Bubsy, the most infamous bobcat in all gaming, returns once more — this time in Bubsy: Paws on Fire!, developed by Choice Provisions and published by Accolade. Instead of a pure platformer, the bobcat’s latest outing is a runner — and not one that sets anything ablaze.
This time, in Bubsy: Paws on Fire!, Oinker P. Hamm plans to abduct every animal in the universe and Bubsy must stop him. You don’t remember Oinker P. Hamm? Well, he hasn’t made much of an appearance since 1994, so that’s understandable. Bubsy, on the other hand, is almost infamous at this point. He is the Jason Vorhees of mascot characters – you think he’s gone for good this time, but no, he always comes back.
More well-known – at least among Bubsy fans – are the Woolies; a race of yarn-stealing aliens. The situation in Bubsy: Paws on Fire! is so dire that they send their best soldier, Woolie, to help Bubsy. Also playable are Virgil reality, Oinker’s former assistant and Arnold the Armadillo.
Bubsy: Paws on Fire! comes with a simple formula: run to until you reach the end of a stage and collect picks. That’s pretty much it. That said, the game does come with different mechanics for every character. Bubsy, the main attraction, can glide and dash into enemies. Virgil can slide along the ground and perform double jumps.
Woolie – whose parents apparently named her after their species – changed things up quite a bit and flies around in a laser-equipped UFO, turning her stages into a shmup sections. Arnold, on the other hand, lifts his tunnel-like levels straight from Sonic the Hedge 2 special stages.
Bubsy: Paws on Fire! does have a nice bit of variety, and even though the three main characters share all levels, the level design changes to accommodate their playstyle. This ties straight in the game’s progression system: every stage requires a number of medals to unlock and completing a stage with a character grants you one of said medals.
The progression isn’t strictly linear, however, and levels don’t require you to earn each and every medal. Also optional are the Arnold medallion pieces, which unlock Arnold’s bonus stages, and currency (in the form of yarn and other items) which can be used to buy new costumes.
All of this is great, but Bubsy: Paws on Fire! nevertheless feels a bit empty. Being a runner, its level design is limited, and for the most part boils down to platforms and stuff you aren’t allowed to touch. The various world primarily just add a different background and not much else.
Collecting each and every item may draw in certain players, but buying new costumes isn’t that exciting, and replaying entire stages just to get that one ball of yarn gets old fast, as playing through the game is already somewhat repetitive all by itself.
The music in Bubsy: Paws on Fire! is adequate but not outstanding, and the graphics suffer from an overuse of bloom effects, a sterile look and small characters. The latter are a good choice from a gameplay perspective, but make your snazzy new costumes difficult to appreciate.
Bubsy: Paws on Fire! is a serviceable runner whose gameplay feels like a wide but shallow pool, barely elevated above the next forgettable platformer by the reputation of its mascot protagonist.
Bubsy: Paws on Fire! is now available for PC and Playstation 4.