Miner 2049er did it in the seventies, Rick Dangerous did it in the eighties, now the nineties platform adventurer is born. Simon Byron is going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. You can come too, too, too...
There are those that say zoos are awful places. That keeping animals caged and out of their natural habitats is the most cruel of all mankind's punishments towards Mother nature. There are also those that say they are great places. A chance to study nature's creations close-up, while taking care of those specimens that couldn't fend for themselves in the wild. Me? I just like them because you can watch monkeys playing with their genitalia.
For Bubba, an animal delivery man, zoos mean escape. Especially since the zoo in question belongs to an alien species and he is one of the exhibits. Luckily, the chance to escape is granted when the ship carrying him and his fellow alien captives loses control and accidentally jettisons them onto a nearby planet. From there, aided only by a friendly stick creature, Bubba has to find his way back to Earth, avoiding the alien zookeeper all the while.
In every genre of computer game, there are certain titles that stand out amongst the rest. These titles show exactly what can be done when the designers, the programmers, the artists and all the other elements that make up an average software house are working in perfect harmony with one another. In the mid-eighties, one such title was Rick Dangerous. In the world that is platform games. Rick has always stood out as one of the first games to inject some true thought and originality into the otherwise flaccid genre. It bred games such as Prince Of Persia and Gods and now its path of wisdom has led us to Bubba 'n' Stix, a platform game that sticks its tongue firmly down the throat of Mademoiselle Playable.
What sets it apart from most is that it isn't just platforms. In fact it's hardly platforms. It's more of a side-on maze with puzzles, traps and creatures that make the crude pressure plates of Prince and the rolling rocks of Rick seem crude by comparison. You may have gathered from the enthusiastic tone of this intro that Bubba is one of the best games of its type. Why? Because of all this...
Stix is one of the most useful puzzle-solving aides ever featured in an Amiga game. Not only can he be chucked at most meanies (as you'll see later), but he can also be used in a number of other helpful ways.
Platform games need to be pretty special these days to compete with the likes of Zool, Flashback and Superfrog. Well, Bubba 'n' Stix is as special as a specially-created Specials album, compiled by Arthur and Nora Special. The combination of such cunning puzzles and inventive uses of a sidekick (in this case a living stick) combine to form a truly entertaining game. The overall character and graphical style of the game make playing Bubba like playing a cartoon - everything is so smooth and lovely that you just want to take Bubba to your bosom and protect him from his harsh alien world. But what really makes the game are its puzzles. You would have thought that a stick would be a bit limiting in the puzzle stakes (after all, there's only so much you can do with one, isn't there?) but the game's designers have come up with a few really cunning brain teasers - although you often know exactly where to put Stix, you're never quite sure of the outcome. There is, however, one problem with Bubba 'n' Stix. With only six levels in total and no form of pre- or mid-game animation sequences you're likely to feel a little disinterested. After all, what's the point of struggling through a tortuous maze if there's no sort of reward at the end? It's a shame because the animations could have really helped with the overall style of the game, adding humour and giving the player a sense of deeper involvement (animations are like that, you see). Bubba is a truly fab game that could have done with being longer. What's there is going to keep you busy for quite a while and you're more than likely to enjoy yourself while you play. It's just that it's the computer equivalent of sex - superb while it's happening but over before you know it. Or so I'm led to believe.
A game with extremly hard levels, but with extremly cool graphics and music. You control Bubba and his friend the little stick, called Stix :) They must solve many logical tasks, but beware of the misterious enemies :) Very recommended game!
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