It's good to be bad!
A long time ago, in an arcade not so far away, I used to spend hours in front of a game called Rampage for one reason, and one reason alone. It wasn't because I got a lot for my money (I lasted 2 minutes, tops), or that the game was horribly fun (you can only eat so many military guys before you get tired of it). It was because you got to play the bad guy. Something about playing a two-story tall slathering mutant beast had a magnetic effect on the quarters in my pocket.
The Misadventure of Tron Bonne is nothing like that. Well, yes, you do get to play the bad guy, but the game isn't nearly as monotonous. And don't forget that for a bad guy, you and your minions are awfully cute.
For anyone who's played Mega Man Legends, you'll be familiar with the characters. Tron Bonne, the evil (but cute) mistress from the first game now stars in this new installment. Your two brothers, Teisel and cute little Bon Bonne, have been kidnapped, and now you have to find some creative ways of getting the ransom money. Of course, all of them have to do with the big three: lying, cheating and stealing.
The gameplay is different from section to section. The normal levels vary from to pure action games to puzzle games to a weird adventure mode.
The action levels will probably be the most familiar to MML fans. Tron runs around in a giant robot, called the Gustaff, shooting at things. Like MML, she can also lock on to enemies, so she doesn't loose sight of them. The big addition here is the ability to command your cute little cronies, called servbots. You can send them at objects by shooting a beacon. They will then pillage/plunder/rough up the object, all with a high level of undeniable cuteness (must...stop...saying...that...word!).
The puzzle game is surprisingly addicting, albeit a little shorter than I hoped. It deals with you pushing and pulling crates and boxes in order to steal valuable commodities (like tea, fish, and TVs). There are lots of little tidbits that get in your way. Certain blocks can only be moved a certain number of spaces, while other blocks can be moved anywhere. Throw into the mix conveyor belts, a bonus box full of valuable goodness, and a short course in bridge making, and you have a pretty neat little puzzle game (hah! didn't use the word cute once in that paragraph! Er...damn.)
The adventure mode is bizarre. You remotely control a little probe that is accompanied by your servbots. You have to dodge traps, pick up keys, and smash bad guys with your probe. You can talk to people, take quizzes (please don't ask me to explain, bad memories of high school), and generally try to get your hands on anything that is remotely valuable.
It doesn't get much stranger than the goings-on in your ship, the Gesellschaft (directly translated, "Society." Even more confused?). On the ship, you have to manage all of your servbots. Each of them has stats as well as a personality, wants, and desires (err, very robot-y desires). You can build their stats by putting them through a gym and playing a mini-game or by taking them on a mission, or you can punish them by sending them to the torture room.
Also, you can give items to specific servbots in order to help them discover their primary skill (e.g. pilot, cook, or tactical officer). Their stats affect their abilities in battle, and theirs skills can help give you some interesting advice. The whole thing is very weird. With all of these modes, plus a handful of mini-games, there's plenty of fun stuff to do.
Graphically, the game isn't impressive. The visuals tend to be on the grainy side, but the animation is pretty fluid. Most of the 2D graphics are quite creatively drawn, with pretty funny (and very Japanese) animations . The characters are a little blocky, but they are robots after all, so who really cares?
As in MML, the characters actually talk. The voice acting is decidedly silly, especially the servbots' high-pitched five-year-old voices. The general sound is not horribly memorable - your normal selection of explosions, gunfire, and cute little squeaks.
Controls are generally pretty good, allowing you to do basically what you want, when you want. Although you can play with the same controls as MML in the action levels, there's also a new option. Instead of the control stick turning your character like in Resident Evil, it can be used for absolute movement (i.e. pushing left and right makes you move left and right, rather than turn in that direction).The shoulder buttons can then be used for turning. This may sound awkward (and initially it is), but once you get the hang of it, it can be more useful than the old way of doing things.
On the whole, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is varied and entertaining. The multitude of modes and levels make for a very satisfying and cute game (GAGHHH!). Check it out, before I say cute one more time (ARRRGH!)