All the yarn…
Why? That is probably the best question to ask about the latest Bubsy game. I will admit, I have a soft spot for mascot platformers. I remember when Bubsy was a relevant thing. He was never as popular as the likes of Sonic or Mario, but he carved out his own niche. That is readily apparent as we are seeing him return in 2017, over 20 years since his last game outing. This new game attempts to bring back the 2D romp that some of us older gamers remember. Sadly, it ends up leaning far too much into the tropes of the past.
Much like the bulk of its predecessors The Woolies Strike Back is a 2D side-scroller with an obsession with collecting. Let’s all try to forget Bubsy 3D for as long as we can. The minute I started playing I was having fun. Then level two cropped up and basically repeated what I had just done. I figured things would changes as I got further in. How wrong I was.
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
World after world, level after level, the same tropes just kept repeating. The game relies so much on collecting yarn balls it forgets almost everything else. Levels drag on far too long, and the mechanics don’t change up frequently or enough to make it interesting. New worlds bring new environments, but still the same sad game play. It was depressing.
Bubsy moves fine, but his attack animations are perplexing. He can jump, but double jumping requires tapping the glide button. Yes this is a cat that can glide in the air. Bubsy also has a pounce attack that moves at an angle that makes hitting enemies frustrating. It feels counter balanced to how they move. I ended up getting hit more than I hit the enemies. After a while I resorted to just jumping on them. This kind of design is infuriating at times.
There are boss fights that crop up, and initially they seemed to break up the monotony of the rest of the game. Then I made it to the next one and so on. They fall victim to the same problems the rest of the game does. It becomes tedious and not fun. I like bringing back old franchises as much as the next gamer, but please do it with some care. This game constantly feels like it was made for the sake of a punchline. One that while playing it, I did not find amusing.
Let’s also talk about how criminally short this game is. Players can blast through all of the levels and boss fights in around an hour. If I went for collecting everything, I might be able to stretch that into two hours. If collecting everything was remotely interesting that could be an option, sadly it isn’t. Combine that with the fact that the game hovers in at $30 and it feels even worse.
Visually the game looks bland. Level design is uninspired and the enemies are repetitive. Hitting bosses causes them to flash and nothing feels satisfying. Bubsy does utter a lot of quips, and there is even a verbosity slider to turn his one-liners up or down in frequency, but honestly you should just turn them off.
The return of Bubsy is a travesty. He was a remnant of a forgotten age that should have stayed in the past. Nothing about this reboot feels good and the criminally short play time is the final nail in the coffin. Very few people asked for the resurrection of Bubsy, and after his comeback, even less will want him to return again.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.