Guest Blog Post by Todd McDonnell @ The Top Loader
I like Bubsy. Why on Earth would I talk about Bubsy Claws Encounter of the Furred Kind (SNES)? Is it armageddon, are the Woolies invading? Yes, I said it here in an open forum. I'm not spinning any yarn here as there are no strings attached, I just hope the room doesn't clear as Bubsy bounces in from the foreground when the title screen loads up. YouTube is a wonderful thing, I've learnt so much about games and consoles that I had never heard about or knew much about before.. for example I never really knew how universally disliked Bubsy seems to be? I have a question mark lingering over my head and I can understand why Bubsy has an exclamation point printed on his shirt after hearing about all the bad things said about him in retrospect. Not that I let a review sway my decision on anything, whether it be a movie or a game. I often search YouTube to find people and their stories that I can connect with or relate too and I could never find a connection for Bubsy.. no matter how hard I looked, so maybe I'll send out an SOS as I dive into the deep end because remember bobcats can't swim and our furry friend looks like he needs some help as he throws up the white flag as he sinks to the bottom. He seems to be in trouble and these Woolies are giving me the willies, but fear not they can't do too much harm with yarn.. right? I say let them have it as you bounce right on top of them since these guy's are not going to wrap you up in wool anytime soon even though there are quantities of yarn surrounding me as these space invaders are here to grab it for themselves. Whoever has the wool, has the power and it is a race against time to save the Earths supply.
The clock is now ticking and Bubsy's tail is all Ready, Set .. GO!! I mean what could possibly go wrong? Bubsy hits the ground running as you gain some sonic type speed leaping over water in a single bounce straight onto a crate of banana peels only to regain your balance to find yourself thrown forward by the end of a boot and who says Bubsy isn't funny with all this dark humour lying around as it now fades to black when the day turns to the night of the bobcat with a bounce here and a bounce there Bubsy is truly everywhere and as he hits the sky remember don't ride the coaster of death on this cracked track for too long as this is all happening too fast and we are already past the bridge to fur and I really should mention by now that Bubsy is afraid of heights so be careful when traveling to the west by train as I would suggest he treads carefully when you suddenly stop. It's now operation Bubsy drop as he is chased by the cheese wheels of doom near the rolling rocks because we are well past the forbidden plummet as you now find yourself trekking through the woods while sailing on rafts and climbing the high trees and I still have no idea what I am doing in all these bonus stages all the while thinking out loud "Hey I thought I saw Elvis back there" until you now finally slow down to the final frontier as we say farewell to the big Woolie style mammoths in this double header as Bubsy walks like an Egyptian right into the back of a limo. Take a Break. Roll the credits. Somebody call 911 because WOW what a great time I just had ! .. where is this terrible game I keep hearing about? I don't remember jumping any sharks, admittedly out of context it all does sound a bit strange.
The biggest problem with this game? This game was hyped. Playing this game in my youth I completely rode the hype train that Accolade delivered to the station. Bubsy was hyped to be the next Super Mario, so that's what people expected; Super Mario. Why? Because he jumps? Bubsy really got thrown through the loops with critics as he was running up and over these green hills in the early zones, wait is this a sonic game ? Some people sure thought so as they quickly claimed copy cat but I don't see any copyright claims - "..that's because it's not Sonic and it wasn't supposed to be" says Mike Berlyn developer of Bubsy if you are reading Retro Gamer issue 114 page 86 like I am - but who's counting - not me I gave up after trying to keep track of all of this yarn.
It is strange that the yarn doesn't count for anything except the pointless score system, I guess our hero just doesn't need any help? He shouldn't be so fearless because.. oh ooh there are no Sonic rings for a safeguard and one hit kills aren't fun and sometimes are a little unfair as it is hard to see those gumballs fly, but after a while you get to know what's where and where's what, ..what? Doesn't matter. The fact is you have to learn the layout even though it looks a little puzzling at first, but don't worry eventually everything falls into place. Bubsy for alot of people falls flat because you know sometimes curiousty kills the cat, but you get nine lives so stop complaining. It's not like he has a stunt cat and remember his contract did not mention pain, but there's no claws for alarm as we should be really asking if there is a veterinarian in the audience?.. No, but there is a veteran and admittedly I was initially thrown up in the air even without the help of a tree branch maybe i should extend out an olive branch here instead as I too found it awkward at first to get a grip of the inertia driven controls. But as you play more you get the hang of it and you will be gliding around in no time because to quote myself when reviewing F-zero "I had a moment where the controls just clicked for me" - now that's meta - which matters - in a game with quick quips and quotes all based around metaphorically speaking, but hey whatever blows you hair back right?
I remember the day I first played Bubsy. It was Christmas morning, 1993. Australia. 4am. My eyes; wide open as I run under the tree- ripped open my presents-shook my dad.. until he woke ..slowly staggering to the game room as I found myself pushing him from the back not in anger but in excitement to please hurry up and set it up! As it was my very first Nintendo console and the very first game that I smashed into that wide open slot? .. Bubsy. Statistically speaking it was the best bet to play first as I was trying to balance out the game time ratio spent between all the games we had to play that day, because I knew once Street Fighter 2 went in - it wouldn't come out - so Bubsy was the chosen one to come out of the box first. It was an exciting time to say the least as it took me over a year to save up every cent I had to get me to that point .. including my birthday money to buy some of the games we had for that morning and even then I had to share it with my brother and his friends whenever they came over. Do you know how hard it is to save for that long at age eleven to only own half of it? Later on I would have the image of my brothers' friend borrowing Bubsy as he was shoving our copy down his pants before hoping onto his bike for the long ride home burned into my memory, had I been able to talk from my wide open mouth in disbelief I would have recommended he just take the cartridge separately, as keeping the box intact is something I always tried to do even from a young age. The flimsy SNES cardboard box never stood a chance as it naturally came back crushed and literally taped back together.
This game does have it's ups and downs, even when not riding the wooden water slide from the early levels but hey remember there is a light at the end of each tunnel you walk through as you always come out the other side. It's nice to get things out into the open and just like my Bubsy box this game sure isn't purrfect - Oh I had to do that - but unfortunately for Bubsy his story only gets worse and worse as each game released after this gave me no room for applaws - last one I swear - with the Mike Berlyn designed Bubsy3D possibly being the worst game ever made. I know that the Claws that encountered our lives for the first time wasn't for everyone and there are some legitimate criticisms to be had here that I completely agree with it's certainly not for everyone .. but that's ok, because it is for me. You may think my comments are nostalgia driven, but I would argue that at my age I wouldn't waste my time playing a game that I didn't enjoy. Is it the best game ever made? No, never said it was I just don't think it is as bad as everyone says it is. The franchise as a whole started off really well but fizzled into flames and unfortunately still gets burned today. But don't worry about Bubsy because he can get himself out of any situation in any given moment as he always has the right thing to say.
Woah are you still readin' this thing? Ok that's it I'm outta here just Be very Careful because Our Furless Leader has the Eye of the Bobcat and can take The good the Bad and the Woolies and anything else you can throw at him as he is fully loaded with a Fistfull of Yarn as this is one Lethal Woolie.
Hey, I didn't write this stuff !
Todd McDonnell @ The Top Loader
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