Many of you reading this are doubtless already aware of BUSTAFELLOWS, judging by the fact it frequently crops up in discussions of highly anticipated visual novels, particularly in otome game fan communities.
If you fall into this category, you’ll be pleased to hear that localisers PQube have confirmed the game will be with us by summer of 2021 — and we’ve got lovely collector’s editions that you can pre-order right here. A standard edition for Switch will also be available from retailers such as Amazon; you can pre-order from today.
If you’re not yet familiar with BUSTAFELLOWS, you may well be wondering what all the fuss is about. Permit me to explain!
There’s a lovely collector’s edition
Yes, yes, I know I literally just said this, but I mean, look at it. Not only do you get a copy of the game on physical cartridge for Nintendo Switch (or a download code via email if you’re a Steam-loving person — see below), you also get an abridged version of the “New Sieg People Weekly” magazine found in the original Japanese deluxe release of the game, a 27-track “Scarecrow’s Mixtape” CD, and six art cards that are exclusive to the western release of the game.
The localised New Sieg People Weekly magazine is slightly abridged from the original and offers behind-the-scenes insights as well as concept art, sketches and character profiles. The CD, meanwhile, features a performance of the game’s main theme Novalis by Kaito Ishikawa, voice of the character Adam Krylov.
Pre-order the collector’s edition for Switch here, or Steam here. Note that if you pre-order the Steam version, you’ll receive your game key on release day, so you may receive your physical package first!
It’s an otome game
This is worthy of note by itself. For the unfamiliar, otome games are titles (usually in the form of visual novels) that feature well-realised female protagonists and an interesting cast of male love interests to explore over the course of the narrative.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking otome games are nothing more than wishy-washy romance stories, however; otome titles are renowned for having some of the most ambitious, challenging narratives in the entire visual novel sector, often tackling heavy themes with respect and delicacy — and the “romance” side of things often takes a back seat to in-depth explorations of characters, their motivations and their backgrounds.
In fact, BUSTAFELLOWS’ scenario writer minetaka mentioned in an interview with Siliconera that the production staff “do not see it as an ‘otome game'” and would rather people think of it as a “text adventure game” with potentially universal appeal, then decide for themselves whether they consider it to be a “horror game”, a “comedy game” or an “otome game”.
We don’t get enough otome games in the west, although the situation has been improving recently. With BUSTAFELLOWS being renowned as one of the best otome games of all time — regardless of what minetaka says about genre! — this release is well worth your support.
It’s a noir-inspired crime thriller
It should be clear that BUSTAFELLOWS’ author minetaka is not someone who feels like they should be constrained by traditional definitions of genre — but there are definite, obvious noir influences on BUSTAFELLOWS.
The game’s premise, where you take on the role of an investigative journalist as she becomes embroiled in all manner of shady shenanigans, is right out of noir fiction — and the game’s interesting and varied cast of characters will absolutely keep you guessing at the various mysteries our heroine will need to solve right up until the very end!
It features some interesting mechanics
Visual novels aren’t typically known for their mechanics, which makes games that choose to do things a bit differently really stand out.
In the case of BUSTAFELLOWS, you’ll be faced with timed decision points when you need to make critical choices — and sometimes doing nothing is the right choice! On top of that, there are a number of scenes throughout where elements of the game will subtly change according to which narrative route you’re on. Pay attention to things like a psychology test you take in the game, the name of a cat — and even the swimsuit protagonist Teuta wears at one point.
These more subtle clues take the place of a traditional “affection meter”, so keep a close eye on everything that’s going on to make sure you’re headed down the right path!
It’s got an all-star voice cast
There are lots of big names in BUSTAFELLOWS’ voice cast. Protagonist Teuta is voiced by Yui Kondou, who plays Biwa Hayahide in the anime Uma Musume, Mana in the video game Atelier Lulua and Tao from Atelier Ryza; she also played Ciri in the Japanese dub of The Witcher TV series, and Fru Fru and Priscilla in the Japanese version of Zootopia.
Among the cast of heroes, we have KENN, who played Urianger in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy XIV; Yoshimasa Hosoya, who played Reiner Braun in Attack on Titan and Belial in Granblue Fantasy; Hiroyuki Yoshino, perhaps best known as Ed from Street Fighter V; Jun Fukuyama, likely most well known to Rice readers as Joker from Persona 5; and Yusuke Shirai, previously seen in BUSTAFELLOWS’ spiritual predecessor Side Kicks! and Arc System Works’ excellent visual novel World End Syndrome, among other things.
It has gorgeous art by Kohaku Sumeragi
Kohaku Sumeragi is a prolific artist who has contributed to a wide variety of games and visual novels over the course of the last 20 years. Note that if you decide to Google Sumeragi’s past work, some of it is rather on the not-safe-for-work side of things. You have been warned! As if that’s going to stop any of you.
The six (very much safe-for-work) art cards in the collector’s edition of BUSTAFELLOWS feature both backgrounds and character art, and are perfect for display. Meanwhile, the beautiful in-game art will keep you playing just to see what entertaining scrapes Teuta and her new friends get into next.
BUSTAFELLOWS is out in summer of 2021. Pre-order the collector’s edition here!
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