The 16-bit era was a time filled with some of the most iconic video game mascots in history. Fan-favorite Nintendo characters such as Mario, Link, and Zelda, are still going strong today in terms of popularity. Others, such as Sonic and Crash Bandicoot have struggled over the years to remain relevant, although both have seen a renaissance. And then there was Accolade’s not well-known bobcat Bubsy, platforming his way across multiple platforms and game’s back in the 90s. The fourth game in the series, Bubsy 3D, brought the series to PlayStation with inadequate controls, terrible visuals, and horrible level design. After 21 years Bubsy returns to his 2D side-scrolling roots, for an all-new retro adventure, leaving everyone wondering why?
Even if you are too young to have played the original games, Bubsy is not an intriguing or fun character to control. Many times companies bring back fan-favorite characters and those games flourish due to nostalgia, or the fact that a good character/game transcends generations. In the case of Bubsy, the orange bobcat wears a plain t-shirt with an exclamation point and can’t stop himself from repeating the same set of one-liners to his heart’s content, that is unless you alter the options to shut him up. Unless you have the black shirt power-up that allows you to take an additional hit, you die in one hit. While this in itself is not a terrible mechanic, the awful level design for the uncomfortable platforming mechanics and enemies produce a somewhat frustrating experience.
There are only 11 different platforming levels that progressively get more difficult (and frustrating) as you progress through the game. Each one has three different set of goals; collect all balls of yarn, complete the level without dying and, collecting all the power-up t-shirts. Considering the never changing enemy design and gameplay mechanics, each level feels the same, outside of different visual treatments. Bubsy’s new pounce ability is entirely useless outside of breaking through the occasional crumbling wall. As his path arcs in the air when pouncing, you will often miss your target, namely the slowly walking enemies. Boss fights revolve around the same UFO encounter that you already defeated, but with an additional new attack pattern. Although you may think that they would help provide a refreshing experience, the prolonged attack patterns go on for what seems like forever before you can do any damage. And again, one hit and you are dead, resetting you to the start of the attack pattern.
Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back is an uninteresting entry into one of the most forgettable franchises in video game history. There is a reason that the previous game was 21 years ago, and perhaps that Bubsy should have stayed buried. At no point did I encounter anything redeemable in the game. It is a dull traditional platformer with a limited moveset, uninspiring level design. Not only that, the game is quite short, which is the only saving grace for those that are forced to play it.
Note: The Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back review is based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.