Mr. Bones

Unbalanced gameplay leaves you with no meat on your bones

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Genre: Adventure/ Platform

While it's admirable SegaSoft is turning into a viable game division, this young company's definitely feeling some growing pains. Mr. Bones, their second game for the Saturn, has twenty levels that mix innovative gameplay with traditional genres. However that same variety verges on the manic, and these wild swings discourage users from venturing into the depths.

The majority of the game consists of Mr. Bones evading skeletons, zombies, bats, and other forces of nature. Gameplay is quite traditional, except as a skeleton, every time you get hit, you lose energy or a foot falls off. The more energy you lose, the harder it is to keep your bones together, and the more things drop. Losing limbs affects Mr. Bones' mobility and offensive power, so the way you play actually changes as you get damaged. It's also really funny to see your skull and spine rolling down the road. Mr. Bones can also add bones in different places, so a three armed skeleton is not that unusual.

However, these levels can be hard. The first level is already as demanding as they come, and it doesn't give new players a chance to learn the play mechanics. Enduring a chase through the graveyard for about five minutes while trying to avoid skeletons from behind and pits in front is not the best way to break in a game. It doesn't help that there are no continues in this game, and dying once ensures you'll have to do the level all over again.

Unfortunately, this holds true through the side-scrolling portions of the game. The level design is nice but uninspired, quite grueling, with an anticlimactic reward. While there are only about ten of them, most are in the first half, leaving the good stages too far in.

SegaSoft really succeeds with the levels where they didn't stick to stale action game ideas. Without these levels, Mr. Bones wouldn't even be worth passing the first stage.

Every now and then, the groovy Mr. Bones takes the stage and performs. You'll need to pass levels by playing guitar solos and telling jokes. While this might sound ridiculous, it's never been done before and can be a nice change of pace.

Other levels also integrate some fantastic FMV, so you'll get an obstacle course experience a la Rebel Assault. While sometimes tedious, they're not bad, and nowhere near as monotonous as the earlier levels.

This is not a game for the faint of heart. It you're willing to cut through some truly pathetic sludge, Mr. Bones has enough to make a satisfying experience.