Game music of the day: Air Zonk

Game: Air Zonk
Song: Title Music

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 priceyand relativelyindistinguishablefrom 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 outblazing 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 aSega 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: HowI 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 manufacturedsolely to compete with the “Hip" "New" "Attitude” Sonic the Hedgehog was hosing down the competition with. (I wasn’t wrong. It wasadmittedly intentional design choice, and Zonk was eventually sent forthto 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 scenarioperfectly, 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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