|Most everyone in the videogame world is familiar with Mega Man,
and now Capcom brings fans the unique opportunity of walking a mile in the other
mans (or in this case, womans) shoes. Tron Bonne is Mega Mans female
rival, and along with her slew of Servbots, is intent on repaying a debt to Mr. Loath and
rescuing the former leader of the Bonne family from his evil (or at least, more evil)
clutches. Tron will pillage her way through puzzles and combat sequences to earn enough
zenny in this sometimes bizarre RPG/action-(mis)adventure.
When I first began playing this game, I was definitely taken by what I would call its "cuteness quotient"--the anime look of the giant robots, the adorable bumbling Servbots, and of course, Tron herself. As I was taken into this world and began to play in earnest, I realized something important. Although I could play this game on my own and have fun, I really wasnt the target audience for this game. Some titles like Banjo-Kazooie and Sonic the Hedgehog really are "games for all ages," but although I could critique this game from an adult perspective, I felt that maybe in this case I needed some added input. And so, I did what any self-respecting reviewer would doI passed the buck and took this game to the Pokemon Generation. In the twelve-and-under crowd, the results were fairly unanimous. This game got rave reviews, and although the campaign mode may not have lasted that long for some of the more skilled players, there was enough other things to do in the game that kept everyone I played with enthralled.
The game starts with a basically RPG sequence that begins the predicament with a minor battle segment in the Gustaff (the giant robot) in which Tiesel, the head of the Bonne family, is kidnapped on his way to find the famous treasure, Dianas Tear. This sequence unfolds the storyline and allows the player to be instructed in the movement and weapons of the Gustaff and the deployment of the Servbots. Then the point of view shifts to Tron, who begins the major portion of the gameplay. This was an easy way to get acclimatized, but brought up one of the first critiques that held true throughout the campaign. The dialogue sequences tended to drag out and made me anxious to get to a place where I could start doing something. The same information could have been given in shorter segments and been more intermingled with gameplay. The impulse in the gaming industry to combine the best in RPG/puzzle/action-adventure is a great one, but most of the console games that have come out so far still seem to compartmentalize the segments a wee bit too much, which decreases the fluidity of play.
The dialogue segments were both verbal and written, which was nice for younger players whose reading skills werent as good and gave a more entertaining, cartoonlike feel to the game. However, they stopped verbalizing in the sections where instructions about specific mission objectives were given and debriefing after missions occurred. This made it necessary for younger players to have someone explain some of the more complicated goals to them. For the adult players, it was nice to be able to flip quickly through these dialogue boxes when they became too ponderous.
The graphics on this game were divided into two types--flat cartoon-style anime that was stationery, and regular 3-D topography and cinema screens. The first type was used for most of the dialogue sections and in the HQ on Trons airship Gesellschaft. The second type didnt have much detail during the campaign mode and pixilated fairly heavily in the cinema screens. Luckily, the cinema screens which were predominantly of the second type of graphics were few and far between.
The lack of actual movement of characters in most of the Gesellschaft screens was frustrating, especially since you could go to different rooms in the ship and talk to your Servbots, but they werent 3-D environments, just flat screens. Im getting spoiled I guess, but with so many games that let you explore and give a less finite set of possibilities for action, this game seemed stunted in this area. The idea of having these separate rooms was great, but for the most part, it wasnt as well executed as it could have been. As far as movement goes in the campaign section, it was fairly smooth and the 3-D environments were easy to navigate. My only wish was that the left and right pivoting had been more smoothly integrated with forward and backward motion. Instead, the L1 and R1 buttons had to be used to pivot, which was a little cumbersome in the middle of heavy-duty fighting sequences in the Gustaff.
The sound effects in this game were hilarious and the musical score was interesting, non-intrusive, and non-repetitive. Unlike some games where the sound effects and music become so annoying after a few hours youd rather be listening to nails on a chalk-board, these just got to be more fun as you went.
Probably the most fun I had with this game was in the Gesellschafts Servbot training modes. New training rooms opened up in the gym the farther you progressed in the campaign mode. You increased your Servbots speed and accuracy by taking them through different games, and boy oh boy, were these games BIG FUN! You got to do everything from playing lunch-lady to a hoard of hungry Servbots to playing a game thats a cross between Duck Hunt and Kaboom (gosh, I guess Im showing my age with that comparison, huh?). The graphics were probably the strongest and most hilariously rendered here than in any other part of the game.
The only major problem I had with the game was a room on the Gesellschaft that was reserved for the punishing of slothful Servbotsthe Torture Room. It may be that Im getting to be a prude in my old age, becoming the Marge Simpson to the Itchy and Scratchy dilemma, but I found this room to be extremely disturbing. I realize that this is a difference between Japanese and American culture and that Tron really is supposed to be a bad girl, but for a game that is mostly directed toward children, I was a little taken aback. In the torture room, you have fifty-seconds to try and inflict damage on your Servbot as he runs around a track by dropping weights on him, slicing his robot feet with steel blades, or searing him with flame jets. I know the Servbots arent human, and that the rest of the game is full of stealing and mayhem, but this seems a bit much. And I really hated explaining to the wide-eyed six year old I had been happily playing with why I didnt think it was a good idea for him to play in the torture room.
On the whole, though, this game is fairly innocuous for kids and a lot of fun for the twelve-and-under group. It has enough replayability to warrant buying if youre part of the aforementioned group, and is definitely worth renting if youre a kid at heart.