Bus Fix 2019 – Out now – $5.99/£5.39 – By Ultimate Games SA

Let the records show that I tried. I really did! I’ve pushed my way through the tutorial, taken a bus apart using the touchscreen (because I just can’t figure out the JoyCon control scheme at all) and have even started to repair more buses beyond the first one.

But Bus Fix 2019 is determined to get in my way and stop me from
having any fun.

Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?

‘Bus Fix 2019’, which is sounding more and more like a threat of further Bus Fixes to come, is out now on Switch. I’m not against simulator games that cater for some very odd niches; in fact, though once upon a time – in my younger days – I would have ridiculed these, today I find them quite charming and welcome the fact that they may bring people into the video game world who would otherwise be uninterested. This one fits into an oddly specific niche – want to repair vehicles? Come right in! Wait – we only have buses, hope that’s not a problem.

The lack of the word ‘Simulator’ in the title is a bit of a giveaway here, unfortunately. There’s a lot to take in here, but even though it has a level of detail you may expect from a simulator game, the fact that it just feels like you’re going through endless menus is a definite strike against Bus Fix 2019. For the most part, it just feels like you’re cycling through menus and pressing buttons.

As I mentioned above, I can’t seem to get the controls to do what I want, so I’ve resorted to playing in handheld mode and using the touchscreen; there are some great touches here, it has to be said – cleaning individual bus parts feels very tactile and pleasing when you engage in one of the several minigames that come into play when you’re repairing a piece of the vehicle. It’s just that getting to this stage is such a chore; not to mention having to get the pieces of the bus back together again once you’re done, which so often feels like trial and error.

The main backdrop for the game is your garage – customers bring their buses to you for repair, giving you hints about the issues they’re facing and leaving you to work out what’s wrong and how to fix it (for example: “I can smell exhaust fumes even when the windows are closed” or “The engine won’t start”). There are obvious issues, such as broken windows, that are easy to sort out, but the more obtuse ones just end up being a chore to track down and fix.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the control scheme made any sense – and I know I’ve already mentioned this a few times – but I just can’t seem to navigate through menus, to bus parts and onto the minigames without using the touchscreen. The tutorial is helpful in getting you started – and you’ll get some reminders pop up when you’re repairing your first few buses, especially as you’ll be introduced to different parts and methods of repair – but there’s an awful lot to take in and there isn’t anything here, beyond the occasionally tactile minigame, that I’d call fun.

Kudos to the developers for trying something different, then – but unfortunately, the execution of Bus Fix 2019 leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps, by Bus Fix 2022, they’ll have ironed out all of these problems.

Many thanks to Ultimate Games SA for providing the review key for Bus Fix 2019.

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