They made another Bubsy game. When Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back came out back in 2017, and it was absolutely awful, I thought that meant we'd be done with Bubsy forever. The pantsless bobcat has failed to have much of a success in... well, ever. Yet they keep making more of them. This time around, Bit.Trip developers Choice Provisions pick up the mantle. This is a developer that has quite a bit of experience with runners. As such, Bubsy: Paws on Fire! actually looked like it had a decent chance of not being terrible. Naturally, the bobcat only manages to taint everything it touches.
The game opens up with Bubsy and friends learning that an alien named Porker has broken out of prison. He's currently collecting all animals to create an intergalactic zoo. They learn this from Bubsy's niece and nephew, something particularly horrifying as it implies that someone on Bubsy's family tree has experienced love. This is not something I personally am comfortable with. Thankfully, there are no more cutscenes, and the one-liners are kept to a minimum. Each level starts with Bubsy, or one of his friends, making a bad quip. Hilariously, the game seems to have as much disdain for Bubsy as I do, as his quips always cut off when the level starts.
Running in Bubsy: Paws on Fire!
Not that the levels starting is really a great thing. Each level you have to pick which of three characters you want to play as. Bubsy and Virgil both play as runners, automatically moving from left to right, albeit with slight differences in how they play. Bubsy can glide over things and dash forward to fight enemies. Virgil can slide under threats and double jump. No matter who you play as, the result is a super generic and unnoteworthy runner. There is absolutely nothing done by Paws on Fire that isn't done anywhere else better. You'll spend your time jumping over spikes, bouncing off of extremely similar enemies, and collecting yarn balls so you can buy new costumes in the shop.
When it's not being generic, Paws on Fire can get rather frustrating. Enemy hitboxes make little sense. Sometimes I would run into the side of an enemy and they'd die, while other times I'd jump on them and I'd die. More than a few times, the game's recommended path (the one it lays out with yarns to keep you on) leads you into traps that are nearly impossible to dodge. It's also annoying how Bubsy's rules will just change to try and catch you off guard. A fire hydrant, while playing as Bubsy, shoots out water that he can bounce off of. As Virgil, getting close to a fire hydrant will cause it to shoot fire at you and kill you. Why? Establishing one thing and then turning it on its head for a cheap "got ya!" death is just annoying.
Changing Gameplay Styles in Bubsy: Paws on Fire!
If you tire of running, you can play as the third character, Woolie. Her segments instead play as shoot 'em ups, giving you something a little different to do. She can move around, shoot things... and that's about it. While the runner levels can range between generic and frustrating, the SHMUP levels are just straight up boring. Woolie's levels are so easy that I could feel myself falling asleep during them. Enemies rarely try to attack, instead usually just sitting in one spot and waiting for you to shoot them. At least I could get through them quickly, grabbing my victory medal on the way out.
Each level contains puzzle pieces and, if you collect them all with each character, you unlock a bonus level where you play as Arnold. His levels instead play as 3D runners, with you rolling forward while dodging boxes of farts. Why boxes of farts? I guess someone thought farts were funny. In theory, you collect gems and fruits while dodging the farts. In practice, the levels randomly reverse the controls for no reason, making this an exceedingly difficult task. The good news is that there are no actual threats that can stop you in the level, meaning you can set the controller down for a minute, watch Arnold plow through everything, and win.
Bubsy: Paws on Fire! Review | Final Thoughts
There are thirty levels in Paws on Fire which, in a normal runner, should take about 2 hours to finish. Of course, this is not a normal runner, this is a Bubsy runner, so naturally, it doesn't work that way. Instead, you earn a medal every time you finish a level with a character and often have to replay levels with each character in order to advance. By the end of the game, I had to play all 30 levels with at least two characters, about half with a third, and all the bonus levels in at least one world just to finish the game. It turns a 2-hour game into a 5-hour game almost entirely because of padding.
In a really weird way, Bubsy: Paws on Fire! is probably the best Bubsy game ever made. Of course, it's still a generic runner at the best of times with unfortunate hitboxes, terrible padding, boring SHMUP levels, and awful controls. Even still, Bubsy's low bar raises ever so slightly in Paws on Fire! I guess, with this level of output, Bubsy has a chance of finally getting a good game in 2039. This is, of course, assuming each Bubsy game scores .5 points higher and comes out every two years. Mathematically, Bubsy has to be good eventually, right?
Actually, on second thought, let's just not make another Bubsy game.
TechRaptor reviewed Bubsy: Paws on Fire! on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and is coming to Nintendo Switch.
At its peak, Bubsy: Paws on Fire! is a generic runner that brings nothing new to the genre other than messed up hitboxes, poor controls, and awful padding. It also tries to be a boring SHMUP for some reason.
- The Best Bubsy Game Yet!
- Hitboxes Often Make No Sense
- SHMUP Segments are Boring
- Bad Controls
- Tons of Padding