Bubsy: Fractured Furry Tales

Atari Jaguar

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


 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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