It's About Time... I Talk About Bubsy

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In migrating over here, I decided to change my screen name to ThunderKat; it rolls off the tongue a lot better I think. It makes a lot more sense since Kat is amongst my favourite video game characters.

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Since I joined this community while we were still on FANDOM, I have talked a bit about some of my more favourite games; the Crash Bandicoot series, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and 3, Gran Turismo 3, Gravity Rush, the Ratchet & Clank series, etc. Some of these I have talked about more than others, and some you might learn for the first time reading this that I've played some of these. I've also played a handful of shitty games, too; some of which I have already talked about in either reviews, or first impressions blogs. But there is one series I never felt the need to talk about until now: that is Bubsy. Yeah, that mangy bobcat has escaped my radar for years for one simple reason, that being I never played any of his games. I did play the first one awhile ago though, and didn't like it much since it tried too hard to imitate Sonic the Hedgehog with the high speed platforming, and without the tight level design. Because I never played the first game past the 2nd level, I never had a reason to talk about the series at length. Until now...

A couple of weeks back, the latest two entries in the Bubsy series The Woolies Strike Back and Paws on Fire were available on the PS Store with massive discounts (we're talking 80% off w/ PS Plus), and I decided to get them both (cost me only £7.18 instead of £35.98) just to see if the games were any good. Having completed both games fully, I have mixed feelings about them, so I'll spare any further ramblings and give thoughts on them.

Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back

For this one, we have a 3D game with side scrolling levels. Not really a whole to say about it since all the elements are there: collectible macguffins that only increase your pointless score, enemies pacing back and forth for you to bop in the head, extra lives, and a timer because why not? I did have a few frustrating moments playing this game, and that was more from the challenge of beat the levels without dying once, but thankfully, Bubsy's controls are perfectly manageable and the camera is zoomed out enough to give me a good view of the surrounds. Picking up a black T-Shirt does give Bubsy an extra hit point, so he doesn't die as easily. However, if you just play the game normally, you could probably just beat it in an hour or two, maybe three if you're not very good at platformers.

The level designs and themes aren't all that inspired either. They are just your stock Mountain, Desert, and Space levels spanning 3 levels each (4 in the Space region) and a boss at the end of each area. Not much even for a game costs £15.99 before the discount, and the levels themselves aren't all that challenging, nor very long. There are hidden paths you could explore, but they only lead to more yarn which, as I stated previously, only serve to improve your score at the end, so there isn't much point to explore the levels unless you want all 11 trophies from this game.

Overall, I'm glad I only spent a fraction of the price for this title. Aside from making Bubsy himself far more bearable personality and gameplay-wise, as well as having a surprisingly good soundtrack, there isn't enough content here to really justify the full asking price; it is too short, and the replay value just isn't there. It's functional, but do what I did and wait for this game to go sale with a large discount before you decide to play it (if, you want to play it, that is). Now, onto the other one...

Bubsy: Paws on Fire

Paws on Fire is a strange one; it's another side scrolling Bubsy adventure, but this time it's an auto-scroller. Usually, I don't like auto-scrolling sections in a game since they often tend to be badly designed, but luckily, this game does it reasonably well, for the most part. We have more of a story here as well, featuring Bubsy's niece and nephew (Terri and Terry), his sidekick Arnold the Armadillo, a Woolie, Virgil, and the villain of Bubsy 2, Oinker, who is seeking for capture animals for his own personal zoo... that's it. Not much to it, it's ain't deep, but at least there is an attempt at a story this time. As for characters, no one is anywhere near as annoying as they were in that god-awful cartoon pilot that never amounted to anything, and they are voiced rather well. It's basic, but it's digestible at least.

For gameplay, we have an auto-scrolling platformer stretching across 27 levels and 3 bosses. Already, this is much better since you won't be done with the game in 2 hours tops. On top of that, completing each level with a character will earn you a Victory Token; these are required in order to progress through the game, but each level has 4 of these to collect. How do you go about it? Well, Bubsy isn't alone this time around: you can also play as Virgil, the Woolie, and Arnold. Bubsy and Virgil have similar play styles with slightly different moves and level layouts, the Woolie plays similar to something like Silver Surfer, and Arnold's levels (which are effectively Bonus Rounds) are endless runners with a long tunnel with hazards to avoid. Unlocking the Arnold bonus levels requires you to collect 3 pieces of the Arnold Token in the level with the other 3 characters for that particular level. There is once again macguffins to collect like yarn, atoms, and crystals, but I can happily report that they have a purpose this time, acting as currency to purchase alternate costumes for each character. The score system still exists, don't know why though since collecting all 150 objects in the level is not a requirement for progression, but I am glad there is an incentive for them, however small it may be.

I will say though, trying to get everything can be frustrating, especially if you aren't used to the levels yet. I have come close to losing my cool over some of the levels, more so when you need to make accurate moves, whether doing a mid-air pounce as Bubsy, sliding and jumping quickly as Virgil, it can be a real test of reflexes when death (bonking) can happen so quickly. One thing it do appreciate about this game though is that loading is quick; a loading screen will be 5-10 seconds at most, but when it's less, you can dive straight into the game without needing to wait for it to load.

Like The Woolies Strike Back, Paws on Fire has a really good soundtrack. That seems to be something the modern games do well, and having a good tune to enjoy while platforming is always a plus, since it helps give the gameplay a nice flow and rhythm. As for other sounds, Bubsy and crew don't talk anywhere near as much you'd expect them to, only spouting off a corny one liner at the start of the level, and when they collide with something, which may or may not happen often depending on player skill.

Overall Thoughts

So now that I've had a chance to check out Bubsy's latest outings, I can safely say that Paws on Fire is the better game out of these two; The Woolies Strike Back wasn't outright awful, but it is generic and uninspired, plus it lacks any substantial content or replay value to warrant spending a large amount of money on it. While I got frustrated a few times with it, I actually liked Paws on Fire quite a bit, as I felt like it had a lot more content, multiple characters to break up the monotony every once in a while, and levels and even bosses that felt challenging but fair at the same time.

Bubsy is not on the same level as other platforming icons like Crash, Sonic, and Mario, so his revival in 2017 right next to them makes as much as giving Kratos a firearm, especially after a 21 year long hiatus, but I can say that the latest Bubsy games have had a degree put into them to make them somewhat enjoyable. If there is to be another Bubsy title in the future, hopefully it can build on the foundations set by Paws on Fire, because while a decent game, there is definitely something there worth building upon.

Kat's Recommendations:

  • Get Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back for a very steep discount
  • Get Bubsy: Paws on Fire if you're curious, with or without a discount

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