Fear& Loathing On Rhyship Island

The Misadventures of Tron Bonne (aka: Tron ni Kobun!)

      After a lot of searching, dead ends, and an eternity on a file-sharing network, I finally have gotten a chance to play the apocryphal middle sibling of the Megaman Legends/Rockman Dash series. The Legends games really rubbed me the right way, with a lot to explore and do that turns a game that can conceivably be completed in about three or four hours into something that looks and feels like something much bigger and more enjoyable. It's a lot like Metroid in the sense that your forays into the caves and ruins were limited only by not being able to jump high enough, or not having a weapon that could break down a blocked pathway. I always found that sort of adventure a lot more enjoyable than obligatory key-fetching and power-leveling. Something about not having to build the largely decorative Zet-blade in Megaman Legends, for example, made going through all of the mini-games and fetch-quests to build it seem more enjoyable. It didn't hurt that it had the atmosphere and charm to keep your attention, either.

      Misadventures, despite a 180 in terms of focus, carries that sort of optional advancement close to its heart, which makes completing all of the minigames and subquests all the more fun. For the first time, Megaman's latest incarnation is nowhere near the spotlight, and you take on the role of the genius pirate Tron Bonne on a mission to raise one million Zenny to free her brothers from the chunky grasp of Lex Loath and his narcissistic business partner/hitman Glyde. So Tron sets about earning the 1,000,000z through hard work and clever marketing of lawn care products.

      I mean, looting and pillaging the island of all its valuables. So instead of wandering Ruins and collecting treasures as per the other entries in the Legends series, the game is broken down into sets of minigame missions ranging from flat-out bank-robbing action to crate puzzles. I must confess that didn't sound nearly as much fun as it turned out to be. The presentation is one thing to be sure. It uses the same simple, somewhat blocky character models seen in Mega Man Legends (2?) to good, cartoony, effect, only now when there are dialogue scenes, we get hand-drawn character portraits on-screen, saving us from the sometimes unnatural appearance of a 2-D face on a 3-D talking head. There's also a lot of voice work accompanying the game, giving it a feel sort of like an anime without the animation, or maybe one of those dating sims. Your onscreen avatar for most of the actual game is the Gustaff mech (or a variant), which is as much a command center for the Servbots as your battle machine. You fire Beacon Bombs from the head turret which signal all of your little charges to rush in and hit a switch, steal a truck, or throw bombs recklessly. There are plenty of useless Servbot tricks as well as the expected attack and task runs, like Beacon Bombing the water and watching the happy little Servbots float and splash, or tagging a Servbot and causing the others to chase it in circles.

     The biggest boost this game has in terms of style, though, is the sheer, unadulterated joy your childlike servants get from damn near everything. They rush around town, aiding your plunders with chipper cries of "YAY!" as they rip off police car lights and tires. They portray crime and evil in such a delightfully positive light- after all, Tron is doing this to rescue her brothers from an even worse crook. When all is said and done, the Bonnes pretty much are only pirates because they have to be.

      The game missions consist of two 'Action' missions (Bank Robbery and Sart Farm), two Puzzle missions (Primiki and Teche Harbors), a three-part 'RPG' segment wherein you control a remote drone and rely on the Servbots to recover the Aurora Stones, and a 'free' dungeon that can be visited as many times as needed to raise money and find items. Beating missions unlocks new parts of the Gesselschaft (your home base) as well as giving you money towards your ultimate one million goal. The 40 Servbots all have their own strengths, weaknesses and quirks to find and exploit. They all have Attack, Speed, and Brains attributes that go from 1-4, as well as a Sloth rating that goes up if you neglect to take them on enough missions. Don't worry- you can straighten them out in the Torture Chamber. There's also a Casino level available for high-stakes Bingo and High or Low. (I like the fact that Glyde is the Queen in the deck of cards they're using.)

     As for the new characters the game brings out, only Glyde (and his smarmy Birdbots) makes a return visit in the sequel. I guess there was only so much they could do with Officer Denise*, as funny as she was to pick on. We get a little better look at Diggers in action, which is odd since the other two games are ABOUT a digger. I especially like the older digger wearing Mega Man-like armor and a tattered cape. He looks like Clint Eastwood trying to play Rock. Granted he doesn't do much but he looks cool standing there.

     The gameplay has a few changes from the norm, like not being able to recover health effectively aside from bringing your own refuels. There are only two special weapons to speak of, the Gatling and the Bonne Bazooka, plus armor and life upgrades to work towards. The bulky Gustaff can't do the quick-turn or safety roll motions familiar to Legends veterans, which makes sense but leads to some extra unecessary damage.

     I think the most tragic shortcoming of this game is that there just weren't a lot of them made. I had to resort to downloading a buggy emulated version that liked freezing up on cutscenes and had characters occasionally stuttering like Max Headroom either due to encoding error or RAM troubles. This also denied me the Legends 2 demo and the delicious goofy missions ontained therein. If I ever get the chance to get it legit, rest assured I will. Or maybe I can just have some of my shorter friends rush into the house of someone who's got it. Yay! Yay!

*Her full name is Denise Marmalade, and her theme is called "Police Lady." Police Lady Denise Marmalade. Lady Marmalade. Get it, it's another music reference like Rock and Roll and Tron Bon(n)e.

Tron and one of her loyal Servbots overseeing the Gesselschaft's construction.

The Reaverbots are back and weird as ever.

Ha! Like Glyde would touch a girl!