Did you know that every year Nintendo releases at least one new IP? That’s right, they haven’t missed a year since 1983, when the Famicom launched in Japan. In 2020 we had Good Job!, Astral Chain in 2019, Sushi Striker in 2018 and Ever Oasis in 2017 – and that’s just to name one every year. Given that only a few of them have reached mainstream audiences (like 2019’s Ring Fit Adventure), it’s no surprise that they slipped your mind.
So what was Nintendo’s new IP address last year? Well, assuming Game Builder Garage is actually a LABO spin-off and not its own unique series (since it’s based entirely on the LABO Builder Garage), that honor goes to a game we think the Most people reading this article probably forgot everything until they saw the title: Buddy Mission BOND.
Announced in the September 2020 Japanese Nintendo Direct, Buddy Mission BOND was a surprising revelation. In collaboration with Koei Tecmo, known for the Warriors series and making Fatal Frame (a series they also co-own with Nintendo), Nintendo has released this original visual novel/adventure game with artwork from the amazing manga Yusuke Murata, probably most well-known for drawing the One-Punch Man manga.
The game was released in Japan on January 29, 2021 and at the time of writing there was no sign of a localization. It’s for this reason that we imagine many people – even loyal Nintendo fans – may have forgotten the game exists, but as it celebrates its first anniversary, we think it’s time for a change. that. Buddy Mission BOND will never reach the heights of series like Metroid or Pikmin, but he is at least worth remembering and, if given the chance, maybe even play.
It’s a bit more action-focused than what the Ace Attorney series offers, and it can be a little easy going, with visual novel and investigation segments.
So what exactly is Buddy Mission BOND? Well, the game can probably best be compared to Capcom’s Ace Attorney series, but instead of a courtroom section being the pivotal moment of each chapter, you explore a 3D environment and solve puzzles. The objective is always to get from point A to point B, often with a buddy, and there are multiple ways to achieve the objective – each way bringing slight changes to the game’s story beats.
It’s a bit more action-focused than what the Ace Attorney series offers, and it can be a bit on the easy side. This is due to the other two gameplay types: visual novel segments and investigation segments. The latter gives the player a limited number of actions to explore a map and search for clues by talking to the locals, while the former advances the plot and is where the main story takes place. In both of these segments, you’ll get enough clues to almost always know the solution to the 3D action section, but it’s meant to be a reward for paying attention. Like a real detective would.
Another reward (other than finding out what’s a good enough story) is filling up your hero gauge, which essentially acts as a mix between HP and EXP. Every time you do something wrong, whether it’s choosing the wrong moral choice when talking to your superiors or messing up a puzzle in 3D action scenes, you lose part of the gauge of heroes. You want to complete a level with as many as possible so you can unlock new side missions and learn more about the characters.
As with many successful visual novels, the characters are the most important aspect of Buddy Mission BOND’s story, so these side missions are a must. The game is voiced (aside from investigative dialogue) and, as mentioned, all drawn by Yusuke Murata. It really sells the aesthetic and style of the game as the art is smooth, full of emotion, and just plain stunning. It looks like a manga and has an aesthetic theme like this, with each “chapter” resembling an episode from an anime adaptation.
It looks like a manga and has an aesthetic theme like this, with each “chapter” resembling an episode from an anime adaptation
It’s common for visual novels to have very static characters, but the amount of different poses, action shots, expressions, and reactions for each character is impressive. Each of the game’s four main heroes that make up the BOND team – Luke, Aaron, Mokuma and Chelsey – have so much personality and a lot of it comes from the art; side missions to flesh them out more also help. We don’t really want to compare it to Persona because it seems a bit overplayed online, but the dedication to its character development is definitely reminiscent of that series (the amazing jazz soundtrack might have something to do with that, too) .
Overall, Buddy Mission BOND is a really stylish game with a great story, only slightly dampened by repetitive gameplay – although that’s arguably the norm for many visual novels, so it’s hard to put it down. stand against the game. It certainly doesn’t feel like a Nintendo game, even though the company has published (and developed) that brand of game in the past – last year’s brilliant Famicom Detective Club duology, for example. For the Nintendo Switch, it looks like the kind of game that will be a hidden gem rediscovered in 10 years…but we could do it sooner if we shine the spotlight on it now!
To really achieve this, Nintendo really needs to put the time and energy into locating it and unfortunately we don’t know how likely that is. Maybe Nintendo will surprise us by announcing it in the first Direct of 2022, but we have our doubts. The company has a decent track record in recent years when it comes to global releases – and the aforementioned Famicom Detective localization came as a nice surprise – but going a year without a word doesn’t give much hope.
You never know, however. Nintendo could create a Famicom Detective Club and release it as an eShop-only title in the West. Similarly, the voices could remain in Japanese with an emphasis on text localization. It’s a neat little game that’s dripping with style and potential – we’d love to see it given a chance outside of Japan. Crossed fingers.
In the meantime, we can at least wish a happy 1st birthday to Buddy Mission BOND, perhaps Switch’s stealthiest debut franchise.
Would you be interested in seeing this come to the West? Have you ever played it? Let us know below.