Before its release on Switch, BUSTAFELLOWS Season 2 has an official teaser website. Originally published by eXtend, BUSTAFELLOWS was an Otome visual novel steeped in mystery, murder and noir. The five stories of Teuta, Limbo, Shu, Helvetica, Mozu and Scarecrow will be included in Season 2.
Not much can be found on the teaser site at the moment, but weekly updates via Bustafellows Radio are promised. We’ll have to keep waiting until we find out more information, including an official release date for the game. You can watch the trailer for BUSTAFELLOW here:
Evaluation of BUSTAFELLOWS Season 2
I’ll admit that as an Otome player, I’m a bit behind the times. I didn’t learn about BUSTAFELLOWS until this year, despite the fact that it was first released in Japan in December 2019 and that an English localization had been scheduled for December 2020. Nonetheless, I have been anticipating the release of the English translation of this noir mystery game by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting Extend Inc., as have many others. On July 30, 2021, PQube will launch a localized version of the game on the Nintendo Switch and PC. The original game was launched on the Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android.
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Blood, drug references, partial nudity, harsh language, suggestive themes, usage of alcohol and tobacco and violence all contribute to BUSTAFELLOWS’ Mature 17+ ESRB rating. Body image/appearance, death, explosions, firearms, kidnapping, loss of loved ones, mental illnesses and disorders, murder, needles, self-harm, sexual violence, suicide, surgeries, terminal illnesses and viruses are all mentioned in the game to varying degrees and may be upsetting and/or trigger players. Camera flashes, lights and occasional RGB glitch and blur effects are also employed occasionally for aesthetic purposes.
The following review was compiled after playing the PC version without giving away any plot points:
It all starts in the city of New Sieg
BUSTAFELLOWS follows the life of Teuta Bridges in the made-up city of New Sieg, located in the United States in the present day. This freelance writer, all 21 years old, had intended to interview the well-known attorney Limbo Fitzgerald but instead found herself a witness to his untimely demise. Teuta, who is intent on saving him, makes use of her power, which allows her to temporarily travel back in time.
When she transmits her mind to the recent past, she temporarily assumes another person’s body, but she is resourceful enough to prevent Limbo’s death before she must return to her own time and body. Her decision to save Limbo sets in motion a chain of events that introduces her to a tight-knit group known as the Fixers. The organization, which consists of Limbo, Shu, Helvetica, Mozu and Scarecrow, provides its own brand of justice for some high-paying situations that traditional law enforcement is unable to resolve.
The highly realistic background graphics make it easy to envision the setting of New Sieg even in the absence of any exposition. The composition and color palette of each space creates a distinctive atmosphere. I enjoy how the courtroom and police station appear like they were lifted right from my favorite detective shows, but my favorite part of the backdrop painting is the walkway next to the busy streets at sunset. A sense of “alive” permeates the landscape, as if I could see the people that inhabit it. The background imagery has greatly aided immersion, as have small but fantastic animation touches like moving images on digital billboards and blinking LED lights.
It is an Exciting Criminal Drama with Multiple Turns
A single playthrough of BUSTAFELLOWS would take about 55 hours, based on the 65 hours I put into it (including time spent re-reading). There was never a sense that more than a few minutes had elapsed during the game, despite its apparent length. Though it has many action-packed scenes, the language is concise and has great pacing, which sustains the reader’s interest and interest in the story. In reality, I never once thought I was playing a visual novel; rather, I imagined I was watching a crime drama with plenty of unexpected turns. It helps drive home the notion that the game is based on an anime or TV show because short opening and “Upcoming episode” teaser clips are included.
The exciting plot isn’t the only thing about BUSTAFELLOWS that will have you on the edge of your seat. The story’s decision points are spread out evenly, often popping up at inconvenient intervals. The game offers both the traditional, untimed version and some timed decision choices that can add some tension at key places. At all but one of the timed option points, players are given a generous thirty seconds to make a decision (or not). These timed option points are utilized sparingly to maintain a consistent pace and they provide an exciting new dimension to the situations in which they appear. Most notably, they make communication feel very close to that of face-to-face meetings.
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Although BUSTAFELLOWS does not have a large number of decision points, I felt like I was actively shaping the tale. However, not every branching decision actually matters in determining the story’s trajectory or resolution. The character pathways all have a single decision point from which the ending is determined, so players can rest easy knowing they don’t have to make every “right” choice in order to experience the happy ending. That so, the other potential outcomes shouldn’t be disregarded as mere window dressing. Many games reward players for exploring all of the possible dialogue options by providing in-game accomplishments (in the form of badges under “Memorabilia”) and supplementary storylines.
Excellence in Translation
When it comes to the English version of BUSTAFELLOWS, PQube does a great job. Since my knowledge of Japanese is really limited, I cannot attest to the accuracy of the translation; but, I do not have any trouble following along with and understanding the translated materials. Many of the words I didn’t know were either technical ones or food names. It was the one time I had to look up a phrase because I had never heard the expression “that really rustled my jimmies” before.
But there are a few mistakes scattered throughout the content. A few typographical errors, such as “they” for “then” and “to” for “too,” as well as variations in the spelling of some character names (most notably Zora’s, Theo’s and Orsted’s) and missing or excessive punctuation can be found throughout the text. While I didn’t mind most of the mistakes, I was a little irritated by the ones involving names, especially since Zora and Zola could have been referring to different people in a mystery story when attention to detail is essential.
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