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BUBBA'N'STIX REVIEW - February 1994

You're not going to buy this, are you? It doesn't matter what I say about it, Sonic 3's out, the piggy bank's been smashed, and a funny puzzle game starring a character who hasn't been in any movies or cartoon series was right down at the bottom of your shopping list anyway. So what's the point? I might as well just go 'flubbawubbanubbadubba' for the next three pages. After all, I don't care - I'm not going to be here next month.

But no, on reflection, that would be unprofessional, and also a bit unfair to good old Bubba and his friend Mr Stix, so a different approach is in order. But since this IS our last issue before Sega Zone trundles off to pastures new, I'm still going to try something a bit experimental. I'm not going to give Bubba'N'Stix a mark. I'm going to just put a big question mark in the score box at the end, so if you want to find out what it's like, you're going to have to actually read the review. Scared? Tough.

See, console owners are lazy. And I've got more consoles than anybody (14 at the last count), so I know what I'm talking about. Console owners can't be bothered making the effort of learning any game that has controls more complicated than left,right, punch, which is why there are only ever about three different kinds of game released on the Mega Drive, and why the only original ideas it ever sees are conversions of computer games. Console owners, compared to computer owners, treat their machines as a much more passive form of entertainment (understandably, since you can't do anything else with them - no keyboard, y'see), so they're unused to and not at all keen on the idea of anything that makes them work just a little bit.

This is why Sonic games (and Mickey Mouse games, and Streets Of Rage games, and pretty much every game, really) are always so bloody easy and why you keep buying them in your zillions anyway. Don't write letters to magazines going 'Oh, I'm really upset, Sonic 3 cost 60 quid and I finished it in three hours', because that's the way YOU want it to be. Actually, it's not very likely because you hardly ever write letters anyway. (Do you have any idea just how few letters Sega Zone actually gets every month? Why do you think we print such bloody tedious ones?) You're lazy. (This isn't actually a criticism - I wouldn't write to a console magazine either. I mean, Yob's Mailbag, for Christ's sake). And that's why you won't buy Bubba'N'Stix.


It's a puzzle game. And it's a damn tricky puzzle game. I played it over about a week, and the number of times I was reduced to simply staring at the screen, completely clueless, was intensely depressing. You can be locked in a doorless prison cell with nothing but a steel drum and a small hole in the wall for company, and somehow you have to find a way out. Or you'll be at the foot of a sheer cliff far too high to jump up, with no apparent objects to interact with and only a couple of tiny aliens cluttering up the screen who pay no attention whatsoever to anything you try to do to them. You'll traipse backwards and forwards for ages and ages, looking for the tiniest clue as to what to do, when suddenly, after half an hour, you'll notice that the two aliens are apparently arguing with each other as you enter the screen, but they stop and act dumb as soon as you get anywhere near them.

So you go off the screen again, creep on so that they're just in view, then throw your alien mate Stix at them while they're still arguing. One of them grabs him, whacks the other one over the head, and as a lump rises on his head (with Stix still wedged on there), you can quickly run, jump up onto the now platform-like Stix and leap up the cliff. You see? You see the kind of effort we're dealing with here? If you want to see the end of Bubba'N'Stix, you're going to have to do more than sit in front of it with the joypad in your hands and your brain switched off for two hours, and that's why you won't like it.

Me? I like it a lot. It's got a lovely atmosphere, a couple of great characters, and some mind-bending puzzles. It's not perfect, though - there're only five levels, and since you only get a password when you finish one and you're not likely to give up any one session until you do, you're only likely to play the game on five separate occasions. Probably. The first level's really titchy as well, so you're only getting four decent-sized ones. And the sound's a bit nob. But otherwise it's fab, really - the mix of puzzle-solving and platform skills is just about right, and it's immensely loveable. Mind you, it's not as good as Gunstar Heroes. Did I tell you about Gunstar Heroes?

Gunstar Heroes is brilliant. It's a scrolling platform shoot-'em-up with some of the best graphical effects ever seen on the Mega Drive, with or without a Mega CD attached. It's more straightforwardly exciting than (What's all this about Gunstar Heroes? - Ed) any MD game I've ever played except the little-known cult horizontal scroller Aero Blasters, and boasts the pedigree of Treasure, the development team responsible for the fantastic Super Probotector on the SNES. It's one of the few platform blasters ever to show even a spark of imagination, and (I said, what's all this about Gunstar Heroes? - Ed) it's got the kind of glorious moments that make you remember why you got into video games in the first place.

I mean, Mick And Mack - Global Gladiators was neat, but did we really need to see it another three times (Cool Spot, Aladdin, Jungle Book and counting) with different graphics? I think not. All the way through Gunstar Heroes you come across bits where you think 'Hey, wouldn't it be great if it did such-and-such a thing?', and then three seconds later, it does! Honestly, it's brilliant. And if you look around, it's really easy to find it in any number of shops for about 25 quid - it's the bargain of the year. I can't recommend Gunstar Heroes highly enough, but if you've already got that, and you really can't be bothered with another rewrite of Sonic The Licence To Print Money, then Bubba'N'Stix is a game that really should be near the top of your 'things to get' list. But make sure you get Gunstar Heroes first.

Anyway, that's it from me. It's a sad day, but this is the last review I'll ever write for Sega Zone. We've had some good times together, a few laughs, a few tears, a few triumphs and a few scrapes, all that sort of thing. But no more. I'd like to think it's 'au revoir', but in truth it's more like 'auf wiedersehn'. And whatever language you say it in, it still means 'ciao, baby'. Bye-bye, everyone. Bye-bye. (Look, WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT GUNSTAR - oh sod it, too late. He's gone. Damn. - Ed)

VERDICT The best Mega Drive game of the last five years. Or possibly completely crap. I'm not telling you. Certainly not as good as Gunstar Heroes.




1. Club-ah

2. Pub-ah

3. Snub-ah

4. Tub-ah

5. Rub-a-dub-dub-ah

woscomms.jpg (23316 bytes)


1. Douglas Bader
Top WW2 air ace with tons of courage but no legs at all.

2. Theodore Roosevelt
'Speak softly, but carry a big stick,'
said the famous ex-US President. 'You will go far.'

3. Long John Silver
A pirate. Had a parrot on his shoulder. Lucky it wasn't a woodpecker, right kids?

4. Charlie Chaplin
Looked like Adolf Hitler and didn't say much. Doesn't sound much like a giant of comedy to me.

5. Jeff Stryker
What do you mean, 'That's not a stick'? Looks pretty woody to me. (Right, that's it. I'm selling this magazine, and everyone on it. - A Publisher)