“Nobody is a villain in their own story. We’re all the heroes of our own stories.”
-George R.R. Martin
We’re here with another review for all of you: The Misadventures of Tron Bonne! Most will probably recognize her from Marvel vs Capcom 2 or 3, rather than from this game.
That’s ’cause it’s a rare treat on the PlayStation and an interesting entry in the Mega Man franchise. Misadventures is hard to find, with limited copies in existence. As a huge Mega Man fan, and one who took great pleasure in playing Mega Man Legends, I knew I had to pick up a copy of this game. Can’t remember if my parents demonstrated their love for me by purchasing this title for their firstborn, or if fate magically materialized it in my cabinets. Either way, it’s there in all of its over-the-top glory.
Serving as a spin-off/prequel to Capcom’s Mega Man Legends, Misadventures ditches the blue bomber and follows the… well… misadventures of the villainous Tron. She’s a member of the Bonne crime family, a lineage of infamous and bumbling air pirates. She’s inherently good-natured though her upbringing has given her a nasty edge and she is both caring and cruel to her irrisistably cute minions, the Servbots.
Taking place in the same universe as Legends, the world has been long covered by water. Think of it as the video game adaptation of Waterworld but without having to drink your own pee. Or (better yet) think of it as Wind Waker except they’ve swapped out Zelda characters for Mega Man ones. In this world, there are ancient machines and treasures lying underground, relics of a bygone era, which are unearthed by diggers or looted by pirates.
The game opens with Tron Bonne and her elder brother Teisel aboard their ship the Gessellschaft. Turns out building a ship to house their crime family and robotic servants was expensive and they’re in dire need of some funds. Good thing they’ve just discovered the Nakkai Ruins. Lying there is a massive and valuable Refractor (an ancient device for powering machines now used as currency). It’s the Diana’s Tear, a priceless treasure.
Unfortunately, when Teisel and baby brother Bon Bonne try to uncover the Refractor, they’re attacked by rival sky pirates and taken for ransom. Teisel recognizes the other pirate, Glyde, who works for Mr. Loath, to whom Teisel owes a large sum of money. Teisel and Bon Bonne will be forced to work for Mr. Loath if they can’t pay back their debt.
Tron, unaware of her brothers whopping debt of 1 million zenny (plus interest), is a little ticked but she decides she’s going to pay off her brother’s I.O.U. the only way she knows how! That means lots and lots of villainy. It’s te only way to get Teisel and Bon Bonne back. She mounts her custom mech, the Gustaff, and commands her 40 Servbots to action.
The game is divided into several different missions and mini-games in an attempt to earn money. The main missions are threefold: a series of isometric puzzles, a series of 3D-action storyline stages similar to the gameplay of Mega Man Legends, and an RPG-esque dungeon-crawl.
Tron can choose to steal shipping containers in the puzzle stages, search for treasure in the dungeon-like caverns, or rob banks, break into homes, and defy the police in the storyline stages. After completing those, she then moves from the ransacked city to the countryside to steal valuable livestock of some poor mook’s farm. She can also return to the Nakkai Ruins in pursuit of the Diana’s Tear.
On the action missions, Tron can bring the Gustaff’s weapons to bear or activate a unique beacon attack. Whatever she targets with the beacon, the Servbots will rush at. Sometimes it yields hilarious results. Direct them at a house and they’ll go in and search through cupboards and inside drawers for things to steal, or you can have them steal mail from mailboxes, shake down apples out of trees, or even dive into the ocean to grab you some fish. They’re completely obedient, always with a subservient “Yay!” for a job well done. So cute!
The gameplay doesn’t end there, however. Back on the Gessellschaft, Tron can interact with any of her 40 Servbots. Each of them have unique personalities ranging from innocent to hard-headed to clumsy, with varying statistical traits (Attack, Speed, Brains, Sloth) and occasionally special skills. The Servbots accompany her into missions or they can be sent out as scouts to try to find items.
Moving about the Gessellschaft between missions, Tron can enter the lab, meeting room, storage, cafe, torture room, and gym. Yeah. There’s a room for torturing adorable Lego-men robots so they’re not so lazy (lowering their Sloth rating). Tron don’t play no games.
The meeting room is where the team assembles to strategize and plan their missions. In the lab, Tron can see what new weapon tech the Servbots are developing for her. Finding items on missions can earn the Gustaff an even greater arsenal. in the storage room, Tron can have unusual items she finds on missions appraised and then decide what to do with them. The gym is reserved for increasing the Servbots’ Attack ratings by running them through a vicious gamut resembling a hit-the-target carnival game. With bombs. In the cafe, Tron can train the Servbots to serve during a lunch rush to raise their Speed rating. Curry rice!
Finally, sending Servbots out scouting increases their Brains rating.
Not all of the Servbots are accessible at the start of the game. They become available once other rooms in the ship open up such as Tron’s quarters or the deck. Training what Servbots you do have access to and learning their unique skills and personalities is a neat little nuance to the gameplay, and it proves to be somewhat essential. For example, some Servbots serve as Snipers and their skill directly reflects upon how good your basic shooting attack is when out on a mission. You can’t succeed without whipping them into shape.
You can even give one of them the highest honor imaginable for a robo-slave: the red head parts. These will indicate to the entire family that this one red-headed robot is now your favorite.
1 million zenny is a lot of money to have to pay off, so Tron will need to make sure her army of Servbots is at peak performance before confronting the Gold City Police and eventually Loath himself.
The 8-bit Review
Misadventures is supported by both 3D graphics typical of the era of the first PlayStation, as well as 2D characters for representing dialogue. This was lacking in Mega Man Legends where the 3D models did the talking with better animated faces. Here together, the 2D and 3D seem somewhat jarring. The rough-edged polygon shapes moving stiffly around the screen don’t seem to match up well with the manga-inspired character images yelling and laughing and crying. The best of the two are certainly the 2D characters. They exude a kind of liveliness and enthusiasm which comes to dynamically define this game, unlike the cumbersome 3D models.
At least the Servbots themselves look good in both 3D and 2D, given they’re simple design. This is still one of the less muddy and more exuberant (and thereby captivating) games on the PlayStation, visually.
Somebody give the voice cast their Oscars. It’s not phenomenal or Shakespearean, but my goodness what energetic deliveries. I wonder if they even knew they were voicing a video game. There’s hardly a shred of lackluster boredom in any voice in the game, as if the actors threw themselves headlong into a vat of espresso believing this was their final performance ever. Some of them shriek and exult as if their lives depended on it, from Teisel’s gruffy roar to Tron’s screaming fury to the Servbots multitude of childlike tones. Even Denise the judo cop gives as honest a performance as possible.
And as for the music, it fits neatly within the Mega Man franchise as a whole. Especially with the PS One family of Mega Man games. Despite the fact the protagonist is a villain (or anti-hero), the soundtrack for her game is lighthearted and fun, even catchy, poppy, optimistic and uplifting. There’s no doom and gloom to be found in this game that knows it’s silly. Sounds like you could play all of its hyper-robot-rock on a keytar. Now that’s silly.
Having to put together workable teams from the 40 Servbots is the best part of the game. It’s endless fun torturing them and training them to their best abilities and discovering what they’re capable of. In fact, discovery is a large part of the nature of this game’s gameplay. Whether that’s exploring caverns and ruins, finding unique items, unlocking new areas or skills, the game is essentially about discovery. Isn’t that even a theme with the setting of this world, finding buried treasures from ancient civilizations?
The action controls handle slightly better than they did in Mega Man Legends, even though they seem crude by today’s standards. There’s just some kind of base joy that I guess lies somewhere in all of our hearts that you can find by sending your robot minions to rob people with their cute, claw-like hands.
The story isn’t complex in the least. It’s merely a premise. But this isn’t something we’ve typically seen from action games in this era. Instead of saving the world, Tron is above all ready to do anything and commit anything to save her own family. Wouldn’t you? …Well. I don’t know that I’d blow up a veterinarian hospital. Maybe if I had cute Servbots, I would.
If you’ve played 3D action games on the PlayStation, there isn’t anything to surprise you in playing Misadventures. The innovations which are present such as having to assemble teams of Servbots end up being so much fun that you’ll never worry about the tedium of potentially having to train many of them or keep track of which ones do what. The game is generous with this information and there’s little you have to do to memorize it or labor over it. Soon you’ll be using that beacon to make Servbots rush down seagulls and little old ladies with ease.
This can come off as a kiddie game. In a lot of ways it is and could easily serve a younger player. Most of it is fun and easy. The action stages robbing the bank and stealing from the farms are the most fun, and as mentioned there’s barely any deterrence to learning the controls and quirks of the gameplay. The hardest thing by far is some of those puzzle stages. The shipping container puzzles gave me a run for a FAQ now and again. But even completing those isn’t essential for completing the game.
Games set from the perspective of the villain aren’t exactly commonplace. Nor is having a female protagonist who has to save her male counterparts. Nor is having her in command of 40 individually unique robo-minions in a game based on exploration and discovery. Misadventures may be derivative of Legends but it comes off as distinct even from that.
My Personal Grade: 8/10
The Misadventures of Tron Bonne may be a PS One classic that a lot of gamers missed out on back in the day. You have the chance to play it again now through PSN. And I would recommend it as an easy-breezy, quick run and gun action-adventure with wacky characters, voices, and graphics, and gameplay that may make you feel a little guilty (if you’re a nice person), but is oh so much fun. The Servbots absolutely win the game.
The original game included a demo version of Mega Man Legends 2, which I don’t really remember much. What I do remember after all this time is how many times I wished there was a Misadventures of Tron Bonne 2 rather than that sequel for Legends. Call me a sucker, but it’s good (and frickin’ cuddly) to be bad.
Aggregated Score: 7.1
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Categories: Game Review