(in Fractured Furry Tales)
by Robert A. Jung
Atari Corp., for the Atari Jaguar
The cat is back! Fresh from saving Earth from the Woolies and restoring reality from the chaos of the Amazatorium, Bubsy the Bobcat has been recruited for another adventure. In Bubsy: Fractured Furry Tales, the feisty feline has to restore order to five children's stories and rescue the missing Mother Goose. One or two players get to help Bubsy run, glide, and pounce freely through fifteen side-scrolling levels. While searching for the exit, he has to deal with punk flamingos, ninja squids, and other nuisances, along with grabbing bonus points and other benefits. The bobcat dies if he touches an enemy or falls too far, and the game ends when all of his lives are exhausted. Finally, a password feature allows players to start from any stage.
Let's get one thing straight -- Bubsy: Fractured Furry Tales is a no-nonsense platform game. Players who want a groundbreaking title for the Jaguar should look elsewhere, as this is a meat-and-potatoes game that gets played between blockbusters. Fans of Accolade's original Bubsy who were disappointed with Bubsy II will be pleased with Fractured Furry Tales. This Jaguar adaptation/sequel uses the same controls and mechanics of the original, but offers new levels and new challenges within that context.
Taken on its own, Bubsy on the Jaguar remains a good game. Each of the levels are incredibly huge; even when you know a level's layout, it'll take several minutes to reach the exit. Rushing through the stages is a bad idea, as the game rewards caution and strategy while punishing overeager players. There is also more emphasis on exploration than in other platform games. Finding the exit is not a matter of simply going from left to right, but of activating switches to other areas, navigating twisty mazes, and looking for extra lives and continuation points in the nooks and crannys.
Bubsy is not without flaws, however. The game's simple actions and cute characters target it for younger players, but the difficulty level may be a bit hard for them. As there is no way to change this, adults may not want to give this cartridge to less talented players. It's also a very tightly patterned game; the locations of enemies and objects never change, allowing mastery with experience but reducing the replay value. In a final oddity, the game saves the ten best scores to cartridge, but uses passwords to restore earlier games.
As with the game itself, the graphics and sound on Bubsy are very closely tied to the original Genesis/Super Nintendo title. The visuals are colorful and animated well, yet there are little of the more spectacular effects present in some other platform games. Scrolling is always smooth, but the screen jumps a little when Bubsy stops suddenly. And when Bubsy takes a hit, the animated "death" is often over very quickly -- which is a shame, since some of those scenes are rather amusing.
The audio presents nothing that haven't been done before. Sound effects are few and simple, consisting mainly of Bubsy's jumps and assorted tones when he grabs items. The music is better, consisting of a variety of bouncy compositions that don't irritate quickly, though done mostly in the same whistling calliope sound as other video games. And as in the original Bubsy, each level starts with a snide comment from the bobcat, though they're not as varied as in the other games.
There's nothing amazingly spectacular about Bubsy: Fractured Furry Tales. What it does offer is a well-rounded platform game that will give plenty of hours of fun. Enthusiasts of the first Bubsy adventure and of platformers in general will find this a decent title to add to their collection.