It's not that often that one can recall a release which stars a van driver as its principle character. In fact, I don't think there's ever been one up until now (if I'm wrong, it's answers on a postcard to the usual address).
Now, I've nothing against van drivers, well apart from when they're on the road that is. Slower than a car, but faster than a lorry they seem to haunt the fast lane of our road network, flly paid up members of the exclusive "we own the road club". Thankfully, Bubba 'n' Stix isn't about you driving down the M6, attempting to dodge and weave through three lanes of Transit-
Instead, what we have ladies and gentlemen is a very interesting little platform puzzler, or puzzform (maybe?) The action centres around Bubba, the van driver, who is on a job to Preston and you have to dodge through three lanes of... no, not really. Bubba is on his way to the local zoo with a lorryload of wild animals. Unfortunately, someone else is on the look out for additions to their animal manegarie.
High up in the clouds a spaceship suddenly descends and swoops down on the oblivious Bubb, kidnapping him and his live cargo. Now, the alien at the helm of the offending spaceship is the rather clumsy Glik, He is under orders from his boss to bring home to their planet various species from around the universe - just another delivery driver really; see the irony folks?
Unfortunately for Glik, he manages to lose control of his ship and sends it spiraling towards the planet below. In the ensuing crash, both Bubba and the other occupants of the spaceship are sent flying out of the back of the ship, onto the surface of the alien world.
As Bubba recovers, he is hit on the head by a stick. But, this is no ordinary stick, this is Stix. As Bubba goes to walk away, Stix follows him.
This is a pretty dumb thing to have done because for the rest of the game Stix is continually thrown, wedged and trodden on. Ah well, we'll just presume that he's a good old stick.
Anyway, whatever the context of their relationship, what we hae here is a very clever little puzzler. The first level sits your on the planet surface where you crashed, and almost serves as a tutorial for you to become familiar with the uses of Stix.
It takes the first of five or ten minutes when you're playing Bubba to become familiar with the logic behind the puzzles and the many ways you can manipulate Stix.
As well as the usual forms of punishment you'd expect to use a stick for, like beating aliens up, many of the puzzles rely on using Stix in other ways. He can be used as a snooker cue, a tightrope balance, a javelin and a platform to either jump or walk on.
Progressively the levels get tougher, not only the aliens you must fight, but in the puzzle solving and dexterity department.
Bubba 'n' Stix comprises of five levels and a number of bonus stages, and features all of the things you lucky rascals have come to expect of platformers like restart points, power-ups and score bonuses.
What's really nice about Bubba 'n' Stix is the animation. Bubba and all his adversaries are beautifully animated in a very cartoon style. In fact, there are times when the game feels more like an interactive cartoon than a computer game.
The backdrops are also really well arted and add to the whole feel of the play, which is definitely lodged in the slapstick section. For example, when Bubba encounters Glik, all plans to recapture him seem to backfire with slapstick consequences.
In just about every department, this is a winner. Bubba 'n' Stix is truly what you would describe as nice, and that's not meant in any derogatory way.