The 1990s were a crazy time. I mean, two of the biggest mascots were a plumber and an anthromorphic hedgehog with super speed. And gaming companies left and right were vying for their own position in mascot mecca. Some faired better than others. Remember Rocky Rodent? Chester Cheetah? Boogerman? Cool Spot? For your sake, I surely hope you don’t.
Accolade, Inc. entered the mascot gauntlet in 1993 with Bubsy, a bobcat that…uh, was full of catchphrases and snark. Starring in the awkwardly titled Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, the bouncy bobcat is on a mission to stop a race of fabric-stealing aliens called “Woolies”; they have stolen the world’s yarn ball supply, but more vital is that they stole Bubsy’s personal collection, the largest yet to be seen. Yes, we all know cats love balls of yarn. However, Bubsy is a bobcat, and I think they like to maul small animals. Just a minor difference in the end.
Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind takes place over five unique worlds, each with three levels. The Woolies and accompanying enemies change their look with each world, but otherwise the gameplay remains the same: a lot of platforming. World 1 is sort of a generic homelands, focusing on houses and water slides and underground tunnels. World 2 is an amusement park. World 3 stars a train in the Wild West setting. World 4 is something akin to national wildlife park, with trees being chopped down and gysers spouting. And naturally, World 5 takes place in outer space.
My least fond, but most strongest memories from adventuring with Bubsy are 1) that he would just not shut up and 2) that the game’s soundtrack was a bit of mess. First, let’s talk about talking. At the beginning of every level, Bubsy made an attempt at being cute or catchy. Here, check ’em all out:
- What could possibly go wrong? – Cheesewheels of Doom
- Did I mention I don’t like heights? – Forbidden Plummet
- More like a bridge too short. – A Bridge Too Fur
- Hey, whatever blows your hair back! – Fair Conditioning
- Hey, I thought I saw Elvis back there! – Night of the Bobcat
- Shouldn’t that be ‘fearless’? Uh-oh… – Our Furless Leader
- Well, it worked for Clint. – The Good, The Bad and the Woolies
- Go ahead, make my day! – A Fistful of Yarn
- My contract does not mention pain! – Dances with Woolies
- Hey, I didn’t write this stuff!!! – Beavery Careful
- Next time, I get a stunt-cat! – Rock around the Croc
- Is there a veternarian in the audience? – Claws for Alarm
- That’s it! I’m outta here! You can’t make me. – Eye of the Bobcat
- What, and give up show business? – No Time for Paws
- Somebody dial 911!!! – Lethal Woolie
- Whoah, are you still playing this thing?! – A Farewell to Woolies
Man, look at all those puns. Really, I’m not against them. As a writer, I’m bound by an unwritten law to at least admire puns. However, hearing Bubsy constantly crank out these sayings can really drive one batty. Especially since, back then, I never got past the second world (at least that I can recall), that meant hearing the first five or six sayings over and over again. Go ahead and say “What could possibly go wrong?” in a really nasily voice ten times in a row and then tell me you love life.
Now for the music. It was bubbly and erratic, and suffered greatly from changing tones on the drop of a dime. For example, Bubsy is just bouncy along, collecting yarn to some chippy tunes when all of sudden he’s fallen into a waterslide part, and the soundtrack changes dramatically to the ilk often used to represent TOTAL DOOM. The strange thing is that hopping out of the waterslide does not deter the music, and it will continue to follow Bubsy until the game believes all is well in Woolieland.
That said, I really did love platforming with Bubsy. Bouncing really high into the air in any level and then floating down to the unknown was always thrilling. In fact, it’s one of the very first things you can do in the game, using a tree’s branch at the opening screen to shoot directly into the sky. Sometimes you’d land safely on the ground; sometimes you’d drift over to a secret area full of collectible yarn balls; and sometimes you’d fall into an open slice of water to drown. Bobcats can’t swim. It’s true, just ask Animal Planet. I also loved all the hidden areas and ways to move forward, like using the interlinked cave system or simply running forward. The graphics were extremely colorful and fun, offering a variety of enemies and items to go along with each world’s setting. It taught me a good amount about judging jumps and taking chances.
Alas, finding an actual SNES copy is probably pretty hard. And after the trainwreck that was Bubsy 3D, the franchise fizzled and was forcibly forgotten by all involved. There’s not even a downloadable version available via the Nintendo Wii. To answer Bubsy’s question from the very last level of the game, no. Sadly, I’m not.
GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.