The Guns On The Bus Go Round And Round…
HIGH Shooting golden turds via toilet gun.
LOW Trying to jump behind objects.
WTF Shooting golden tur- wait, did I already say that?
Years ago I dedicated a generous percentage of my free time to hunting down the weirdest indies I could find. Titles like Galah Galah and Will You Come Home are forever stuck in my mind. Wildbus seems to be made of similar stuff.
At its core, Wildbus — despite being described as an RPG — plays more like a 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up, except… we’re in a bus. As in, stuck in it, and it’s impossible to disembark. The only way is forward, exploring the world and looking for things to do. The bus-centric beat ’em up soon becomes a shoot ’em up, as we’re soon allowed to mount weapons on both the front of the bus, and on its roof.
The weapons themselves give a pretty clear idea of the project’s wackiness via things like toilet guns, dragons that spit fir, old-style cannons, mounted drills, a boxing glove, and more.
The overall design seems to take some inspiration from classic beat ’em up Kunio-kun (known in the West as River City Ransom) since movement can happen on both the Z and X axis in a world that can be freely explored. Setting out on a journey in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the player is tasked with killing strong enemies and bosses to proceed. There are quite a few quests to be done, but they only revolve around finding and disposing of foes.
Along the way it’s possible to get NPCs to join our bus, which will give a bonus to attack or defense. The player can also switch bus skins, which do things like make the vehicle harder to hit or resistant to water — this latter one is pretty useful for traversing the lakes that surround some of the cities we’ll visit.
Despite there being little story to speak of, it is possible to talk with anyone we meet, including the ghosts of the enemies we’ve killed. Dialogue is usually just for laughs and not really to construct a narrative, even though — as is the case with the indie titles mentioned above — some of the weirdest lines slowly reveal a story.
All wacky dialogue and odd characters aside, the meat of Wildbus is just firing away at enemies to kill them, getting money, buying better weapons, and then rinsing and repeating. This does not make for gameplay best enjoyed in long sessions, but then again I don’t think that was ever the objective of the developer since Wildbus can be completed in around 90 minutes, at most.
Wildbus is an interesting little timesink which entices the player to visit its strange world and rewards them with plenty of oddball dialogue and weird NPCs, but it doesn’t have much to offer beyond its status as an oddity. I wouldn’t recommend it to the average person looking for something to play, but connoisseurs of the strange will want to look into it.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Wildbus Studio. It is currently available on Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 1.5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is rated T by the ESRB, for Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco, Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. Despite the violence being really cartoonish, the humor tends to fall on the adult side. As such, I would recommend it to a teen audience.
Colorblind Modes: there are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not feature spoken dialogue, nor are audio cues used to communicate enemies’ attacks. Text cannot be altered or resized. In my view, the game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: the controls are not remappable.
Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple.
He's a sucker for great stories in gaming, he loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs.
Damiano's been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog https://genesistemple.com (now dedicated to the history of video game design).