In Defense of Bubsy

The gaming scene has a lot of opinionated participants. With fans opinions reaching preposterous levels, it seems everyone has their own idea about one thing or another. However sometimes there’s something in which everyone agrees on in every way. And for some reason, the infamous Bubsy is one of them.

Yes like it or not Bubsy is somewhat notable in the history of gaming by just how terrible he is. As a character, mascot and everything in between everyone pretty much agrees that Bubsy sucks in almost every way. Well I’m here to stop this attitude once and for all, and defend this bizarre gaming hate figure. So hit the jump to find out why Bubsy, isn’t the worst thing to ever grace the 1990’s.

One of the many criticisms that people throw at Bubsy is that he’s a cheap rip off of the whole ‘extreme’ phase that every kid in the 90’s was into. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I guess the best place to start from is at the whole craze of mascot characters. I guess you can say Pac-Man was a mascot for Namco (and I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone) but for my money the character who really started off the whole craze was Mario.

In fact Sega held a meeting in which they decided to get rid of Alex Kidd and replace him with something fresh that the kids would like. We all know what happened next but, long story short, Sonic the Hedgehog was born. Now the notion that every game company had to have a mascot was implemented into every young gamers mind which meant that every company had to put together a game and call the main character their mascot. This included the mainly sports game focused company Accolade to get in on the act too. And thus Bubsy the Bobcat was born. It’s important to remember here, that technically Sonic himself is a rip off of the mascot ideal. And since everyone loves Sonic (good games or bad) it seems rather hypocritical to call Bubsy a rip off.

Now lets take a look at Bubsy’s design. There’s nothing special here. He’s just an anthropomorphic cat (animals were much easier to market to kids, then fat European plumbers). but then there’s his shirt. One with an exclamation point on it. A T shirt which, is in fact the most famous part of Bubsy. In almost every review, video or article about Bubsy mentions his hilarious T shirt. And I have to admit, it is funny. It’s a punchline to the whole ‘EXTREME’ or ‘REBEL’ attitude that every kid thought was cool in that era of gaming. It emphasises the character in how stupid it is. But really, if the T shirt didn’t have ‘attitude’ would Bubsy be remembered at all? Or maybe even favourably?

I think I can confidently say that Bubsy wasn’t many kids first game. Being a third party game most kids first games were something along the lines of Sonic or Mario. Basically anything that was marketed to death with the console. This means that nobody has nostalgia for Bubsy, and we all know what nostalgia does to us. Blinds us. It was only until the modern sense of playing retro games until Bubsy would be brought up again. And with his famous T shirt, it kept gamers laughing about what a tool of ‘EXTREME’ marketing he was. And it is funny. Seeing something so ingrained into the culture of their time is funny when looked upon later. I would accept this as a fine reason for everyone hating on Bubsy, apart from the fact that Sonic was the exact same thing.

Sonic and Bubsy are very much the same, whilst having fundamental differences. While Sonic was marketed as ‘EXTREME AND REBELLIOUS’ he didn’t really come off like that in game. or at least, we all think he was because Sega hammered that into our brains when the game was just coming out. It wouldn’t be until Sonic actually got a voice when he could actually have a personality of that persuasion. However Bubsy was not only ‘EXTREME AND WISECRACKING’ in the advertising, but in game. The actual game is full of puns, and sound bites of Bubsy saying said puns. That’s right, in the actual product Bubsy had a personality, where Sonic was more of a blank (at least until the cartoon series came about).

His game isn’t that amazingly awful either. It’s not great but it’s not horrendous or the worst game of it’s time. The main mechanic of the game is flying (an odd skill to give to a cat) which I don’t think many people realise. Gliding across the stage is far more easier than travelling on foot, and if you use it wisely I think the experiences is much more bearable. That saying, it’s still not good. The sequel however improved things. Bubsy now doesn’t die in one hit (that’s really what makes the first game bad), and it has a weird sort of stage select system. It also manages to mix things up. In short Bubsy 2 is actually a decent game.

There was one more game in the series, which was an ill fated attempt at 3D. Personally I think this game in particular is the real reason people hate Bubsy. Bubsy 3D was especially dreadful but then again, what game did make a successful 3D transition? Again, personally I don’t think a lot of early 3D games work. Super Mario 64 doesn’t really stand up and the same can be said for Sonic Adventure. But people still remember these franchises fondly, so why do people always hate on him so much?

Well the answer to that is that, yes he was a blatant marketing tool. Accolade tried to plaster him on as many consoles as possible and sadly, it failed. He even had his own cartoon in the works, but that soon failed because many kids just weren’t interested. In my opinion this is a crying shame. Yes, a shame. For all the sub-par level design of the first game there was a lot of humour in it. Bubsy would have a different dying animation every time he died (sort of like Crash Bandicoot) and the levels and bad guys would have funny designs as well (not unlike Earthwork Jim).

In conclusion, I think that people hate Bubsy because it’s easy to hate Bubsy. His games weren’t amazing, he has a hilarious attitude by today’s standards and he’s somewhat a rip off of an unoriginal idea. The only difference is because there is no nostalgia people can make fun of him, without having their childhood memories ruined. In the end Bubsy is laughable but maybe we can give him a break once in a while. It’s not like he was the only laughable mascot back then.

  • This is a ballsy move. You’ve thrown the gauntlet.
    Still, Bubsy 1 is really annoying, and I think to a certain extent, Bubsy as a character was overmarketed. He had a TV show, a game, catchphrases but never really had a fanbase, and I think that was the big issue. It’s kinda like Sony’s marketing of Sackboy where they essentially say “you know him! You love him! It’s your ‘ol pal Sackboy!” But to an even greater extreme.
    I mean, Bubsy could be worse (Awesome Possum exists), but he’s pretty bad as is. Also, his design is punch-him-in-the-face annoying.

  • Stevie Grant

    I still think that the reaction to Bubsy is more a reaction to the advertising (which was basically the same as how they advertised Sonic).

    I just think we need to cut the guy a little slack.

  • Manic Maverick

    Funny you say that there is no nostalgia, because I put days on end into Bubsy 1. The game was horrible, but I couldn’t care less at the time. XD It was a lot more creative and innovative than other games at the time, and I noticed that. To this day it’s a very memorable game, in that I have fond memories of coming home and being giddy and excited about playing Bubsy again. I’d sit back in my bean bag, snuggle up in a blanket, and get to playing. All of that makes it impossible for me to hate Bubsy. Sure, the games weren’t great in the least, but childhood memories always win in the end.

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