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from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 1
||| Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales ||| By: Dimitri Mark LaBarge / | \ GEnie: AEO.6 CIS: 71501,3353 AOL: dimitril ---------------------------------------------------------------- You know, it's funny - a year ago, I wouldn't have wanted to get near a cat. They just seemed to be totally alien to my personality. Then I moved to Nashville with a house full of cats, and suddenly I found myself kin with the little beasts. Maybe that explains why I've found this new version of Bubsy to be such a blast. Or maybe it's just a whole-heartedly fun game with that most rare of qualities in an age of "Pick-and-Flick" adventures - undeniable charm. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Starters =-=-=-=-=-=-= The game opens with a standard title screen and a perky title song; from there you can access the Options screen, which lets you pick the number of players (a nice option is allowing you to select 2 players with either 1 or 2 joypads), enter passcodes, set your controls and so forth. From there, you can enter the game at any time. The game itself consists of fifteen very long levels, broken up into five motifs of three chapters each. Each motif features a takeoff on a different fairy tale - the game designers have chosen to lovingly warp Alice in Wonderland, Jack and the Beanstalk, Arabian Nights, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Hansel & Gretel (with such pun-laden titles as Alice Doesn't Live Around Here Anymore). Unlike other platformers, where your actions are almost always the same, the motifs do tend to affect gameplay. For instance, navigating the cup stairways and mushrooms in the Alice in Wonderland scenario tends to be a much different challenge than climbing the ascending beanstalk in the Jack and the Beanstalk levels, or wobbling around in a bubble in the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sequence. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Control Yourself =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Bubsy has three basic controls, which prove quite effective: Look, High Jump and Jump/Glide. Using the Look command lets you take a brief glance in any direction, which can be helpful in spotting a lingering enemy (very necessary for getting the drop on Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dummer, a bigger Menace-2-Society than you might expect). High Jump give you a nice, long jump, whereas Jump/Glide gives you a brief popup in the air. Using the controls in concert propels you a long way towards completing the game - running and jumping only will cause a very premature death... remember, you're a cat, not an Italian plumber. For instance, jumping on your enemies to bop them out of existence is a bit of a trick proposition - but using your high jump, and then activating the jump/glide button will give you a short, easily controlled flight to your adversary's doom. This is even more effective when combined with a run - simply a matter of holding down the directional pad either left or right. Using this, you can achieve glides of fairly startling distances. I find the control very well designed, and the joypad is greatly suited to this sort of game. //// Bag o'Goodies Bubsy has a few tools to help him on his journey - a T-shirt to add an extra Bubsy to your count. You start out with a generous ten Bubsys, but in fine cat tradtion, you get that many lives because you NEED them. Level markers are placed at strategic locations, letting you start from that position should you die prematurely. Another T-shirt will give you invincibility for a short time, and you can open crates with random contents (my favorite is one that explodes with bananas, making the surface you're on very slippery if you start to run). A password is provided upon the completion of each individual level, which is a godsend. Last but not least is a transporter device, which can take you through a shortcut within levels. You'll have to look carefully to find the needed switches to open up important areas in the game. //// The Blue (Green, and Red) Meanies The enemies are a varied lot, and while there are certain generic enemies that seem to show up with unwelcome frequency between the motifs (there are psychotic wasps that are a bit too difficult and random to handle - you have to jump and glide into them - they're even worse when they start flying in packs on later levels), on the whole, the enemies are well chosen and sweetly animated for each level. Playing cards, Cheshire Cats and White Rabbits can be found in the first three levels, whereas thugs such as harem guards and stabbing sharks patrol later levels (and don't even ask me about the hamster in the submarine). Bosses such as the Mad Hatter also show up for an added challenge at the end of each motif. A lot of thought was put into bringing these characters to life - for instance, the Ali Baba-style harem guard lunges at you almost immediately to split you in half, but if you jump and glide down upon him, he's too dumb to look up. In the best Chuck Jones style, he starts looking left, right, and at his feet until doom descends upon him. Bubsy is as well-animated as the rest, especially when he gets tired of waiting for you to move and knocks on the television screen for your attention... The only complaint I have in this area is that there's not enough variety between levels. While the first level in each motif is filled with these imaginative enemies and character designs, they generally don't change after the first level featuring them, leading to an unfortunate monotony. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Levelling With You =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= The game levels... well, they are long. Long. Oh boy, looooooong. While they're well-thought out, and definitely keep the game a challenge for longer than you'd expect, after you've died a bunch of times you start to wonder if you've hit upon way too much of a good thing. This may be a by-product of the same affliction as the enemies - wonderful artifacts of invention are extremely pleasing in the first level of the motif, but when they don't really change or add anything new in the second or third rounds of that fantasy scenario, then some of the fun tends to drain out. Perhaps this game was designed too well, because the good stuff is so well designed that it's a letdown when you don't get more of it. However, the challenges that are there are nicely developed. My favorite have been the mushroom patches, some of which just seem to go up forever. The game takes into account the curved surfaces of the mushrooms, and gives you a struggle to balance yourself to the top of the 'shroom (and smaller ones are harder still!). Slippery rocks work the same way, and it's a good (if maddening) touch. You'll need your jumping and gliding skills to get across some of the wide, wide lakes - remember, cats HATE water! - as well as avoiding fatal falls down hollow wells. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// A Graphic Analysis =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= The graphics and animation, as mentioned before, are by far the best aspect of the game. Lovely parallax scrolling enhances the gorgeous, stylized fantasy backdrops while your enemies pass by in fluidly animated style. There's a fine spirit of Warner Bros. working here, and is what lends the game its charm. If Bubsy slams into a wall, not only does he conk out with birds floating above him, but he starts swiping at the birds; grumpy-looking cactii look at you suspiciously then charge you. The color selections are well chosen, and the graphics are by far the crispest of any of the Bubsy versions. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Sounding Off =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= The only truly weak spot in the game is its sound and music. It's not that they're if low quality - they're not. In fact, they definitely impress on first listen - each level opens with a nice sample of Bubsy saying some smartalec remark. It's the listens after that when they start to grate. Now, the bips and bops of Bubsy collecting point coins and leaping on enemies are inoffensive and nothing special, but nothing distracting either. Unfortunately, that's the best that can be said. Again, we wind up with the problem of repetition dimishing the game a bit. While I like the speech sample that opens the level, it doesn't vary except between motifs. The same is true of the music. While these two items are of good quality, it makes the whole game suffer when you have to go through them again everytime you die. This is the one area of the game that needed a great more improvement. This wouldn't have been such a big drag if you could just turn it off - and with the music, you can. But you still have to listen to that sample every time you start over, and you do tend to start thinking of more pleasant things to do than going through that again - like shoving bamboo shoots underneath Bubsy's nails. In the end, don't make any more of it than it actually is. Bubsy is an all-around fun game, with some absolutely wonderful elements compromised slightly by repetition; but in this reviewer's opinion, the platformer of choice for the Jag, and a perfectly priced Darn Good Time (TM). =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Bubsy in Fractured Price: $49.95(US) Fairy Tales JagNet: No Programmed: Imagitic Design Players: 1-2 Publisher: Atari Age Rating: K-A (Kids to Adult 6+) Le Summary du ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars maximum Control: *** Easy to play, but jumping and gliding takes some practice. Gameplay: *** Addicting and fun, but too much of the same thing dulls excitement. Graphics: ***+ Terrific and imaginative. Half a point off for repetition, though. Sound: *+ I don't think so. Headphones with Peter Gabriel or Zamfir required. Overall: *** Not a must buy, but a clever, funny platformer. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.
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