After two decades of being an outcast, Bubsy the bobcat is back in a brand new adventure in the HD era of gaming. But does he fit in? Are the other platformers laughing at him and making a mockery of what he has become? Is The Woolies Strike Back any good? No. Yes. And no.
Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back is the latest game to feature the old mascot of 16-bit gaming. The less said about his first and last venture in 3D, the better. The new release aims to capture the charm of the original but it manages to fail at just about every turn.
I was actually a big fan of Bubsy when I was a kid and I remember running around collecting yarns, or as I called them ‘colour rings’, with joyous feelings. The first couple of games were pretty good but it all went downhill afterwards. Unfortunately that trajectory isn’t looking any better with The Woolies Strike Back.
As you can imagine, The Woolies Strike Back is a 2D platformer – the developers wisely ditched the 3D in an effort to recreate something half decent. And, to be fair, Bubsy is half decent in places, but not very many. For the most part it’s a lesson in frustration
Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back sees the return of titular aliens. Bubsy wants them gone and he wants to collect his yarn. That’s about as much story as you’re going to get and, in fairness, we never really play these 2D platformers for their Shakespearean tales of tragic romance. At least I don’t…
Story aside, then, the gameplay is what’s going to matter to players. I’m sorry to say that it’s not all that compelling and there are a lot of problems that, if they were fixed, would make Bubsy’s return a little less painful. For one, the controls are downright shite. Bubsy slips and slides like he’s not got full control of his own legs, and when it comes to platforming you’d better get your prayer beads ready because it’ll be a miracle if you manage to make it through a single level without a cheap platforming-related death.
You’ve still got your classic Bubsy moves of, erm, run forward, backwards, jump, and glide, but there is a new move, too, that allows Bubsy to pounce. Neat addition? No. It’s next to bloody useless. You have no control of the trajectory, so if you intend to kill an enemy by pouncing on its head, you’re going to die. Lots. I did. I found it was better to just use the pounce move as an extra means to getting around, and then do a simple jump on the enemies.
The game could have been a little more bearable had the levels been better. The fact is that they’re short, not very challenging, and they’re over in a flash if you don’t bother collecting the bits of yarn and what have you. You can easily breeze through Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back in a couple of hours. The playtime could have been fluffed out a little with the game’s three bosses, but that isn’t the case. The bosses are, as far as I can tell, completely the same but with different colours. This wouldn’t be too bad if they posed a challenge but, as you may have already guessed by now, they don’t.
This is the common theme with The Woolies Strike back. To be honest, I don’t know why this game was even made. Was anyone really asking for it? Was the demand great? Obviously not, otherwise we’d have gotten a product that makes fans of Bubsy’s heritage happy, not frustrated. I can’t in good conscience recommend this game to anyone but the most hardcore Bubsy fans, which I’m guessing is in the double digits at most…
Visually the game is pretty poor, too. It’s serviceable, sure, but it just looks a little… crap? There’s not much going on at any moment and the levels all kind of blend into the same structure, even those that take place in different locations. Even though the scenery changes in these locations, they just feel too similar to the opening act due to the lackluster level design.
All in all, Bubsy’s return is a stinking disappointment. There’s just nothing to it that says “hey, I’m Bubsy, I’m worth $30!”. If you’re really gagging to play it, wait until the inevitable price drop to less than a fiver.
Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back PS4 Review
Bubsy's return to the living room screen could have been a triumphant one. But it wasn't. It could have been an OK one. But it wasn't. It was just downright boring. It feels like a random platformer you'd get on your phone, but instead of it being a Mario rip-off, it's got Bubsy thrown in instead. Leave this kitty alone.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.