When you think to yourself “’90s characters that need a revival,” Bubsy should be about the farthest character from your mind. In fact, if you’re luckier than me, you won’t even remember this dark chapter in gaming history. You may not even know what the hell a Bubsy is!
For many, Bubsy represented a time best forgotten. His grave lies unkempt and seemingly forgotten for good reason. It has been 23 years since we were forced to witness Bubsy with our own eyes. We’ve grown up since then, and forgot all about this poorly designed, smug git of a mascot. But alas no more. Bubsy is about to come bursting through the gates of gaming hell and remind us all of just how far we’ve come.
Therefore it’s the perfect time to take a look back at arguably one of the worst IPs in recent memory. Now we can look through the series and attempt to discern whether it had any saving points. Could the revival save Bubsy as a character? Will he finally be included alongside the likes of Mario and Sonic in the Annals of Video Game History? Probably not. Read on and discover why.
Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind
Need I go any further than the name? It takes a special kind of evil to release a pun like that in your title, even for the ’90s. Unfortunately, the game’s problems go much further than the name.
Game developers Accolade first introduced us to Bubsy in 1993. The character and game received generally positive reviews upon its release. Perhaps this was due to the aggressive marketing Accolade undertook attempting to establish Bubsy as the next Mario or Sonic. The game received rave reviews, and Bubsy was named Electronic Gaming Monthly’s “Most Hype Character.”
Looking back on the game, it’s difficult to understand how these reviews are possible. The controls are awful, the level design is unbelievably poor, and the lead character is smug and annoying. Fortunately retrospective reviewers have some sense and branded this game another unoriginal bi-product of gaming in the ’90s.
This iteration is arguably the most playable Bubsy game. It’s problems lie more in its unoriginal design and its glaringly obvious attempts to be “Parent Friendly.” The gameplay itself was bad, but for the ’90s it was entirely forgivable. So much so that when Accolade announced a sequel, people still had hope.
Just a year later we were treated to another game featuring everyone’s least favorite Bobcat. Bubsy 2 was far more polished in terms of gameplay, though that didn’t make it any better. The developers may have changed a few things for the sequel, but the reviewers remained unimpressed. Most of them felt that the game lacked originality. Looking back, it’s easy to see why.
A year didn’t really give developers a chance to iron out all the issues. Gameplay tweaks improved the overall feel of the game, but many problems went unanswered. The level design remained repetitive and poorly thought out. Worst of all, however, is the thoroughly unlikable mascot managed to get even worse. Throughout the entire game, Bubsy spits out quotes and references which were awful even when they were relevant. The developers tried far too hard to make this character memorable.
Like any plucky game developers though, Accolade refused to admit defeat. Their tenacity certainly is admirable.
Bubsy 3D is technically the fourth game in the series. The third, Bubsy In: Fractured Furry Tales, added very little to the series for better or worse. Therefore it seems pointless to include it as its own section. Trust me, it’s better this way.
Bubsy 3D should have been the final nail in the Bubsy coffin for any self-respecting developer. This is video game design at it’s very worst.
The game was released right as developers were beginning to embrace gaming in 3D. To some, this is a valid excuse for the horrendous quality of the game, but for others believe it simply emphasizes its flaws. This game came out at the same time as Crash Bandicoot and Super Mario 64. When compared to these two, it’s genuinely unfair to even call Bubsy 3D a game.
The controls of the game suffered terribly in its move to 3D. Level design remained weak, gamplay was still shoddy, and the character of Bubsy remained horrifically unlikable.
Bubsy fortunately looked like another failure; killed off by his inability to transition from 2D to 3D. Nobody really missed this smarmy little bobcat and the series seemed dead. Or so we hoped.
Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back
Yes, a new Bubsy game is on it’s way. Revivals of many of Accolade’s old IPs are currently in the works, but this particular announcement was met with confusion. Why in the world would they bring back such a hated character? Response to the decision has been mostly negative, with a few simply not caring one way or the other. Perhaps this is an intentional move to cash in on people ironically buying the game. The gameplay can’t possibly get any worse, so perhaps it will play well. The character of Bubsy, however, remains just as annoying.
Developers have taken a note from the Sonic team handbook and set up a character Twitter account for Bubsy. The problem is that Sonic worked as an online personality. The self-deprecating humor of the Sonic twitter works because he was, or is, relevant. Bubsy just is not. So the accounts annoying attempts at gaining recognition, tweeting other games companies, and making stupid jokes about peoples opinions of old Bubsy games falls flat. The account has 8000+ followers at the time of writing and just makes the character into more of a joke than he already was.
Gamers have gone as far as creating a change.org petition to stop this game from happening.
This franchise should have died long ago. After a 23 year wait, we thought we were safe. Of all of the ’90s video game franchises that we would love to see revived, this is most certainly not one of them. Give the people what they want Black Forest Games: kill this series once and for all.
What do you think about Bubsy? does he get treated too harshly? Or does he deserve all the hatred he receives? Leave a comment below and let us know whether or not you’re going to play Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back.