Bone: Out from Boneville
The Bone comic series was a humorous take on those larger-than-life fantasy epics that are about a dime a dozen. While it never drops to the level of parody, it succeeded throughout it’s more than ten year run by fantastic writing and an excellent cast of characters. The memorable comics have now been turned into the episodic point-and-click adventure, and while many of the things that made the comics great make the transition, there’s just too much missing from the gameplay department.
“Shut up, I just ate that stick an hour ago”The first episode, Out from Boneville follows the events of the first volume of comics almost precisely. Things get started with three cousins from Boneville lost in the desert. Phoncible P. Bone (Phoney for short) is heart-broken because he’s had to leave behind all his riches in Boneville after he was run out of town. You see, Phoney rivals Scrooge McDuck in terms of over-the-top greed, and his equally pale and cartoonish cousins have once again bailed him out of another business idea turned sour. His previous investments included an orphanage built on a toxic dump and a petting zoo combined with a slaughter house.
Phone Bone, the hero, does a good job of putting up with Phoney, while the third cousin, Smiley, is too dim-witted to fully grasp all the happenings. There is plenty of dialogue throughout Out from Boneville, but since most of the writing is taken directly from the comic series, it’s consistently excellent and provides for plenty of great scenes. One great dialogue exchange between the greedy Phone and his grumbling stomach includes the line, “Shut up, I just ate that stick an hour ago.” All of the voice acting is above average, so the clever lines can be fully appreciated.
Phone, Phoney and Smiley don’t stick around the desert for too long. After Phone solves a simple puzzle, which serves as a bit of a tutorial to the no-frills inventory system and other basic mechanics, the cousins are attacked by a swarm of locusts and an interactive chase scene ensues. This first episode of Bone contains two of these chases, and they’re the only real action scenes in the game. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to them aside from gently moving the mouse and clicking to jump over obstacles that repeat themselves far too often.
After the chase, Phone finds himself in a mysterious valley, split up from his cousins. Throughout the adventure the graphics are incredibly basic and there isn’t even a setting to crank up the resolution, but Bone: Out from Boneville still manages to look decent due to fluid animation that brings the characters to life. While the Bones are little more than scantily clad cartoon characters, their expressive faces bring them to life. Phoney’s walking animation is absolutely priceless, with hunched shoulders, stiff walking and a sour look on his face. The simple graphics show their weakness when it comes to the couple human characters, which aren’t nearly as animated as the creatures due to their creepy, lifeless eyes.
“The worst of these puzzles are the illogical hide-and-seek games”Once Phone finds himself in the valley, there becomes a series of puzzles that never really become interesting. The solution is usually pretty easy to come to, but if for some reason it can’t be solved, the solution can be found out at any time through the help menu. It’s obvious that the game is more aimed towards youngsters. While the comics are definitely children friendly, their beauty is that they appeal to all ages. The point-and-click puzzles will be way too easy for anyone even in their early teen years.
The worst of these puzzles are the illogical hide-and-seek games that need to be completed against a trio of baby possums. Their version of hide-and-seek is played by having Phone look in a variety of places, but he only has ten chances to find all three. Not only does this not make sense, but it flies in the face of everything I learned about hide-and-seek as a child. Phoney is also controlled for parts of the first episode, and his game of hide-and-seek with the possums is even more questionable.
At times, it can become annoying how slowly the Bones move around the screen, but it does add just a little more longevity to this first installment, which clocks in at just several hours long. This reflects the low price that this game can be obtained for. As an adaptation of a beloved comic series, Bone: Out from Boneville succeeds by doing justice to the storyline and the characters. However, as an actual game, it’s far less successful, unless only the youngest gamers are playing. It’s unfortunate but despite this, the effective retelling of a fantastic story makes me want to play the second episode, The Great Cow Race.