Interviews: Hudson Entertainment/Pi Studios - Bonk: Brink of Extinction

Hudson and Pi Studios talk about their new Bonk title.

With the recent announcement from Hudson that they were creating a brand new adventure for our lovable caveman hero, we knew it was time to get in touch with them and find out more information about their upcoming WiiWare release Bonk: Brink of Extinction.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Andrew Plempel, Producer at Hudson Entertainment and Jeremy Statz, Lead Designer at Pi Studios, and they were kind enough to answer a few of our nagging questions about their newest WiiWare project. You can find out everything they had to say to us in the exclusive Nintendo Life interview below.

Nintendo Life: How long has Bonk: Brink of Extinction been in development?

Andrew Plempel: We have currently been in development for 4 months now.

NL: With so many classic Hudson franchises to draw on, why was Bonk chosen as the next to receive the WiiWare remake treatment?

Plempel: Because Bonk is probably the most iconic Hudson character (besides Bomberman and Master Higgins) that has not received this treatment. How could we ignore that adorable caveman anymore?

NL: Will Brink of Extinction feature the same gameplay system as in the original games or can we expect some new ideas in the mix?

Plempel: You can definitely expect a mix of the old gameplay as well as new features. Bonk will still have all his old powers: the meat, air spins and wall climbs. We have added some new powers though. Bonk will now come across transform tokens that will give him new powers like the ability to breathe fire and ice.

Jeremy Statz: Some of these are holdovers from the previous Bonk games – Bonk 3 had Tiny Bonk, for example. The big difference here is that Bonk can switch between the different forms as needed, they're no longer a 30-second one-off pickup item. Bonk has a limited amount of power and making use of his transformations reduces that, while certain items increase it.

NL: The original Bonk titles were famous for their mini-games. Can we expect to see more of these in this new release?

Plempel: You know it! We’ve hidden entrances to mini-games in just about every level.

Stentz: We've got several bonus-round stages implemented, weeded out from close to 15 that we experimented with. There's entrances to them scattered all around the game, just look for the crazy tiki head.

NL: The visual style using in this update is quite a contrast to the 16-bit visuals of the original releases? Was this a concerted effort to bring up it up date for today’s audience?

Plempel: Totally – while games like mega man 9 decided to keep a retro look and feel, we felt that Bonk really need a facelift. The 16-bit world that he came from is now much more lush and impressive when drawn in 3D.

Statz: This was very intentional, yes. We wanted to make a game with deep and vibrant backgrounds that payed homage to the older titles where possible, and which has a painterly and somewhat dreamy feel in places. In contrast, the characters are kept simpler and more cartoony, so they contrast well.

NL: We understand that development for this game was done in the USA. Were any of the developers that worked on the TurboGrafx-16 Bonk releases involved at all?

Plempel: Unfortunately, no. But we are working with Pi studios who are huge Bonk fans themselves. They’ve done a terrific job of re-creating and improving upon the classic TurboGrafx-16 gameplay that everyone remembers.

NL: Will there be any online functionality such as multiplayer or leaderboards?

Plempel: We do indeed have MP and Leaderboard support. The initial download will allow for online co-op and we have some competitive multiplayer planned for PDLC.

Statz: Both local and online multiplayer are supported. This is actually drop-in style so the second player can pick up a controller and hit start at any time, like an old arcade game. If you've got an active internet connection leaderboards are updated automatically, and we've even got a combo system in for scoring that should add some complexity to high-score runs in you're into that type of thing.

NL: What controllers are supported in the game and will there be any Wii Remote-specific gameplay controls in the game?

Plempel: You can expect to be able to play Bonk with the wii-remote held sideways, but other than that there won’t be any fancy motion controlling within the game. We did brainstorm a few ideas but in the end they just felt tacked on, and did not feel like an organic part of the game.

NL: This updated title will obviously appeal to classic Bonk fans, but what do you think will make the game appeal to gamers who are new to the series?

Statz: Anyone who appreciates classic platforming gameplay can get into BOE. We've kept a lot of the classic game's gameplay but have smoothed out a lot of its hard edges – movement and jumping feels more fluid than in the TG-16 games, for example. The newcomers I've shown the game to at the office tend to immediately get into the cute characters and colorful environments, so I think it has a lot of immediate appeal just on a visual level as well.

NL: Can you reveal the release date or price point in mind at the moment?

Plempel: Early 2010, and 800MS points or $10 (1000 Wii Points).

NL: What kind of response did the recent Adventure Island game on WiiWare receive from Hudson fans?

Plempel: They loved it.

NL: Are you currently considering bringing any more classic Hudson franchises to the WiiWare or DSiWare services?

Plempel: We have a few ides in the works but they are really at a high level state so we’re not even sure what platforms they would be positioned on.

NL: Is there anything you'd like to say to our readers in closing?

Statz: We've really put a lot into making the game look and feel like a new product, while still staying true to the older games' roots. I'm excited to see what everybody says on release!

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Plempel and Mr. Statz for taking time out of their schedules to take part in this interview for Nintendo Life. It's much appreciated.