Bubsy the Bobcat has had a short and rough life. He debuted on the 16-bit systems as an edgy furry mascot, because every company and their neighbor thought that’s what they needed to hit it big. The grand plans of him taking over the world with merchandising, games, and a cartoon show fell apart thanks to mediocre entries that didn’t catch on with the gaming public. The now infamous Bubsy 3D was the nail in the proverbial coffin, earning it the honors among some circles as the worst 3D platformer ever created. Now he’s back to try and break the curse of mediocrity with Bubsy: Paws On Fire, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Err…this cat has nine lives? Yeah, that’s the saying.
Trying to cash in on a craze that probably hit its peak ten years ago (poor Bubsy), this auto-runner will have you playing as one of four different characters. Each has its own gameplay mechanics. Bubsy, for example, can of course jump on enemies, reach platforms and use his traditional glide and paw swipe moves. Virgil has a helpful double jump and can also pound the ground. Take control of The Woolie and you’ll be treated to a sidescrolling shooter and you play as Arnold in the bonus levels. The change of pace is very welcome indeed.
Out of all four characters, somehow Bubsy seems to be the least fun to play as. This is primarily due to his gliding being a tad wonky. The rate of descent as you float along is never consistent. Sometimes you’ll float like a feather and other times you’ll fall like a brick. As you might imagine, this makes it nearly impossible to time jumps, making his levels the last fun to play. Virgil’s stages are much more entertaining thanks to his double jump technique and his ground pound that can easily take down enemies. Woolies’ levels are also very fun to play, but Arnold’s are definitely the best ones of the bunch. I’d have preferred a whole game comprised of his courses, but alas they’re few and far between.
Bubsy: Paws on Fire features over 100 stages across various worlds. You can play each level with the three different characters to earn medals to unlock new ones. You’ll need to find pieces of a medallion hidden in each of the characters’ runs to unlock the Arnold bonus content. Yarn balls are back, but they now serve as the game’s currency, which you can then spend to unlock an assortment of costumes for each character to wear.
Beyond that, there really isn’t anything special to say about this game. Its gameplay and level design is very lackluster, more so now that the game is an auto-runner. Every level is designed the same, and for the most part, the enemies and obstacles don’t really change up the game all that much. It’s fine to play for a few levels, but then the repetitive nature really takes a toll on you. Progression in this game is sluggish, and you don’t feel rewarded for it. The best levels in this game are the bonus levels, but even they get old after a while with no real challenge being added to them.
Overall, this game feels like it stretched its bare-minimum assets into a full game. It lacks a magical spark of innovation or surprise that’s so often found in the A-Tier of games. Only three boss battles in the game help break up the monotony, but in the end it’s just more of the same. Odd inclusions, such as the opening cinematic showing Bubsy in a school gymnasium and then not referencing it anywhere else in the game and the first stage all of a sudden taking place in a forest make little sense. In the end Bubsy is still a has-been washed up mascot that probably should finally throw in the towel.
Bubsy: Paws On Fire Review
- Graphics - 5.5/105.5/10
- Sound - 5/105/10
- Gameplay - 5.5/105.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 3.5/103.5/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
Bubsy: Paws on Fire tries to change things up by becoming an auto-runner, but sadly it’s not enough to break the curse of mediocrity. It’s fun to play for the first few minutes, but it gets old really fast. With plenty of better platformers to choose from on the Switch, you can sleep easy knowing you passed this one up.