August 4, 2010 12:19 a.m.

    I fired up the track in the background whilst I surfed the net. No joke, I forgot I was listening to an old TG-16 MIDI(?) and thought it was an actual song - that's how good it is.
  • foxyexplosion - August 3, 2010 10:50 p.m.

    Sweet music. As a side note, in the picture with the big zonk it looks like his tongue has a vulva attached to it.
  • enlargedhousecats - August 3, 2010 10:21 p.m.

    best song I heard all day.
  • shyfonzie - August 3, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    Man, that game picture looks like a joke. Just everbody wearing shitty sunglasses. FUCK THAT HEDGEHOG!! WE GOT ATTITUDE!! But that is some swell music, Chris. So we'll be hearing this on Talkradar?
  • litrock - August 3, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    The Turbografx had a lot of issues, but its music was never one of them. The machine could do some pretty amazing things. That said, I haven't played Air Zonk myself. I didn't really care for Bonk outside of the 2nd one.
  • ThatOneself - August 3, 2010 9:33 p.m.

    Awesome to finally see some TG-16 love. Such a fun game.
  • juicenpancakes - August 3, 2010 9:32 p.m.

    That music stings the ears. In a good way.
  • Cyberninja - August 3, 2010 9:29 p.m.

    that is amazing if thats what it sounded like back in the earlier 90s

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