10/16 – Bubsy

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Back in the 90’s, everyone was fighting tooth and nail to make the next big mascot character. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonic the Hedgehog, Earthworm Jim, these were all cross-medium staples that made big money for their creators. Inevitably though, some mascots just wouldn’t catch on. One such character that has gained a resurgence in popularity recently thanks to memes, joke videos and even meta fangames, is Bubsy. Today’s game is Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, developed by Accolade and released in 1993 for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo.

Bubsy is a side-scrolling platformer game featuring the titular Bubsy the Bobcat, as he defends the Earth’s yarn balls from alien invaders. Bubsy can defeat the Woolies by jumping on their heads. This along with Bubsy’s quick running speed has made most people compare the game to Sonic the Hedgehog although Bubsy dies in one hit, unlike Sonic who can protect himself with rings and shields. Bubsy has 16 levels across six different environments.

Bubsy was highly anticipated before release. The visuals made the game resemble Sonic the Hedgehog with Bubsy’s fast movement and multiple paths through each level. The colorful environments and snappy witticisms of Bubsy were also charming in trailers. The full game presented a very different story, however. While Bubsy still received positive reviews upon release, they were much more tepid than expected. The game design rarely lined up with the fast movement speeds, making the game feel very stop-and-go as players had to be very careful moving forward lest they run into a Woolie hiding just off screen. Bubsy’s constant quips were charming in trailers but over several hours, they became tedious and obnoxious. 

As time went on, Bubsy’s retrospective reviews became more and more negative. The poorly received sequels and leaked cartoon pilot contributed heavily towards Bubsy’s memefication. Today, multiple developers have tried taking advantage of Bubsy’s meme status but neither has been particularly successful. Still, while it may not be in the way the original developers intended, Bubsy has remained in the gaming consciousness for over 25 years now and that, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.

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