Re-Release Mr. Bones!



The Sega Saturn had a lot of could-be franchises born on it that, thanks to a low user base, never made it past the 32-bit generation. Some, like Panzer Dragoon, are still remembered by gamers the worldwide and others, like the original and extremely entertaining Mr. Bones were sent to the unknown video game graveyard, never to be heard from again.


Image Credit: SEGA

Mr. Bones tells the old “Boy plays magic evil drums. Boy wakes an army of evil skeletons. Boy discovers that one skeleton isn’t evil. Boy sets out to kill non-evil skeleton” story that has been told so many times throughout time. In this case, the “boy” is a voodoo-loving mad scientist vampire named DaGoulian. He feels the best way to save humanity from pure evil is to overthrow it with the help of a reanimated army of red-eyed skeletons. You see, this would balance out the good with an equal amount of evil, thus saving the world by “purifying” it.

What he doesn’t know is that one of these skeletons belonged to a pure-hearted musician who could not be overtaken by evil, no matter how hard DaGoulian rocked on the drums. After barely escaping the undead army’s grasps in the cemetery, the blue-eyed Mr. Bones meets a blind musician in the woods that gives him the one and only thing that will allow him to stop an evil vampiritic scientific plan of world domination: a magic guitar.

The first level is a sidescrolling platformer but things take an interesting turn afterward. Each level has its own theme theme and plays in a different style, much like the Wii-powered minigame filled titles of today. In some levels you’ll have to dodge falling logs. Others require that you swim, use your guitar to “rock” the evil skeletons to the good side, tell them jokes to laugh the evil from their bones, play the drums to open a portal to another dimension and even spin through a vortex while avoiding space debris. Each game mechanic is completely different, but somehow compliments the others in a way many games, even today, fail to accomplish.

If there is one thing the Saturn could do well, it was 2D graphics, and Mr. Bones is a perfect example. The characters and levels all spring to spooky life in what is easily one of, if not the best looking game of the 32-bit generation. Mr. Bones in particular has enough frames of animation to ensure his movements and animations blend together realistically and fluidly. Well, for a skeleton at least. He will lose limbs as he takes damage and requiring you to hop or crawl through the rest of the stage. He can also substitute arms for legs or combine limbs for a longer reach. The FMV cutscenes are an awesome combination of live-action actors and CG characters that are perfectly campy and link all the wacky gameplay elements rather nicely.

The musical score, composed by blues guitarist Ronnie Montrose, ranges between eerie and fun in an effortless way and always fits the mood of the mission at hand. It was also one of the first games I can remember seeing a soundtrack available for in an actual CD store. The guitar and drum playing levels stand out for their memorable tunes, and they did it years before Guitar Hero and Rock Band were blowing up the charts.Sega will make ten new Sonic games a year, but sequels to classics like Toejam and Earl, NiGHTS, Shenmue, Clockwork Knight, Ecco the Dolphin, Panzer Dragoon, Bug! and Mr. Bones are few and far between or completely non-existent. If ever there was a fun, different and truly revolutionary gaming experience that deserved another go-around, it’s Mr. Bones. At the very least we can hope Sega will add the Saturn version to either the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade or Virtual Console services. That way Mr. Bones can finally reach a bigger audience. After it inevitably becomes a sales juggernaut, Sega can finally give Mr. Bones a true sequel and fans wont have to continue being boned out of the encore we have waited for since 1996.


Image Credit: SEGA

– Keith White Jr.

TWITTER: @KeefWhiteJr