Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Great Playthrough - Game 45: Bubsy the Bobcat

The pictures are back! Look at me, clutching
that very damaged looking cartridge. It still plays though :)

Bubsy the Bobcat
Released on: Sega Megadrive, SNES, PC
Played on: Sega Megadrive
Release Date: 1993 (except PC, which was 1995)

This should be a game that I absolutely love. It's a colourful, 2D platformer on my favourite (non-Nintendo) console.... but do I love it? Well that's a question I shall answer throughout this blog...

(See! I learned from my last blog and am retaining a little mystery at the start! Look at me, I'm learning and growing...)

From the title screen, my hopes were high. The game has bright, lovely graphics and the full title is the brilliantly pun-tastic title "Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind." But as soon as I started to play, I started to notice a whisker of a problem.

This tail was not garnering a lot of A-Paws as I began the playthrough. The difficulty was quite high, with the game often making me-owt to be a much worse player than I am.

(Ouch - That's four Cat-Based puns in just over one paragraph. Oops. I'll stop now, I promise.)

But anyway, behind the awful puns, this game is far from purrfect...



But it's sadly true. And while I am not usually one to bemoan a difficult game, the difficulty really is a problem here. And it's a design flaw - I'm not complaining that the levels are badly designed, or that the enemies are over-powerful, it is simply that one hit kills Bubsy stone dead. Which is a problem with a speedy platformer. Sonic has his rings, Mario has his mushrooms, even Earthworm Jim has a health bar! But no, Bubsy gets no second chances whatsoever. Run into an enemy, or get hit by a falling egg, or fall off a too-high ledge, and that's it. You are dead.
Which is bloody irritating.

Especially when coupled with really erratic collision detection, which this game is sadly riddled with.

There are other faults as well, the levels are awkwardly designed - not necessarily badly designed, just so large (both horizontally and vertically) and repetitive, that on successive playthroughs you tend to get completely confused as to which sections you have done, and which you don't recognise. The music is repetitive and irritating, which isn't a game-breaker, but is mildly annoying, and the fact that there are two different jump buttons (a normal jump and a high jump), just adds confusion to the whole thing.

It isn't all bad news - the lovely 16-Bit cartoon-style graphics are a joy to look at, and the controls (apart from the jump buttons issue) are reasonable, if slightly wooly. But at every turn you are thwarted by the awkward difficulty level.

It's such a shame, because it is SO close to being an entertaining game, but the difficulty issues just totally ruin it for me. And the programmers were obviously aware of the issue, because instead of starting with 2 or 3 lives (as you would do in either Sonic or Mario), you start with nine. And I get why (yes, he's a cat so he has nine lives! Isn't that funny!) But it just highlights quite how easy it is to die in the game.

Sorry Bubsy, You may have come within a whisker of greatness, but you definitely failed to land on your feet...

Rating: 5/10
Time Played: 35 Minutes
Would I play it again? Unlikely....

Next time on Brawny's Great Playthrough, it's another Star Wars game! But which one? Come back and find out!

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Great Playthrough - Game 44: Worms World Party

Worms World Party
Released on: Dreamcast, Playstation, Game Boy Advance and Windows
Played on: Sony Playstation 2 (Don't you just love backwards compatability?)

(Before we get started, I would like to apologise for the lack of photograph on this blog - I am finshing up writing this not at home, so I don't have a picture. If anyone really wants me to include one, I'll add one later. But for now, no picture, so you won't get to see me holding the Worms World Party case - poor you!)

There are games that you know you like, and there are games that you remember that you like, but are disappointing when you go back to them. And then, there are games that you forget quite how amazingly pant-wettingly good they are. The last game in this playthrough where a game surprised me positively was Flashback, and as you can tell from my overtly enthusiastic introduction, Worms World Party belongs in this category.

(And yes, I know that I have broken all of the rules of any kind of review, by telling you how I feel about the thing I am reviewing in the first paragraph, but sod it, it's my blog!)

I have had many good times playing various iterations of Worms (at least in 2D) - starting with the original which I used to play on the PC, through to the the two iterations that I have for the Playstation - and it has provided many hours of entertainment both in single player and multi-player (and indeed, I have spent many hours sitting on a canal boat playing this game while drinking my own body weight in alcoholic beverages).

But why is it such a good game Brawny? I hear you all ask... OK, I didn't hear you ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway.

When it came out, I remember it being a rather new type of game, best described as "Lemmings with Guns". And if you try to describe it in genre, it sounds the dullest thing ever. A turn based game where you control a team of worms attempting to fight others. But it works, and it works so very very well.

But having not played it for... ooh, nearly 10 years or so, I did wonder if newer games would have sullied my memories of Worms. So imagine how delighted I was when I booted up the game and began to play. Firstly, it gives you ridiculous levels of customisation. You can name your own individual worms, choose which weapons are used, choose a landscape, special features, weapons drops etc - I spent a good ten minutes of my playthrough on the customisation screen, but unlike other games that have this sort of customisation / statistical options (and yes, I'm looking at you sports games, and particularly Speedball 2) - I didn't get bored at all, and that's pretty rare in an options screen!

Once I had my team and my setup, then I jumped into the game itself, and immediately took great delight in bombing and bazookaing (and yes, I have decided that IS a word, because I want it to be) the opposition until they were all satisfyingly dead. And then, I did it again. As well as the normal weapons (Uzis, Shotguns, Grenades etc.,) there is also the selection of idiotically stupid ones that are always available in these games. The Sheep (which runs across the terrain before exploding), the Concrete Donkey (which is exactly what it sounds like) and the Holy Handgrenade of Antioch. (Python alert!) And it's all couched in silly music, cartoony graphics and stupid sound effects.

But (and I know I have said this before) - it is FUN! Loads of fun!!

I'm not really sure what more to say. There are only minor downsides to the game - it can be awkward to enter names etc when you have to do so with a joypad, scrolling VERY slowly from letter to letter, and almost all of the labelling on menu screens is done with cartoony graphics, rather than text, so it can be a bit hard to figure out what you are selecting, unless you have had experience of the game before.

But if that's the worst I can think of? Then it's really not a bad game in any way whatsoever is it!

In conclusion then, I would much rather spend an evening playing Worms World Party with a group of friends, rather than any of the FPS's people seem to happily go around each others houses to play. Speaking of which - anyone fancy a Worms Tournament evening?

Rating: 9/10
Time Played: One Hour Ten Minutes
Would I play it again?: Of course!

Next time - The Megadrive gets dusted off for some platforming action! (And no, it's not a Sonic game)