I once had a film professor who taught me that the great thing about the porn industry is that it isn’t the film industry. Both groups use similar tools – they point cameras at subjects interacting with one another on some level and their finished products tell some semblance of a story via a projected surface – but because of stigma attached to one another, the two schools tend not to freely exchange ideas with one another. She advised us that a truly great director could dissect a cheap porno, find a new idea, and exploit it to make a cinematic masterpiece. Hold your horses, I’m not trying to tell you that a game called BoneTown can be reworked into a AAA franchise, but because of their completely backwards approach to game design, D-Dub Media has managed to make a genuinely unique, if not completely offensive, interactive experience.
But before I get into the peaks and valleys of BoneTown, let me address the questions that you are, no doubt, yelling at your screen right now: “Why are you reviewing porn?! I thought Tech-Gaming had standards!” Yes, we do have standards; however I like to think that our standards are not necessarily bound by the ESRB. In my time with Tech-Gaming, I’ve reviewed AAA franchises, downloadable shooters, mission add-ons and mobile phone games. My tastes are varied, and I like to think that we support a well-rounded outlook on interactive entertainment. Besides, don’t act like you aren’t just a little bit interested.
BoneTown takes place on an island with no indecency laws, which basically means that you’re free to do whatever you want, wherever you want, as long as you don’t kill anybody while you’re doing it. BoneTown was an absolute paradise for that kid with the faded green beard and the ICP shirt that used to sit in the back of home room (you know the one I’m talking about), that is until The Man showed up and started arbitrarily enforcing ludicrous laws like “no fornicating in public.” Now it is up to you to you to stop The Man from trying to keep BoneTown down.
The plot serves as a loose framework to tether the mechanics together. The short-term goal is to sleep with as many beautiful women as you can, and to do that you’ll need to boost your reputation, represented as “ball size,” by completing various missions throughout BoneTown’s open world. There is a small variety of mission types that have you stealing NPC’s identities (a la MegaMan) talking to NPCs or delivering packages, but most just consist of running to Point B and beating someone up, which is a shame, because the 3 button combat is serviceable, but not exactly exciting. Once your reputation is high enough, you can court pretty much any woman in BoneTown with great success, as long as no agents of The Man are nearby. “Macking” starts an extremely graphic sex minigame, in which you have to keep track of your rhythm and meter in order to please your lady before your stamina runs out. If you win, she leaves satisfied and your stats and reputation get a nice boost. If you lose, you become a laughing stock, and you have to settle for the uglier, more easily pleased women of BoneTown until you can repair your public image.
D-Dub’s strategy of side-stepping the ESRB gave them the freedom to do more than just include graphic sex in their game. Not having to self-censor for the ratings board meant that the writers could explore some less publically acceptable avenues in their story telling. BoneTown never pulls its punches when it comes to racial or religious stereotypes, but some of the characters that they build from these preconceived notions, such as Uzi: the Jewish Redneck Conspiracy Theorist or a sex-crazed Tiger Woods clone, are unique and ironic enough to spawn a chuckle in spite of their horrible social indecency. As I said before, the story is fairly thin, but the voice cast, which I assume is made up almost entirely of porn stars, is actually not terrible when compared to a lot of contemporary JRPGs. A lot of the dialogue sounds adlibbed, which is very refreshing, although it does mean that every other word is a four letter one.
So am I suggesting that you play BoneTown? In a word: no, but I will say that I was surprised at just how average it was – and I mean that in a good way. I’ve played a lot of games, and I can say that there are far worse titles out in the wild than this one. Everything about BoneTown lies somewhere between “serviceable” and “alright”; nothing is stellar, but nothing is really broken either, which is more than I can say for a lot of other games. Given the subject matter, I am shocked that the development team managed to cobble together a solid product between bong hits and business lunches at the Lusty Lady. It was a nice pallet cleanser, and if D-Dub ever focuses their talent toward a more mainstream title, it will definitely be on my radar. Until then, “Better than BoneTown” will be the new gold standard for mediocre games.