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Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back mini-review


I might have been the only person who was excited for this. Simple reason: The first game in the series was very good, one I played a lot back in the day and one I still enjoy… despite its few faults. Bubsy 2 wasn’t as good, and Bubsy 3D is one of the worst platformers ever (not sure about the Jaguar one), but I still have some love for Bubsy. Plus this was being made by Black Forest Games, who made Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. So unlike everyone else I figured there was a decent chance of this being a good game.

And now I’ve played it, somehow managing to get myself away from Mario for a minute to do so.

So… let’s go and see if this is any good or if everyone else was right.

Developer: Black Forest Games
Publisher: Steam says Accolade, other sources say Tommo for the Steam version and UFO Interactive Games for PS4.. who knows
Date of Release: October 31st 2017
Platform: PC, PS4 (PC version reviewed)
Genre: Confusing side-scrolling platformer

Rated E for Everyone

Presentation

So this is basically what I’d call an asset flip. It takes the graphical engine and probably some assets from Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams and replaces them with Bubsy stuff. This is a side-scrolling game with 3D models, and in general it does look pretty good. It’s nice to see Bubsy again. The problem though it’s that it’s overly generic. Grassland with nothing special, grassland with more sand, and spaceship which looks like the grasslands but purple. Despite looking good, it’s pretty boring to look at. It really lacks the personality of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.

On the music side of things, Bubsy 1 had awesome music in every level. This game… doesn’t. It’s not technically bad, but it’s kinda generic and boring.

The story… Woolies are back and steal Bubsy’s golden wool and Bubsy goes to get it back… K.

Gameplay

So Bubsy can move, jump, glide and pounce. In general the movement and jumping works nicely, it feels good mostly. The pounce move makes Bubsy jump forward in a flip to kill enemies. The pounce goes a set distance, and overall it basically just sucks. The glide acts as sort of a double jump, and you can slow your fall by holding the glide button. If you kill an enemy while doing either of those moves you can do them again, so you can use the glide to do multiple air jumps. When you’re doing either of these moves though you’re stuck into them, so if you notice the pounce is sending you into a hole then… too bad. The pounce really feels bad. The glide is okay but it would be nice to be able to get out of it and start a pounce for extra distance or something.

So the levels are fairly straightforward. Go from one end to the other. There’s pick-ups along the way, specifically wool (there’s a counter for wool), shirts and keys. Keys open up a vault full of wool. The shirts give you a shield for one hit the first shirt you get and lives for following ones as long as you have the shield (you die in one hit without a shield). Wool does… nothing. I think it gives you points maybe? Those do nothing either.

This is where the game really starts losing me. The levels are basically wool hunts, but the wool does nothing. If you ignore the wool, there’s very little to the levels without looking for the wool, but there’s no reason to get said wool. Not that there’s not a few interesting segments, especially when searching for wool but… why? This level design is ridiculous. I don’t actually understand this game, because most of it is pointless.

Each world is punctuated by boss battles. They’re boring too. You basically avoid attacks, then they come down and let you hit them once. Their patterns get a bit more complex, but there’s not much to them. There’s this stupid thing where each level starts with a shield shirt, so you can take one hit before being vulnerable. When you die, you don’t restart the boss, the boss actually continues its pattern from where it was and you don’t need to do anymore damage… but the shirt doesn’t come back. So it’s just kinda annoying.

The game’s biggest problem though is that there’s no content. There’s 3 worlds. Each world has 3-4 levels, which as mentioned earlier aren’t very good, then you fight a boss and go to the next world. After the second boss a spaceship appears on the world map with the ship that steals the golden fleece again has a crown on it, and I thought “that has to be a joke”. Then sure enough I beat the insanely easy boss and that was it. The game literally has 10 levels and 3 bosses. That’s it. What?

Overall

It kinda sucks. Oops. It’s weird because the gameplay mechanics are almost good (the pounce needs to be fixed), but the problem is that the levels and game flow make no sense. Why is there wool all over the place, what does it even do? Why should I try to finish levels without dying? Why should I want to open the wool vaults? The game doesn’t tell me that. Heck, why are there extra lives when you just start back at 9 at the start of every level? Then the biggest crime… the game has NO content. 3 “worlds” with 3-4 levels in each and a boss in each… and then it’s done. There’s nothing here.

As the one person on this planet who was excited for this game, I’m very disappointed. I WANTED to like it. I had decent hopes. I didn’t think it would end up to be a mindblowing game or anything, but maybe some semblance of quality would be there. It almost is, but there needed to be more thought to it.

This should be a 10$ game, and it would still be a disappointment. I actually played some levels several times at first to get the challenges on the world map, but I stopped. Even with doing that, it still only lasted me 2 hours. If I had just rushed through without doing that it would’ve lasted me about an hour, maybe less.

Very subpar. Hopefully Accolade learn from the mistakes here and bring Bubsy back in a form that’s not lame later on.

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