Genre: Platform Developer: Accolade Publisher: Accolade Players: 1 Released: 1993
Much has been said over the years about Bubsy the Bobcat. In video game history, he has constantly been made fun of because of his incredibly lame plain white shirt with an exclamation mark branded on the front. But Bubsy always tried to be cool. He wanted to be cool so bad, he came up with a whole slew of “witty” one liners to show gamers he was the top cat. He tried to mimic Sonic’s “who cares” attitude, as he waited for gamers to pick up the controller and give his game a whirl. Personally, I find the whole concept of Bubsy to be a huge rip off of Sonic, but as long as he had a decent game, could he be forgiven? Let’s just say if humans had nine lives, you would lose at least one of them playing Bubsy.
It appears that some aliens named the “woolies” have come to Earth and have stolen Bubsy’s precious yarn balls! Since Bubsy loves his yarn so much, he goes off in search of the yarn and the aliens. Ok, if the idea was to make Bubsy a cool character with an attitude, someone should have told him that most hip adventurers don’t really have a collection of yarn that they lust over. But such is the story of Bubsy. At least it’s not a cliched “save the princess” kind of tale, so the game does get some props for being a little bit creative.
Bubsy has sixteen massive stages to play through, as he tries to reach the giant yarn ball at the end of each stage. The levels are broken up into three stages each, with the third stage having a boss fight. All the while, you collect yarn balls for point. Collecting a hundred yarn balls does not give you an extra life like in nearly any other platformer. But hey, you’ll notice right away that Bubsy starts off with nine lives. Nine lives? Dang, this game is going to be sooo easy then, right?
The game is incredibly tough, and it seems like there are a million different ways for Bubsy to die. To make matters worse, he only gets one hit and then he’s dead. One measly hit from some of the most pathetic obstacles and he bites the big one. An egg taps his shoulder? Dead. He stands in water up to his ankles? Dead. An alien blows his nose on him? Dead. He falls from too high off a cliff? Dead. He runs too fast into a wall? Dead. Surely, Bubsy must have some way of defending himself? Bubsy’s moves consist of jumping on enemies, and trying to glide while he is falling. That’s it. He can find power ups like invincibility to help him run through the enemies, but not even invincibility cannot help Bubsy survive these obstacles.
To make matters worse, Bubsy is not the easiest bobcat to control. Often, it takes him a little bit to get going to a good running speed, so he’s incredibly slow and sluggish at times. You also really have to take your time searching the massive levels, as more often then not, if you just try and glide through the levels, Bubsy will either land on spikes, hit a wall, fall down a hole, fly into an egg, or some other ridiculous death sequence will occur.
Thankfully, not everything is frustrating in this game. The graphics are actually quite colorful and nice, and the stages are full of many weird and interesting enemies. The aliens themselves are these weird orange things with big noses. There are also dinosaurs, giraffes, moles, bees, and even evil hot dogs that Bubsy will have to fight on his adventure. The levels range from the standard forest type level, to western and carnival levels. And while all the different ways to die are very annoying, the developers threw in a ton of “funny” death animations for Bubsy for when he loses a life, such as crumbling to pieces or getting flattened to a pancake.
Musically, the main theme is surprisingly memorable, even after all these years. The music in the various levels are decent but nothing too special. The music goes along well with the strange atmosphere of the game, and the sound effects do too. There’s even a sound effect for when an alien blows his nose on you, if that tells you just how bizarre this game is. At the start of each level, Bubsy has some speech in the form of a (usually lame) one liner. It added to the comical feel, but having to hear them over and over again because you are constantly losing lives is torture.
Thankfully, there is a password feature, so you can start playing at any of the sixteen different levels. There is also the option to play two players, with each player taking turns. How you could ever convince another human being to play this with you, I just don’t know. Also, for the high challenge of the game, the ending is an incredible disappointment and lasts maybe thirty seconds long at best.
Bubsy’s catch phrase for the first level is “what could possible go wrong?” Well, the graphics and sound are nice enough, the levels are big and have many secrets (there are even secret bonus areas where Bubsy can collect more yarn), but the game is just too hard and cheap. Gamers looking for a challenge would do well to play Bubsy, but be prepared to curse in frustration as Bubsy loses life after life. By the end of it, Bubsy’s last catch phrase is “you’re still playing this thing?” Sure enough, I was asking myself the same thing.
Some screenshots provided courtesy of Genesis Project Online.