Bubsy is a bit too simplistic for its own good, especially given that it came out during the years that every game company and their dog were attempting to make mascots for big bucks…
Nintendo had Mario
Sega had Sonic
Atari had Pacman
Amiga had Zool (until selling out to multiplatforms)
Sega had failure…
Yet here Accolade thought they’d have a go, ticking off the big book of wildlife for an animal that hadn’t been copyrighted yet, but obscure enough to redefine how it could work in a platformer. Sooo….. well they made it to the B’s then.
As Bubsy the Bobcat, you can’t run and you can’t attack enemies directly head on.. instead jumping on the heads is the order of the day. You can however glide around from great heights, which sounds great in principle, but execution sadly never hits the mark, often enabling you to be hit by an enemy or find the one pit in a area of safe platforms.
Control wise, Bubsy is an unique animal, and not by skill set, more your controls feel unresponsive when you want to perform pixel perfect precision and feel very akin to driving, building up momentum and struggling to regain control if you put your foot down too much.. In this sense it’s great that Bubsy is generous with continues and extra lives – you even start with nine lives! (pun) and to be fair you’ll need every one before the days out.
Level design however on this game is superb, and quiet the opposite of what I was expecting in the usual mascot genre, and it shows that the team behind it did their research utilising a multiple path method to guide players through the levels in such a way that if still feels as if you chose the route. Unsure of how to get through a difficult trap, try going higher or lower, you may face better with a different obstacle. It’s this approach that stops the game being one I through away in frustration and keep pushing forward just to see the next level.
Sure later levels get on the lazy side, and one mascot was always going to get the brunt of the stick, and Bubsy was the cat for the job. I think the main reason for that stems from Accolaid trying to ‘do’ an Earthworm Jim and design a series of games quickly using the same formula until we get to Bubsy 3D, that clear attempt to push into the kids TV market – which failed badly even though the pilot wasn’t that bad..
Or maybe Bubsy was the ‘ET’ of the mascot bubble, that one animal that burst the investment cycle..
Either way the world is a little less fun without their Saturday morning kin..