Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind Review
Woodyman takes a look at the widely hate first Bubsy video game. What could possibly go wrong?
Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind Review
Woodyman here and thanks to the SGC Kickstarter succeeding, I’m doing 12 reviews or lists picked by the g1s. Today I’ll be reviewing a game that brought me to the brink of insanity… Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind. For this review I’ll be playing the SEGA Genesis version. A review suggested by g1 Hero of Lime.
Bubsy is considered by many to be one of the many Sonic the Hedgehog rip-offs of the 16-bit era. This is quite warranted because series creator, Michael Berlyn played Sonic the Hedgehog, 14 hours a week until he found inspiration. Is Bubsy a rip-off? Kinda… but does that make the game bad? Let’s find out.
As the title would suggest, you play as Bubsy the Bobcat and you’re fighting off an alien invasion. The game title is an obvious homage to the science fiction classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. The plot revolves around a group of aliens called “Woolies”. These Woolies invade Bubsy’s home planet with an evil plan to steal all the yarn balls they can… I’m not kidding. I know video games have ridiculous plots but yarn stealing aliens? REALLY? Alright, if I can accept a plumber getting a princess then I guess I can accept anything. Bubsy wants to save his planet and stop the Woolies because he has the largest collection of yarn balls in the world.
There are many faults to Bubsy, as I will get to later. However, you cannot fault the presentation. Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind is appealing to the eyes and the ears. The game is bright and colorful, and I played the Genesis version but the music was still catchy.
Despite all this there are a few issues in presentation that irk me. Bubsy contains 6 worlds with 3 levels per world except for the last one which has only one level. These worlds include a forest/grass area, a carnival, a western train/valley, then another forest with a river, then another forest with tall trees. It seems as if they ran outta creativity and just said, fuck it we will do another forest level.
My second issue is with Bubsy’s voice. Before each level Bubsy will shout a catchphrase at you, and every time you die (which will be often) Bubsy will say that CATchphrase over and over. They begin somewhat funny but when you keep dying these catchphrases sound like taunts. Some of them are puns, others are poor attempts at humor while breaking the fourth wall. The most well-known is before the first level Bubsy says “What could possibly go wrong?” it’s foreshadowing into the hellish future. My favorite is before the last level Bubsy says “Whoa, are you still playing this thing?” Even Bubsy has no confidence in his game.
Finally, I’ll say I REALLY enjoy a lot of the music in this game. It sounds kinda jazzy and is hit and miss, (The carnival theme kinda sucked). I decided to post a few down below, take a listen. Also doesn’t the theme for the first world sound like “Rock Around the Clock”?
This is the theme for the last level and it’s AWESOME.
Last level, I wish there was more of this and less forests.
This is where Bubsy fails for many people.
Personally, I don’t think Bubsy is a “bad” game… there are bad aspects to it definitely, but my problem is that it’s a contradictory game. So let’s continue this review by dividing Gameplay into three segments… the good, the bad, and the contradictory.
Bubsy in theory is a good game……. IN THEORY. Just like other 16-bit platformers of the time you play as a furry mammal, you bounce on things head, and collect things. Even the boss fights are pretty fun. If you look above you’ll see Bubsy fighting two space ships with giant yarn balls as wrecking balls. You have to bounce on ships while the windows are open. Also when you die, enemies that you’ve already killed don’t respawn. It’s a small touch but it’s nice and necessary. Not too bad right? Well…
There are a few flaws with Bubsy, that just make no sense… these are the bad.
The first and most heinous issue of Bubsy is that 1 hit kills you. Sure you start off with 9 lives (like a cat… get it?) but that doesn’t really matter because you will die a lot. Enemies are placed so that it will be very difficult to platform around them and even if you do some enemies fly from seemingly nowhere or throw object that the game doesn’t give you enough time to dodge. That’s not all! Bubsy runs too fast into an hazard he dies, Bubsy goes in deep water he dies, but that’s not all! Bubsy has two ability, he can jump and he can glide. Now prepare to glide A LOT! Why? Because Bubsy has fall damage… That’s right, in Bubsy if you fall from too high without gliding, you’re dead.
My other big gripe is that the game feels glitchy. I’ve often died when it looks like ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has hit me or I died in midair but can’t see what killed me because the screen didn’t catch up. The hitboxes are just off. Either I’ll die when something is close but not actually touching Bubsy, I’ll die from a perfect jump, or enemies that definitely should have killed me, just don’t. In Bubsy I’ve walked on insta-death spikes that didn’t kill me, and trampolines that didn’t bounce me up.
The worst has to be one aspect of the physics. Throughout all of my playthrough of Bubsy I felt like an invisible hand was pushing Bubsy backward. The momentum seemed off. I jump straight, I go back. I jump forward, I go back. This cause me to rock the d-pad back and forth to try and time jumps perfectly.
Well after all that, I bet you think Bubsy is a bad game and you’d be right… kinda. It’s a confused game. The best way I can describe Bubsy is that it’s a game that wants to be a speed platformer like Rayman Origins or Sonic the Hedgehog. Instead, it should be a slow platformer.
Lemme try to explain myself here. Bubsy is a game in which you need to go slow and plan out your moves. This is obvious from the tricky enemy placement, the gliding controls, and the one-hit death. The game even emphasizes this further by giving Bubsy the ability to glance ahead in any direction. You can look and see what’s ahead, behind, above, or below you… and if you don’t want to die you better use this ability. They even emphasize this ability in the demo of the game if you don’t click start on the menu screen. You have to be meticulous. This is further proven by the one hit deaths. There are a few powerups in Bubsy like shadow, invincible, invisible, extra lives, but NOTHING that’ll give you an extra hit. These are all aspects of a slow platformer… but then the game tries to be speedy. Bubsy can run very fast, he can glide across much of the level, and he takes little to no time to get up to max speed. There is a time limit, and the levels are long and tedious so you wanna get through them fast. The game wants you to move fast, but if you move fast you’ll die. You’ll run into an enemy and die, you’ll run into a banana crate and slip into spikes and die, you’ll run into a wall and see birdies flying around your head… You can go fast in Bubsy, the game even encourages it at time… but if you do, you die.
Compare this to speed platformers like Sonic or Rayman. In Sonic you’re encouraged to go fast but if you screw up or hit something you’ll be fine as long as you have 1 ring. In Rayman the enemies are placed to encourage speed running. You can jump and hop from one to the other with ease. Yet Bubsy, just wants to be a speedy platformer, but is built like a slow platformer.
Bubsy is a bad game, but most of that has to do with the identity crisis that the game is having. If it allowed multiple hits, or if Bubsy was slowed down and the levels were shortened, then Bubsy would be a good game. However as it stands now Bubsy is a mediocre/poor game. It’s playable, but the bugs and difficulty are just too much to overlook.
If I hafta give the game a rating (with 5 being average) it’d be…
Well that’s the end of my review g1s.
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