By Michael Fontanini / July 30th, 2019
|Title||Bubsy: Paws On Fire!|
|Release Date||May 16th, 2019|
In Bubsy: Paws On Fire!, Oinker P. Hamm is on a mad quest to capture every animal from all over the universe for his “Amazootorium.” It’s up to Bubsy the bobcat to save the day, as he runs through levels dodging enemies and grabbing as many collectibles as he can. Not exactly your typical hero, Bubsy is acting more out of self-preservation than altruism, but he may just save the world anyway.
The game is divided into a ton of levels spread across several different worlds. Each main level on the map has three stages, one for each of the three main characters – Bubsy, Virgil, and Woolie. There are three medal pieces to collect in each stage, and getting them all in a single run will get you a victory medal. You need a certain number of these to unlock each level. The game does not require you to collect them all to beat it, though. If you collect a victory medal in a stage with all three characters, then you unlock a bonus stage where you roll through a tube level as Arnold (the blue guy in the image above). There are also 150 collectibles in each stage (per character), which are used as currency in the game. This allows you to unlock cosmetic outfits for each character in the shop.
With Bubsy and Virgil, you run on the ground. You can jump over obstacles, or crouch to slide under them. You can also press down in midair to quickly return to the ground. You’ll often jump on and bounce from enemy to enemy, too. On the other hand, Woolie flies a UFO through her stages. Each of the three main characters has special abilities to make use of in their version of each level. Bubsy can glide through the air for a limited time. Virgil can jump again while in midair, though his single jump is shorter than Bubsy’s. Woolie has the ability to fire laser shots from her UFO to blast enemies out of the way. However, she cannot move as fast while firing, which is a very important mechanic if you want to get all those shiny collectibles! Faster movement is required for some of them.
Each main character has their own collectible items strewn about their version of each stage. For example, Bubsy collects colored yarn balls, while Arnold collects green gems. This means there are four currencies. Each cosmetic outfit you can buy in the shop costs some of each currency, so you’ll need to play each stage as all of the characters to earn each type. The shop is accessible from the map screen. Each character’s version of a stage plays significantly differently from the others thanks to their different abilities, and many changes made to the stage itself to take advantage of them. This can include collectibles, enemies, and other obstacles being moved around significantly.
The gameplay itself is pretty simple. The screen scrolls by itself, forcing you to do whatever it takes to dodge everything that comes your way. There are three checkpoints in every stage, so you don’t have to play the entire stage all over from the start if you die, which you will. It can also be rather tricky at times figuring out how exactly to get all the collectibles in an area. If you restart the level, your counter resets to 0 and you must collect them all again. The idea is that you can go back and best your previous high score. Some levels are quite a challenge to grab all 150 collectibles with some characters. Woolie’s version of each level tends to be easier than Bubsy’s and Virgil’s stages. The upper-left of the screen shows how many victory medal pieces you’ve grabbed in this run, followed by your score, and how many of the collectibles you’ve nabbed in this run.
Bubsy: Paws On Fire! does keep track of your high score on each level separately for each character (as seen in the map screenshot above). So if you haven’t gotten all 150 collectibles with a character in a certain stage, you can go back and try to top your best run to earn a little more currency. The game also has a more standard scoring system that earns you points for killing enemies and other things. For example, you can get bonus points by filling the bonus gauge at the top-right of the screen via grabbing collectibles and more. You can see how you stack up to other players on the desired level by opening its leaderboard on the map screen.
If you’ve unlocked the bonus stage associated with a level, you can play it to collect green gems (Arnold’s currency item). You can use the joystick to roll on any part of the tube to dodge items and grab collectibles. These levels are pretty basic, but not so easy if you want to get all 150 gems. Some of them will take you a whole lot of tries to pull it off getting them all.
Bubsy: Paws On Fire! has a boss fight at the end of each world. The first one is an alien sitting in a UFO as shown below, and he is fairly easy, but the second one will kill you a number of times before you win. The first boss fight sees you shooting down a powerful enemy as Bubsy flying in Woolie’s UFO. The second boss is a platforming challenge. When you take down the boss, you will of course gain access to the next world.
The gameplay is simple but challenging, with some areas being very hard to get all the collectibles. You will die many times, especially if you go for 100%. There are some annoying areas, though. For example, in some stages you’ll encounter a victory medal piece that is poorly placed just before a checkpoint in a hard to reach spot. This means that if you miss it, you will quickly hit the next checkpoint, meaning you have to restart the stage from the beginning to have another shot at it. This is because there is no way to start from a previous checkpoint. When you die, you start from the most recently reached one. Sometimes I’ve seen a medal piece set up like this right before the finish line at the end of a level. If there is nothing to kill yourself on, you’ll cross the finish line and have to start the level from the beginning to try getting the victory medal pieces again.
The music in the game is generally pretty good. The menu music is a bit catchy, and the all of the music has a lighthearted, cartoony tone. The sound effects follow a similar style and do their job well, so the sound and music mesh well with the visuals. The one significant issue with the game I’ve experienced is that the movement of foreground objects (enemies, and the stage obstacles) stutters. This has been brought up in the Steam forums by another user, and the developer said he needs to compare it with a previous game (Runner 3) that didn’t have the issue to figure out what’s going on. He wants to fix it when he has time, but it has not been fixed as of yet. Fortunately, this issue is just a minor annoyance.
Bubsy: Paws On Fire! is a simple, but fun game. If you’re a completionist, this one will probably keep you busy for quite some time. You can beat the game in under 10 hours, but it’ll take you much longer if you go for 100%. In most levels, getting the majority of collectibles is fairly easy, but getting them all can be pretty tricky in many cases. This is especially true since you have to get them all in a single run for it to count. Bubsy: Paws On Fire! is available on Steam for $24.99. It is also available on PlayStation 4, and will be launching on the Nintendo Switch on August 29th. Do you have the skills needed to stop Oinker P. Hamm and nab all the shiny collectibles?
Review copy provided by publisher.
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