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Video Game / Mr. Bones

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Mr. Bones is a multi-genre video game released on the Sega Saturn in 1996. It was developed by Zono Incorporated and was published by Sega. Guitarist Ronnie Montrose composed most of the game's music and appears in one cutscene. Though the game wasn't much of a success during its release, it has since become a Cult Classic due in part to its campy cutscenes, great music, and its genuinely fun and inventive gameplay.

The game's plot is about a man named DaGoulian who wishes to end the conflict between good and evil by creating a world of pure evil. To do this, he uses energy named Skeletism in order to raise an army of undead skeletons that he commands using a set of special drums. However, the title character is re-animated with blue Skeletism rather than red Skeletism, causing him to retain his free will. Being considered an impurity, DaGoulian orders his minions to eliminate him. After escaping, he finds a blind guitarist in the woods who gives him a guitar to help him. Mr. Bones thus sets out to stop DaGoulian once and for all.

Mr. Bones contains examples of:

  • Auto-Scrolling Level: "Grave Escape" and "Rolling Logs" take place in a 2D plane, while "Underwater Ride" and "Hall of Pane" take place in a 3D plane.
  • Beard of Evil: DaGoulian sports one.
  • Big Bad: DaGoulian, a vampire who wishes to cleanse the world in evil using a skeletal army of darkness.
  • Blue Is Heroic: A minor example, Mr. Bones and any undead who are friendly to him will have blue eyes. This can be subverted in the Game Over cutscene where Mr. Bones succumbs to DaGoulian's evil and acquires his own red eyes.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Mr. Bones addresses the players a couple of times in the ending.
    • This also occurs in one of the Easter Eggs, where DaGoulian tells the player to play the game anyway while there's still time left.
  • The Cameo:
    • Ronnie Montrose, the game's composer, appears in a cutscene as the blind man in the cabin.
    • In the "Glass Shards" stage, the man providing the philosophical rant about what it means to have the blues is none other than the late and blind musician Paul Pena.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The guitar Mr. Bones is given, which magically disappears on a whim and reappears when he's in a pinch.
  • Creepy Good: Mr. Bones, the titular character, is a reanimated skeleton. However, he is also a friendly, cool, and heroic guy that is trying to stop DaGoulian and his plans for world conquest. Also applies to the Dinosaur Skeleton once he's freed.
  • Cue the Sun: Happens in the ending. Since DaGoulian has vampire blood, it kills him.
  • Dem Bones: The main character, as well as DaGoulian's army.
  • Difficulty by Region: The American version is a lot more unforgiving than the Japanese version (and the latter has English voice acting too).
  • Easter Egg: Playing the game in an audio player reveals two tracks: One where DaGoulian goes into a coherent Motive Rant, and one with Mr. Bones reminiscing about what he remembers from his past life.
  • Escape Sequence: "From Beneath The Ice," where Mr. Bones has to outrun the crumbling Icy Lake.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: DaGoulian has a very deep, booming voice.
  • The Exile: When Mr. Bones breaks into DaGoulian's lair, the stained glass windows depict the vampire's life, showing he was exiled from his village for his scientific research.
  • Full Motion Video: Although the game uses them for cutscenes, Auto-Scrolling Levels incorporate using video as backgrounds while placing Mr. Bones' model on them.
  • Fun Personified: The affable and easygoing Mr. Bones. For someone who says he's got the blues and for all the weird stuff he goes through, he's always in good spirits and keeps his sense of humor throughout the whole game.
  • Gameplay Roulette: Almost every stage plays differently, with the sole exceptions being five platformer levels.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Mr.Bones and the undead friendly to him have blue eyes, while DaGoulian and his minions have red eyes and a red motif. Of note is the stained glass depicting the villain's life, where he is wearing blue as an innocent child up to the point where he starts his research into necromancy. Also, if you fail at the levels and get a Game Over, you'll get a cutscene of Mr. Bones acquiring his red eyes (meaning that he has succumbed to DaGoulian's evil).
  • Happily Ever After: In the ending, Mr. Bones summons the portal to Wraith World to (un-)live with the Wraith.
    Mr. Bones: Now she has no body, and I have no skin... Hoho! It could work out! It! Could! Happen! Ha ha ha!
  • Huge Holographic Head: DaGoulian uses one in the intro.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Mr. Bones' blue eyes signify that he is not evil. The dinosaur skeleton's eyes also turn blue after you complete the "Dry Moat" level and he becomes good. And intelligent. Same goes after Mr. Bones plays a song for the Wraith.
  • Instant Expert: Mr. Bones goes from not knowing what a guitar is to playing an advanced blues rock solo in seconds. The aforementioned Easter Egg implies this was probably due to banjo-playing experience in his previous life.
  • Large Ham: DaGoulian, especially in the ending.
  • Lilliputians: Mr. Bones encounters a village of these in a cave, which he must protect from being kidnapped by spiders.
  • Longevity Treatment: DaGoulian used vampire blood in order to prolong his life long enough to complete his evil plan.
  • Living Shadow: In "Shadow Monster," Mr. Bones is attacked by several of these.
  • Mad Scientist: DaGoulian, who discovered Vampirism after he was exiled for studying alchemy, and discovered Skeletism by combining the two. As the Easter Egg reveals, he comes to the conclusion that science trumps all morality. See Well-Intentioned Extremist below.
  • Nice Guy: Mr. Bones doesn't have a single bad bone in his body, and prefers to fight using The Power of Rock and laughter.
  • Nintendo Hard: Mr. Bones only has one life and there are no continues, but fortunately there's a level select available so you can go right back to where you left off. Most stages are unique in their mechanics, controls and objectives, but players are dropped in with no explanation to what they are and they will likely be sent back to the title screen before figuring out what they're supposed to do. The Japanese version remedies this by explaining things during the loading screens and toning down the difficulty.
  • The Power of Rock:
    • Mr. Bones' guitar is used to distract an army of skeletons, serenade a wraith, and absorb and redirect the Final Boss's attacks.
    • DaGoulian has an evil variant, as he uses drums to control his skeletal army of darkness. Mr. Bones accidentally opens a portal to another world with them.
  • Protagonist Title: He is Mr. Bones.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Skeletons reanimated with Skeletism have red eyes, except for the main character. DaGoulian gets these as well due to his vampirism. The game over sequence shows Mr. Bones succumbing to these.
  • Rhythm Game: The Guitar Solo stage, where the face buttons play different guitar riffs. As long as they're pressed with the beat, the player can cancel them out and get as creative as they please. The stage ends with many skeletons raising candles.
  • Rule of Three: Three consecutive platformer stages: "Night of the Bats," "Dawn of the Bats" and "Day of the Bats."
  • Save the Villain: Mr. Bones tries and fails with DaGoulian.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: DaGoulian. After Mr. Bones nearly ruins his plans, the vampire goes on a rant about good versus evil, not realizing the sun is rising behind him. Mr. Bones even tries warning him repeatedly about his imminent demise, but DaGoulian ignores him and keeps talking. By the time he notices, it's too late and he burns to a crisp.
    Mr. Bones: Not much of a listener, was he?
  • Shock and Awe: Mr. Bones' main form of attack in standard platforming games is to point forward and shoot out lighting at a short distance.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When the Little People in the village discover Mr. Bones, one says they should tie him up. Another asks, "Tie him up? What for? He's dead, Jim."
    • The manner in which they tie him up (and the Little People in general) are very reminiscent of the Lilliputians from Gulliver's Travels.
  • Skeletal Musician: A skeletal blues musician. Our protagonist, Mr. Bones.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: "The Icy Lake" and "From Beneath The Ice."
  • Suddenly Voiced: The dinosaur skeleton once he's freed.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Mr. Bones is the only good skeleton created from skeletism.
  • Top-Down View: "The Icy Lake" and "Skeletism Generator" stages. Inverted with "From Beneath the Ice."
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: "Skeletism Generator"
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Easter Egg reveals DaGoulian to be this. Specifically, his plan is to have evil reign over the world for as long as it takes for the seeds of good to sprout and flourish stronger than ever.
    • Motive Decay: When DaGoulian suffers a Villainous Breakdown after his plans are ruined, it's clear by this point that he holds nothing but contempt for the very concept of good.