Bubsy is a bit of a polarising figurehead in the gaming community. An animal mascot made to cash in on the popularity of the 2D Sidescrolling action that was popular back in the 90s thanks to the efforts of games like Sonic The Hedgehog. Bubsy the Bobcat, Aero The Acrobat, and Awesome Possum are a few of the names that spring to mind. While most of them faded away after their first few games… Bubsy was different.
One thing that people seem to mistake is that Bubsy was always awful. Not so much, his side scrolling games were pretty well received. Inoffensive at the worst, and surprisingly fun at their best. The moment Bubsy took a step into the world of 3D movement was the moment that everything ended for the ‘hip and cool’ Bobcat. A proposed animated TV show, slews of merchandise and plans to expand the Bubsy empire crumbled very quickly.
This is WTF Wednesday, and we’re taking a look at Bubsy 3D. Wish us luck.
So what is the story of Bubsy 3D? Who is Bubsy? Does it explain this at all? Not really. That’s okay, you don’t need to know much about him. He’s a bobcat that wears a T-shirt with an exclamation point on it and makes a lot of ‘jokes’ that are pretty cringeworthy attempts at making catch phrases that resonate with hip young kids. My favourite line he likes to say is “What could possibly go wrong?” What sort of catchphrase is that? What if Sonic just started saying “This situation could quickly go awry!” Just odd.
In Bubsy 3D, Bubsy has found himself lost on an alien planet called Rayon. He’s got no way back and has to find spaceship parts in an attempt to get back home. But oh no! The evil… dastardly… Woolies are in his way! Woolies just sound like a series of plush bears for kids, not exactly what you’d expect alien enemies to be called. Eh, Bubsy is called Bubsy so we’re kind of past making sense. You’ve got to fight through the Woolies and get those Spaceship parts if you ever want to see home again!
So how does the game play? Sprawling levels with loads of aliens to face and impressive visuals as you find the pieces to your ship? Well, not so much. Your main goal is to first collect atoms, which are like Wumpa Fruits from Crash Bandicoot. 100 Atoms will net you an extra life, which you’ll more than likely need the further you get into the game. If you can anyway. There are some hidden rockets you can collect as well, however, those are near impossible to get sometimes due to the level design.
Speaking of level design… there isn’t much. Every level is the same, the only change is the layout of the platforming and atom locations. So you won’t be exploring a vast alien world, nope. Apparently, the Woolies homeworld is exactly the same no matter where you go. No homes, nothing. Just a flat neon disaster with some mountains in the back… or maybe the Woolies just keep resetting everything and Bubsy will never escape the planet? We like the 2nd idea more.
What makes all these elements so frustrating exactly? Bubsy had a good side scrolling pedigree, so what is with all the hate on his 3D adventure? A big reason is the controls. Platforming is based on a sense of fluid motion, and even the ones that are made with the intention of being difficult have a specific design so that when you DO die, it feels like your fault and not the game. Bubsy is just… really bad to play as.
Instead of free form movement, Bubsy cannot move diagonally and left and right movements are rigid and awkward. So you often find yourself lining up before EVERY jump, at least you should be if you want to actually win the game. Even if you think you know of the games motion works, you’ll quickly find yourself at the mercy of the games awkward and awful jumping system. It’s a test of patience really. Not one you want in a platforming game!
It gets no better from there. Sound and music are pretty ear bleeding, and the graphics are so awful, it’s surprised anyone approved it for a retail release. The question most people tend to have with Bubsy 3D is why? Why is it so bad? What team worked on this disaster and who let it happen? A combination of factors really, the game was actually done by the guy who originally created Bubsy’s first game. He’d been absent from the series’ other two games, before being asked to come back to work on Bubsy’s 3D outing.
The only issue was his team had no real experience with making a 3D game. As well as there not being any real blueprint to follow for a good 3D platformer, as Bubsy 3D had the unfortunate fate of being developed before Super Mario 64, but released right after it. Leaving a sour taste in the mouths of those who knew what a good platformer could be when put into a 3D space, and overall the poor reception of Bubsy 3D led the death of the Bobcat.
Bubsy 3D is not a good game by any stretch of the imagination. It’s awful but serves as an example of what not to do with a 3D platformer. A bad game without half the legacy of Superman 64, but still just as awful if not worse. Since Superman 64 had a variety of levels at least. Interestingly enough, is how Bubsy isn’t dead just yet, up until a few months ago most of us assumed he’d never be back. But we ended up being wrong in that assessment!
Through one glorious exchange on Twitter, Bubsy announced his return with the help of an old friend…
So yeah… Bubsy made a pretty neat return. A new game titled Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back was announced for the world who didn’t ask for it. The good thing is that Bubsy seems to be embracing his cringe like nature, with the social media team and direction of the character being that of a more arrogant Bubsy who thinks he is the best mascot in the world. It’s a different take, but a welcome one after the 90s Bubsy.
The game actually looks quite fun, and initial impressions seem to praise it for its efforts so far. Which is good, as there isn’t much of a nostalgia goggle effect to be had with Bubsy since the series isn’t looked back on that well in the first place. With The Woolies Strike back, it’s showing a rising trend of taking established now defunct series’ and breathing some much needed new life into it. Much like Shaq-Fu which we took a look at recently.
We don’t know if we’ll see more of Bubsy after his upcoming game, but if we do… let’s leave 3D off the table.
Are you a fan of Bubsy? Did you get a copy of Bubsy 3D on release? Let us know in the comments!
If you are a fan of classic Bubsy games, you can play a bunch of them on our Android Handhelds! We’ve got a wide selection for any budget if you want to play all your classic Retro games, just click here to check out our options and start gaming today!