Several factors tried to prevent me from playing Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back when I first turned it on. Windows Defender was concerned about the program I was running, Steam tried to mess up installing it, at least four friends of mine told me not to, the game even crashed the first time I opened it up. I persisted. I wanted to see how Bubsy's grand return would be first hand. Can the cat live down the infamous Bubsy 3D? Surely it's not that bad.
The game opens up with the only story it really needs. A weird alien race known as the Woolies show up and steal Bubsy's golden yarn ball, so he needs to get it back. The lack of a story isn't really a big deal, but what is a big deal is how horrifically annoying Bubsy is and how bad the one-liners he states are. Ever wanted to hear "How am I gliding? I have no idea!" about five times in as many minutes? In an annoying voice that must have been developed by scratching nails on a chalkboard? Then this is the game for you. One level opened with Bubsy saying "Is the writer's strike over yet?" and I have absolutely no clue why. Speaking of, all the levels have cutesy 'pun' or cat names. One level is called "No Country For Old Cats". Get it? The only good news is that you can go into the menu and mute Bubsy. Or you can double the frequency of his one-liners if you just totally hate yourself.
The game is a 2.5D platformer where your goal is simply to get to the end of each level. This is far more difficult than it sounds, but not because of any of the challenges in your way. Rather, it's because of controls that could best be described by IT's famous "you'll float too" line. Bubsy controls like a bobcat on ice skates, often vastly overshooting the place I want him to stop or the platform I'm trying to land on. It was extremely difficult to make precision jumps and landing on the heads of enemies was way more difficult than it had any right to be.
Not like any of the enemies are really that interesting. For the majority of the game, there are only two. You got a Goomba-like enemy that just walks in a straight line waiting to be jumped on, and you got a flying enemy that does the same thing but it flies. Late in the game, there's also a robot enemy that charges in a straight line, but this is the only new addition after the first level during the game's super short running time of about 90 minutes. Bubsy can fight back by jumping on enemies, but this is difficult thanks to super inconsistent hitboxes that either saw me jump on enemies and promptly die, or saw enemies run into me and suddenly fall over dead. Bubsy also has a totally useless pounce attack that actually arcs perfectly over enemies heads.
Enemies aren't the only repetitive and boring element. After you've finished the first level of Bubsy, you've basically played them all. There's never a level that provides some sort of special gimmick to make it stand out in any way. The game continues to repeat the same few threats over and over like it wasn't sure what else to do with its time. It's like only a few threats were actually designed and the developers just kept reusing them so they didn't have to make more. If nothing else, the game is at least hilariously easy. It's possible to skip large swaths of levels simply by getting as high into the air as you can and then gliding to the right, allowing you to ignore everything if you please.
There's also a trio of boss fights in the game, and much like the levels they suffer from all being very similar. All three boss fights are against UFO-styled enemies that mostly have the same few attacks. Only the second boss displays anything even vaguely close to a creative idea, with a laser attack that requires Bubsy to 'fly' through the attacks Flappy Bird-style. Yes, Bubsy's crowning creative achievement is ripping off Flappy Bird.
After you finish the game (which, again, is only around 90 minutes long) you can replay levels for the many collectibles littered around it. I don't entirely know why you'd want to do this, as there are no real rewards outside of getting achievements and it requires spending more time digging around Bubsy's levels and listening to awful one-liners. You can collect yarn balls to drive up your score even though that never matters at all. Or you can find all the t-shirts to get more lives that you can't actually carry out of the level with you. If you're really interested you can look around the super generic levels while you do this. Bubsy may be colorful, but nothing actually stands out as unique. It's the same vaguely forest area or vaguely desert area you've seen in basically everything else.
I can only assume that the reasoning behind Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back's creation was because someone saw Night in the Woods and thought there was a market for games with cats who are total failures at life. While Night in the Woods was a heartfelt adventure that combined both gameplay and story in a way that ended up as something beautiful, Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back is a horrid video game that combines a terrible main character with awful gameplay to create something terrible.
When Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back is at its best, the words I would use to describe it include "soulless", "mediocre", and "annoying". Somehow the game is rarely at its best, leading to a total disaster.
- One Segment Rips Off Flappy Bird
- Bubsy Is Annoying
- Terrible Controls
- Weird Abilities
- Awful Bosses
- Extremely Short