Bonk first appeared in a series of four-panel comics strips on the pages of PC Engine Monthly. The magazine featured comics of upcoming games until a time in 1989 when it was converted to feature PC Genjin, a new character designed by Kobuta Aoki of the Red Company. The name PC Genjin was a spoof of the system that the magazine covered, PC Engine. The new character, a genjin, meaning primitive man or caveman, was a hit. Popularity of the comic increased to the point that Hudson Soft and Red decided to make a game based on the character, which would serve as the system's mascot, much like Mario for Nintendo and Sonic for Sega. Like the other two mascots, Bonk was introduced to the gaming world in a side-scrolling platformer. Hudson and Red worked with Atlus to develop a came featuring Bonk in a colorful world similar to the ones found in one of Hudson's other franchises, Adventure Island. The project was accelerated to the point that Atlus only had three months to develop the game and thus employees performed many late night and marathon weekend coding sessions. The developers were still able to have fun as the enemies in the game were caricatures of Atlus and Hudson Soft executives. For such a short development time, the results were quite impressive. Bonk's Adventure was very well received by critics, winning several awards in 1990: "Turbografx-16 Game of the Year" by Game Player's Magazine, "Most Exciting New Theme of 1990" by Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine, "Special Achievement Award" from OMNI Magazine, and "Best Action Video Game of 1990" by Video Games & Computer Entertainment Magazine. Gamers also appreciated the title, with US gamers buying more copies than any other game since the TurboGrafx's launch. Building on the success, Hudson Soft released two sequels on the TurboGrafx-16 before the platform failed. In 1992, Hudson Soft and Red developed a side-scrolling shooter featuring a cyborg descendent of Bonk. Perhaps designed as a response to Sega's new Sonic mascot, Zonk was intended to be a "cooler" punk version of Bonk and sported sunglasses. Shortly after the release of Air Zonk, Bonk was replaced by Air Zonk as mascot of the Turbo systems and was featured in advertisements were Bonk was once displayed. Just as Sega eventually brought Sonic to other systems, Bonk was given even more adventures on NES, Game Boy, and SNES. In 2003, Hudson Soft remade PC Genjin for GameCube and PS2.
Source: TurboPlay June/July 1992 page 14.
Bonk's name has always been different between regions. However, his name wasn't even consistent for Japanese releases. Bonk was given a new name on almost every system since PC Genjin would not make sense on other systems. His name changed to FC Genjin on the Famicom, GB Genjin on the Game Boy, and Chou Genjin on the Super Famicom. In addition, Bonk was often referred to as PC Kid, a moniker that was even featured in a Japanese commercial for the first PC Genjin game. A new name for the character was chosen for North America since PC Genjin would not make sense without the PC Engine or an understanding of Japanese. US localizers settled on "Bonk," a name describing the primary attack method of the character that also conveyed his cartoony nature. Unlike in Japan, Bonk's name has always been consistent across all platforms. For European releases, Bonk's name was changed again to "B.C. Kid." As a slight alteration of P.C. Kid that would make much more sense to English-speaking gamers, it is likely that Bonk's name was changed due to alternate meanings for the word "bonk" in British English. Continuing the PC Engine spoof, Air Zonk's Japanese name was "PC Denjin" meaning electric man or humanoid robot, cyborg. For the CD release of PC Denjin, his name was changed to CD Denjin. However, PC Genjin 3 was not released on CD in Japan, so there was never a CD Genjin.
Bonk is a caveman and scientists classify cavemen like all organisms, giving them a genus and species. The creators of Bonk decided that the PC in PC Genjin should have a meaning, so they subtitled the original game "Pithecanthropus Computerurus." Computerurus is an obviously fake "Latin" word derived from "PC," or personal computer. Pithecanthropus was a one-time genus classification of bones found in Java in 1891, and named as such since it was thought to be an evolutionary link between apes and humans. Pithecanthropus Erectus is now classified as Homo Erectus. It is interesting to note that Bonk's second form according the The GameCube and PS2 remake was PC Enjin, which translates to ape-man or pithecanthrope. When Bonk's Adventure was ported to the Famicom, with Bonk's name changed to FC Genjin, the subtitle was changed to another fake Latin name, "Freakthoropus Computerus" in the game or "Friendthropus Computerurus" on the box art-- they couldn't even keep the names consistent on the same game! Air Zonk, or PC Denjin in Japan, also sported a subtitle, though PC represented "Punkic Cyborgs" in this case since Zonk and his cohorts were punk cyborgs. The subtitles were dropped for the GB Genjin and Chou Genjin games, but they appeared again for the GameCube and PS2 remake since the game was again called PC Genjin.
Character and Location Guide
In the future, this section will cover all characters and locations of all Bonk games.