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LONG BLOG

PS1 REVIEWS: The Misadventures of Tron Bonne

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The original Mega Man Legends game introduced fans to a charming world that strongly evoked Saturday Morning cartoons and anime, and that unique charm earned it a deserved fandom despite its gameplay shortcomings. One of the biggest charming points of that game was the mischievous Bonne Sky Pirates family, with the middle sister, Tron Bonne, becoming an instant classic character along with the yellow Lego-like minions, the Servebots.

Recognizing the potential of these characters, Capcom made a complete spin-off starring the Bonne Family and their small army of Servebots, anchoring the whole thing on their charm. Unsurprisingly, to anyone who played games in the series, that charm is strong enough to pull the game beyond its modest gameplay elements into something truly special and worth playing.

#A52: The Misadventures of Tron Bonne:-
Year: 1999.
Genre: Action Adventure, Puzzles, Mini-Games.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to a simpler 10 point system. Games that get above a 7 I fully recommend, and those that get below that are mostly a waste of time. That leaves the score of 7 to depend on your taste.

"Loath's men... They said that if we can't pay back our debt, they'll make us work it off... sniff"

Despite hanging much of the game's narrative hook on the Bonne family, the game's overall narrative is a bit lacking. In some way, it mirrors the limited story of Mega Man Legends before it expands drastically in the sequel. Yet, unlike that game, I didn't feel that lack of an overall narrative thrust to be a deterrent to this story. In fact, it fits what we can imagine as an "episodic" show featuring the "Misadventures" of these pirates.

Starting with a semi-illegal dig, the elder brother finds himself captured by the loan shark, Loath. Apparently, Tiesel Bonne borrowed one million Zennies to finance rebuilding their pirate fleet (I am assuming after Mega Man trashes them in the first game), but couldn't pay back the loan in time. As such, it falls on Tron to do what's necessary to collect the funds. Tron and her army of Servebots that is.

Don't be too excited Servebots

You do so by going into several missions to get some cash. From robbing banks and ports to digging for treasure and rustling cattle, you will have to do whatever you can to collect the necessary funds. Unfortunately, not all missions have their own narrative and characters, with only two missions actually contributing something to the story.

Instead, it is the character of Tron and the Servebots and the charming interactions between them that propels the whole narrative. Tron alternates between being sweet and cruel, all to hide a genuinely caring personality welded to some genius-level engineering skills. As for the Servebots, these are cowardly robots that are desperate for appreciation and attention, and also are brave robots that are selfless in their devotion. The contradiction between personalities, as well as the evil you do as a pirate vs. the ostensibly nice vibe you project, is at the heart of this game's charm.

It's not going to be easy

Of course, this wouldn't be possible if not for some seriously good dialogue and extensive voice acting for all the characters involved. Seriously, this is some great level of voice acting, especially when it comes to the various Servebot actors, and they manage to convey the pathetic adorableness of these minions extremely well.

"Miss Tron, do we have t? What if it's a really big and scary Reaverbot?"

As you may have guessed with the variable nature of the missions you need to get funds, there is a variety in gameplay modes as well. In fact, the game itself designates each mission with a "genre" of sorts. The main gameplay method, which is featured in three missions as well as the final encounter, is the 3rd Person Action Adventure mode fans of the Legends games are familiar with.

In this mode, designated as "Action" mode, you control Tron's big bipedal Robot and walk around in 3D space like in any Action-Adventure game. unfortunately, the advances made to this system in Mega Man Legends 2 were not yet implemented, and so movements and the locking-on actions are not as smooth as the latter game but better than the first. At least, with the big Gustaff robot, it makes more sense to be less nimble.

Other than your main weapon, you can also use a "Beacon Bomb" to order around six Servebots to attack, gather, and serve. These Servebots come with their statistics and special skills and are indestructible and selfless allies. Generally, the game isn't really difficult, and this mode is just an excuse to wreck stuff with the Gustaff and your adorable Servebots.

The Servebots can be your best offensive (and defensive) weapon

Another mode is the "Puzzle" genre, which turns the game into a block movement puzzle game. While the first mission is straightforward with its puzzles, the second gets significantly harder by introducing more elements to moving the blocks. These are fun changes of pace, but they are just a taste of what a true puzzle game can be like.

The third mode is designated as "RPG" mode and is only present in one mission. What's interesting about this mode is that the Servebots get center-stage, and there is a small dungeon-crawling element to it as well as an interesting story in the mission itself. Unfortunately, while the story and ensuing Servebot interactions are certainly worthwhile, the gameplay itself is a little bit repetitive and boring.

Arguably, the variety in modes is a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are multiple modes and you can skip what you don't like (you don't need to complete all missions to collect the necessary funds). I the other hand, it keeps the game from going deep into any of these modes in a way a traditional game would.

The puzzle game is ok, but it feels out of place

For instance, I feel there is lost potential in what could have been done with the Action-Adventure gameplay utilizing the Servebots, and an entire game could have been built just on that mechanic alone.

"Yes, there is enough, but there's this little thing called "interest", you see?'"

Outside of the actual missions themselves, the other major element in the gameplay is the preparation aspect. As the temporary captain of the Bonne crew, you are responsible for developing the capabilities of both your equipment and crew.

This means spending some of your hard-earned Zennies on weapon and health upgrades for the Gustaf, that is after first procuring the necessary items through scouting raids and the main missions.

Other than that, you can check around the rooms in your ain ship, conversing with the Servebots and unlocking their hidden skills. That level of interaction helps you get closer to the Servebots, and with 40 of them, each with their slight take on the Servebot personality, it's seriously fun.

The mini-games are fun, but needing to repeat them many times can get stale

One aspect that starts out fun is when you get to train the strength and speed of your minions in two interesting mini-games. These mini-games are fun the first time you train four or five Servebots with. However, later, it gets extremely repetitive if you want to completely train all of your crew. Thankfully, some items you can get by scouting (a free mission that runs while playing the game) can help alleviate the grind.

To be fair to the game, you never actually need to fully train all of your crew. By the end, you just need six or seven fully trained minions. The same can be said about upgrading the Gustaf and finishing all the missions; there is more money than you need to finish the game.

Ultimately, despite not having much depth, developing the Servebots and going on missions with them helps hammer home the main gimmick of the game, that is being part of The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.

"We'll make him sorry he ever heard the name "Bonne!" Ha ha ha ha"

Being a PS1 3D game, you would be excused for immediately assuming that the game may aged terribly and be really ugly. However, like the rest of the series, this is some of the best 3D graphics works of the generation.

It becomes obvious why that is the case when you consider the design of the Servebots.

These yellow Lego-like minions have a simple, but distinctive shape. When they animate, they make exaggerated animations like in a cartoon, and their faces have some anime-inspired facial expressions drawn into the polygons. Everything in the game followed that design philosophy, which is why everything is bigger and doesn't suffer from the low resolution and polygon counts. Also, since the animations are obviously exaggerated, they don't feel uncanny or weird.

The Servebots are just so damn cute

Not merely satisfied with that approach, Capcom also decided on adding some cute 2D art for all the characters, which help give them more avenues for showcasing their personality not possible on the in-game engine. Unfrotuantently, these 2D drawings were not present in Mega Man Legends 2.

Of course, another aspect that showcased the characters is the excellent voice acting that I mentioned earlier. It is as if the voice cast were pulled right out of a Saturday morning cartoon.

Another thing pulled out of cartoons is the soundtrack itself, which has a lot of quirky and short tracks that complement the humorous tone of the game. It's not as good as the track of the second Legends games and it contains few standout tracks, but it is varied enough and fitting to the style that you rarely notice its shortcomings.

It even has the sense to save its best track for the game's best moment, but I am not going to spoil what that is.


In Conclusion:

This game is bigger and better than the sum of its parts. If it was only the few mission modes and the mini-games, it wouldn't be an impressive title at all. However, in the way these modes support the charming characters, and the way these characters do the same, that the game becomes something truly special.

Capcom, Inafune in particular, created something unique and special with the Mega Man Legends series, and of the best aspects of that series is The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, both regarding the game and character.

Final: 8/10

*******************************

Pros:

  • Charming world and characters, especially the Servebots
  • A unique feeling that is difficult to explain
  • Just like a Saturday-Morning cartoon
  • Charming graphics and character design, excellent voice acting

Cons:

  • None of the modes have enough depth to them
  • Training the Servebots can become repetitive and a chore

**********************************************************************

Tips:

1-There is more than enough money to buy all upgrades if needed.
2-Save your Strength and Speed cubes to avoid doing the last stage of the training mini-games.
3-You really only need to train 6-8 high stat Servebots.
4-Make sure to fully train all the Servebots you are using on the final mission.
5-Talk to all Servebots and see what they need.
6-You don't need to win every mission from the start, you can retreat and regroup.
7-The Bazooka weapon is useful in unlocking secret rooms in the Ruins level, you will need to go in once though to get the necessary item to make it.
8-Use circle-down to do a quick turn.

Loath is just so, "loathsome"

Series:

For those reading one of my PS1 review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

I already reviewed both major Generation 4 consoles, and am now reviewing Generation 5 consoles. I already finished reviewing the Sega Saturn, so I am now reviewing the PS1. In these reviews, I take a top 100 games list and review the games that interest me in that list.

This time, my review series is based on this list from Retro Sanctuary along with other sources, since the PS1 can handle a list bigger than a top 100.

Also, note the following:

-If you have any suggestions for a game that is not on the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Just so cute

Next Game

As expected from a game in this series, it's extremely charming and cute. In this case, the game's charm won me over the adequate gameplay, and I ended up loving the game.

The next games on the list will be my attempt at trying one of the monster taming competitors to Pokemon, the Monster Rancher series with its two games.

Stay Tuned.

For Previous PS1 Game Reviews:

The List

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
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