Forgotten Heroes Of Retro Gaming: Bubsy

Forgotten-Retro-Gaming-Heroes-BubsyHello and welcome to another foray into the world of forgotten gaming Heroes! Today we are going to be looking at Bubsy, the comical and slightly awkward Bobcat who has been missing in action since his last outing, Bubsy 3D back in 1996.

Created by Michael Berlyn and Published by Accolade, Bubsy was initially designed to be a platforming superstar to rival the likes of Mario and Sonic. Developed as an “Interactive cartoon” Bubsy was created as a larger-than-life character who would crack jokes at the player before each level. This feature was implemented as a contrast against the silent nature of Sonic and Mario, who were both mute within their own series. Unfortunately, what was intended as a clever design feature, ended up branding Bubsy as one of the most annoying characters in gaming history.

Bubsy – Claws encounters of the furred kind

Bubsy's first adventure, entitled Bubsy – Claws Encounters of the Furred kind (Get it?) was released for in 1992 for the SNES and shortly after, the Megadrive. It follows a relatively simple story of Bubsy the Bobcat and his battle against a race of Yarn-Stealing aliens, aptly named “Woolies” who have come to earth to capture the worlds supply of Yarn-Balls. As the owner of the world's largest collection of Yarn balls, Bubsy is quite rightfully pretty angry about this, so he sets out to stop them.

The Game itself plays out as a 2D side-scrolling platformer based across 16 levels. Bubsy's journey takes him through a number of locales including but not limited to a fairground, a train and an alien spaceship. Bubsy starts the game with 9 lives (Clever!) but don't think for a second that this is too many... For all of it's cutesy cartoon antics, Bubsy's first game Is notoriously brutal. Unfortunately for our hero, pretty much everything is out to get him, including Cars, Ice-Creams, Gum-ball Machines. In short, you are going to die and you are going to die a lot.

Pre-release, the hype for Bubsy was phenomenal. Voted as “Most Hype for a character of 1993” By Electronic Gaming Monthly. Unfortunately, upon release the game received moderate reviews of 72% from Nintendo power and 8/10 from Electronic Gaming Monthly. In recent years the game has come under heavier criticism as being a inadequate Sonic clone, rife with inconsistencies and flawed Game-play mechanics. Whilst trying to mimic the speed of Sonic, the developers forgot to create levels with Bubsy's High speed run in mind, because of this the game becomes a very trial and error experience with players not being given the time to react to danger.

Despite these flaws, Bubsy had performed well enough to warrant a sequel, Simply titled “Bubsy II”

Bubsy II

Released in 1994 for the Megadrive, SNES and Nintendo Gameboy and developed by an entirely new team within Accolade that excluded original designer Michael Berlyn. The Game itself plays similarly to it's predecessor as a 2D Side scroller, with a few new features including multi-player features that allow a second player to take control of one of Bubsy's relatives and the ability to pilot a WW1 Bi-plane in certain levels. Bubsy Can also collect trading cards which he can exchange for various items within the game.

This time, Bubsy is exploring a brand new historical theme park called the “Amazatorium” with his niece and nephew. Unfortunately, the park has been set up by an Evil Pig named “Oinker P.Hamm” (No, Really.) in order to extort money from tourists who are unaware that Oinker is actually stealing history in order to display it for a profit. Inside the park, Bubsy also loses his Niece and Nephew and must find them whilst putting a stop to Oinker's plans.

Unfortunately the same flaws that were present in the first title are still very much in play here, as Bubsy builds up speed at a rate of knots that will usually throw him face-first into danger. There is a new Hub-based level system, but unfortunately this doesn't help the confusing layouts within. This can often leave the player bewildered with very little sense of where they are going next or even why they're even going there.

The Game itself was reviewed as “Mediocre” and was criticised for it's poor handling of the character by the new development team. Although some improvements had been made, the game failed to capture the flawed charm of the original and almost put an end to the franchise there and then.

Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales

Released exclusively for the Atari Jaguar in December 1994, developed by Imagitec Design and published by Atari under license from Accolade. Bubsy in Fractured Furry tales followed the same formula as the two previous games,although this time with a heavier emphasis on puzzles within the levels.

The story here is simple as ever. Bubsy is tasked with visiting various fairytale realms such as Alice in Wonderland and Jack & the Beanstalk in order to fix the Fairy-tales and protect children from them. The additional features from Bubsy II such as the Item System and Flying sections had been dropped and the game was criticised for it's poor controls and high level of difficulty.

Although many reviewers were intrigued by the underlying fairytale theme of the title, agreeing that it gelled well with Bubsy's design and character, the game did not review particularly well. Reviewers felt that Furry Fractured Tales was a sideways step for the series that offered up little in the ways of originality.

Bubsy 3D

Bubsy's fourth and final adventure is also known as his most infamous. Developed by Eidetic and published by Accolade for the Sony Playstation in 1997. The game is widely regarded as one of the “Worst games of all time” and has been compared on numerous occasions to a simple beta build.

After the release of Bubsy II, Original creator Michael Berlyn and his team set to work on developing Bubsy 3D. Initially developed for the Sega 32X Add-on and cited for a 1995 release, Accolade pulled out of the release at the last minute due to Poor performance from the 32X. A Sega Saturn port was also planned for 1997 using what was left of the original 32X build, but this was later cancelled after Bubsy 3D was universally panned on the Playstation.

Story-wise, the game is a direct sequel to Bubsy's first game, “Claws encounters of the furred kind”.
Bubsy travels to the home planet of his adversary's, the Woolies, in order to defeat their two queens, Poly and Esther before escaping the planet by collecting rocket parts. The game is a 3D platformer based over 18 levels. Bubsy is able to jump, glide and swim in certain levels and has a health system of three paw markers known as “Paw Points.”
Technically speaking, the game is a train-wreck riddled with graphical and game-play glitches that some gamers have said renders the game unplayable. This Combined with Bubsy's new obnoxious personality and his incessant need to spew unoriginal one-liners was enough to secure his place in the Gaming Graveyard.

“What could possibly go wrong?”

It has been 17 years since Bubsy 3D and thanks to it's reputation many gamers are pleased to see the back of him. Accolade are also long gone having been acquired by Infogrames in 1999. With these things in mind it is unlikely that Bubsy will ever make a return. Despite this, his early adventures are well remembered by gamers everywhere as a quirky and somewhat flawed slice of gaming history.

Bubsy 3D aside, How would you feel about a Bubsy comeback? Leave your comments in the box below!

Get the Series!

Find Bubsy: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind on eBay

Find Bubsy II on eBay

Find Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales on eBay

Find Bubsy 3D on eBay

Last Updated ( 21 January 2014 )  

Stevie Migan

I'm a Sega fan, RetroCollector & Writer with 20+ years of Gaming experience under my belt. Sonic the Hedgehog is a huge part of my life. Almost to the point where I think Sega should actually start sponsoring me... The way to my heart is through Vanilla Coke, Cake & Survival Horror.

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(Link to this comment) SpeedStef80 2014-02-24 09:42
I remember reading about the first Bubsy in game magazines when it came out back in the early '90s. Needless to say, as a kid, I was looking forward to this crazily hyped game. In their Previews, the game magazines actually had quite good things to say about it - the graphics, the speed... but what made me buy this game was the fact that if waiting long enough while standing still, Bubsy would look directly into your eyes (and probably your soul!!!) and knock on the television screen, to see if you were still there...

Let's not forget all the animations when losing one of the cat's 9 lives that in some cases where quite funny (am I being macabre, here?).

In any case, the original Bubsy still holds a nostalgic place in my collection and I remember playing through the game - using Action Replay - of course!! I wouldn't mind seeing what the cat is up to today... might be quite fun playing on a next gen console...

Thanks for the flashback!

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