Capsule Review: Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back

A collaboration between Bubsy franchise publisher Accolade and Giana Sisters developer Black Forest Games and the first Bubsy game in twenty-one years. As Bubsy, explore a series of 2D platforming levels while avoiding hazards, defeating enemies, and collecting yarn.

Bubsy can run, jump, climb certain walls, double-jump into a glide, and “pounce.” This last move is an arching forward attack that can take out enemies and break certain walls, but its motion is hard to predict until you get the hang of it. The tutorials imply this is intended to be your primary method of attacking enemies, but I had a tendency to pounce right over enemies or land next to them and immediately get hit by them. It was much more consistent to jump on enemies instead, and reserve the pounce for wall-breaking and traversal.

That traversal is where things get interesting. While in midair, Bubsy can trigger a glide or a pounce (though he cannot cancel out of one into the other) and hitting an enemy resets him for another jump, glide, or pounce. Levels present a variety of opportunities to chain moves together in surprising and satisfying ways to reach collectibles. These moments are when the game is at its best - and helpfully, all of it is optional. The hardest platforming is always off the main path and all you need to do to finish the level is reach the end. It’s much more fun to figure out how to pick up all the collectibles along the way, but if any of them are particularly troublesome you can skip them and keep going.

The three boss fights that serve as act breaks fare much worse. Every one is against a glass-domed UFO and you just have to read its telegraphs and avoid its attacks until it moves into range for Bubsy to jump or pounce on the dome to attack it. Do this several times and the fight is over. There’s none of the exploration or move-chaining found elsewhere in the game and the results are tedious (especially with the second boss, which has less-readable telegraphs than the other two and is thus likely to require more attempts - it’s the only level in the game where I ran out of lives).

The game is also quite short. It only has fourteen levels - one of which is a tutorial and three of which are (largely tedious) boss fights. A level can be blasted through in a couple of minutes if you head straight for the exit; hunting down all the collectibles can expand the time to ten or twenty minutes. In total, even completionist playthroughs are unlikely to last more than a few hours. That doesn’t make those hours any less enjoyable, but if you’re concerned about dollars-per-hour then you probably don’t want to pay full price for this game. Rent it or wait for a sale.

Overall, Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back is a short, slightly unpolished game with a strong core. Fans of 2D collectathon platforming are likely to enjoy this one - just don’t go in expecting an epic or a masterpiece.

I Stopped Playing When: I fully completed the game, earning all optional achievements.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

You can get it or learn more here.