Review – Bubsy: Paws on Fire

I think I speak for everyone when I say that nobody, absolutely nobody wanted Bubsy to make a comeback. Even though I didn’t grow up hating the Super Nintendo games (I avoided Bubsy 3D like the plague), I just never understood Bubsy‘s appeal. The gameplay was bland. The character design was uninspired. The one-liners made Gex sound like Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool. Yet they decided to bring that obnoxious feline back from the dead with the mediocre, but not quite terrible, Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back. I thought that was the end of our suffering, but lo and behold, they decided to release yet another Bubsy game this generation. Bubsy is back with the even more underwhelming title, Bubsy: Paws on Fire.


And you thought it was impossible to make a Bubsy game even more visually unappealing than Woolies Strike Back…

Instead of a run-of-the-mill 2.5D platformer, Bubsy: Paws on Fire is now an auto-runner, not unlike games like Super Mario Run and Bit.Trip. It was even developed by the same folks who developed the latter. The running is handled by the game itself: all you have to do is handle the jumping and attacking occasional enemies. This is my first issue with the game. Weirdly enough, for as generic as The Woolies Strike Back was, the gameplay involved a tiny bit of exploration, which encouraged a microscopic, but still existant, amount of replayability. In Paws on Fire, all you have to do is avoid obstacles until you reach the end of the stage, as well as collect a few pieces of a coin in each level. It’s just not as fun.

Bubsy still has his amazing superpowers of jumping, gliding, pouncing, and never shutting up. He’s not alone in this game though, as for reasons unknown the developers have decided to include even more playable characters in Paws on Fire. One of them is a vole called Virgil, another is an armadillo called Arnold, and the final playable character is one of those generic “woolies” riding a spaceship. Virgil is slower than Bubsy, and can’t glide, but he can perform a (very unresponsive) double jump. Arnold’s levels, which are separated from the rest of the game and require collecting special coins in order to be unlocked, are your typical infinite runner. Woolie, weirdly enough, is the game’s small beacon of hope, as her levels are actually side-scrolling shooters. They’re not inventive or groundbreaking, and Woolie’s ship’s controls are way too sensitive, but compared to the rest of the game, it’s like I’m playing a timeless gem like Gradius or Ikaruga.


You don’t need a helmet like this to have an awful, frustrating time while playing this game…

The gameplay, as previously mentioned, is dull and uninspired. The controls are either too stiff when playing as Virgil, or too sensitive when playing as Woolie. There is a noticeable amount of input lag and the collision detection is all over the place. With all that being said, that’s not what frustrated me the most while playing Paws on Fire. It wasn’t even Bubsy spitting out unfunny one-liners or the horrendous level names, such as “Careless Whisker”. No, what irritated me the most was the game’s repetitiveness.

You need a set amount of tokens to unlock levels. In order to collect these tokens, you need to beat each level as each separate character. That means that you’ll need to beat a single level at least twice, usually by playing as Bubsy in one go and as Woolie in another go, or in case you really hate yourself, playing as Virgil as well. The fact that Paws on Fire basically forces you to play through a level more than once just to satiate an unfair collectible requirement is a ridiculous way to artificially extend the game’s overall duration.


Playing as Virgil makes you wish you were playing as Bubsy instead. I think that was the actual reason he was included in this game.

I don’t know who this game was made for and why was this game developed in the first place. Was The Woolies Strike Back that much of a hit? Did people really crave for yet another Bubsy title? I understand releasing one Bubsy game as some kind of sick yet oddly amusing joke, but I don’t get the point of releasing Paws on Fire. It’s even more underwhelming than its already mediocre predecessor, with bland levels, stiff controls, irritating characters, and a tedious gameplay loop. I think it’s time to put this one-note joke to rest. Goodbye Bubsy, please don’t make yet another comeback. I’d rather play a new Glover instead.


Graphics: 4.5

The character models and lighting effects have been improved, but this game manages to look even more barren and uninspiring than its already bland predecessor.

Gameplay: 4.5

The auto-runner gameplay removes one of the very few interesting things about the Bubsy games: exploration. The controls are either too sluggish or too sensitive, depending on the character you’re playing as.

Sound: 5.0

The soundtrack isn’t as good as the one featured in the last game and now there are even more hateful characters spitting out unfunny puns in this title. Hooray…

Fun Factor: 4.0

This can be moderately tolerable in short bursts and the shooter levels aren’t terrible, but the bland visuals, annoying jokes, and repetitive nature of the game make it unbearable after a while.

Final Verdict: 4.5

Bubsy: Paws on Fire is available now on PS4 and PC.

Reviewed on PC.