I remember playing this game as a child, and at the time I can remember enjoying it. It has been almost 20 years since Bubsy was a thing, but was it a good idea bringing him back?
Bubsy is a bobcat, that had a series of games back in the 90’s. The games are 16-bit, 2D platforming games that see you explore various weird and wonderful worlds. Now ‘Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind (1993) and Bubsy 2 (1994), have now been emulated for the PC (Steam). The game originally came out on Sega Megadrive and the Super Nintendo.
The Bubsy games are filled with puns, sarcastic one-liners and some dodgy catchphrases. The gameplay is ok, but can feel a bit all over the place. You can see it drew inspiration from the Sonic games, with moments of fast running. You can also glide, jump on enemies and fall down pits. In the original game the story was about Bubsy trying to get back the worlds yarn supply from aliens. So already the story is very unusual and pretty vague to say the least. The second game added some features, that included things like being able to select various worlds via portals. You also have a 3 hit health bar, and a variety of new enemies and weapons.
I have to say that I was disappointed with how the game stands up in modern gaming. The worlds are interesting and varied but it lacks any real depth, and Bubsy as a character feels a bit bland and uninteresting. Nostalgic gaming is certainly an obvious trend right now, with the likes of Rare Replay, platformers that have had success like Shovel Knight and even Yooka-Laylee, that’s in development.
Some games that have been brought back, or revisited in some form can have success, but unfortunately the fact is this just doesn’t play as well as other games in the same genre. The controls feel unresponsive, and I found it difficult at times moving the character through the environments. There’s often a lot happening on the screen, with orbs to collect and multiple enemies. The character and world design is decent enough, but I just didn’t find it enjoyable to play. The one thing I did like about Bubsy 2, was the ability to choose certain doorways, that transport you to different zones. I also quite enjoyed some of the mini games, like directly a falling armadillo through what looks like a truck. It was very bizarre and didn’t fit the game, but at least it mixed things up a bit.
The presentation of the game is probably what I liked most. As I said previously, I really enjoyed the ability to jump between worlds via doorways. This kept things interesting and mixes the gameplay up a bit. Bubsy as a main character is ok, and I can see why people would have enjoyed him back in the 90’s, but games have come along way and characters often these day have more depth, or more of a story to back it up. Even with games like Shovel Knight, there’s more story through the use of on-screen dialogue or short animations. The style of the game is quirky and vibrant, which I enjoyed. I also liked the electronic, upbeat soundtrack that suited the style of the game.
Overall I was a bit disappointed with the games and going back to play them was a bit of a let down. I can certainly see how at the time, it would have been a popular game, and fits in with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog. I believe the idea behind this release to build up interest for a brand new installment, which I think isn’t a bad idea, because there is something here that can be built upon. If they developed more of a solid story and tried to improve some of the gameplay mechanics, it could certainly appeal to a modern-day gamer. The two games aren’t great, but they are worth a go just to see what the game was like, plus it’s always good to support developers.
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