Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu! , Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week, we’re visiting the 2D platforming mascot retirement home located in Videoland. Hey, look, it’s Mario, Sonic and, over there, it’s Bonk! Wait … who is that in the corner? Where are its pants? Is that a bobcat wearing a T-Shirt with an exclaimation point on it gnawing on yarn and mumbling to itself? Why, yes, it’s Bubsy! If you’ll recall, our supply of yarn balls has been kept safe from the alien race of the planet Rayon during the invasion of 1993 and who could forget when he saved time itself from a greedy pig in 1994, rescued the alternate reality of classic storybook tales in 1994 and was featured on the same cart as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in Europe in 1995? What’s that? You only remember his 3D game that led to him filing bankruptcy and disappearing into the annals of time (a trailer park in Blaine, Missouri)? It might be possible some of our readers have no idea who Bubsy the Bobcat is, but, thankfully, it seems most of our staff is well-versed on the subject. With a total of four games in the platforming realm, Bubsy definitely had to have some claim to fame, so why don’t we see him anymore? Is it his time to return with the sudden surge of platforming titles or should those nails stay firmly fastened into his gaming career coffin?
Mark B. – Stay Dead
So, back in the early nineties, everyone wanted to make the next big platformer, starring the next big iconic character – Mario had pretty much run the show for years until Sonic showed up, and practically every developer at the time saw how well these two performed and wanted in on that action. Anyone who’s been paying attention to gaming in general knows how that goes, because almost every genre has gone through it at one point or another. Someone makes a successful game (DOOM, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Street Fighter II, and so on) and everyone wants in using whatever way they can manage it. Well, side-scrolling platformers were no different and anyone who was playing video games back in the early nineties can probably remember a whole ton of these less-than-inspiring characters, from Aero the Acrobat to Zool to Kid Chameleon and beyond. Christ, they were going to make a game based on Bill Clinton’s cat (Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill). HIS CAT, people.
Still, most of these obvious cash-in characters are far less notorious than Bubsy, mostly because 1.) Bubsy starred in more than two games, 2.) people actually played some of these games and 3.) they were all generally not very good.
Now, on a personal level, I’d be fine with the franchise coming back because DUH, but really, no one needs to go to this well ever again. Even if someone could scrape together the money for a Bubsy 5, get a developer behind it who makes great games, and essentially hype it to the moon, it still wouldn’t be enough. The franchise is known for being horrid and a five second Google search would put almost anyone off of any potential sequel simply because the first four games were mostly trash and there’s no reason to believe the fifth would be better.
Plus, come on. It’s a bobcat in a white shirt. Who cares?
D.J. Tatsujin – Stay Dead
Heh heh, Bubsy… let’s just start with the Playstation release of Bubsy 3D, which has destroyed any shred of credibility the series may have had up to that point for anyone who is currently around 17 years old or older. The game certainly gets a bad rap and, I suppose, it’s fairly deserving, but anyone who calls it the worst game ever made really needs to spread out and play more games – in fact, in total honesty, I would probably rather play this title than Blasto!
The mix of people working on the title always struck me as very interesting – Rob Paulsen, the voice of Bubsy in the title, has an impressive list of voice work, including Raphael from the early TMNT animation, Wakko Warner from Animaniacs and video game voice work such as performing as Grey Fox in a few Metal Gear Solid iterations; producer Michael Berlyn, a former Sentinent Software and Infocom employee who was established in text adventures; and programmer Chirstopher Reese, who now has his hand in every Syphon Filter game ever made. Regardless, the finished product didn’t measure up, but I feel the game fails in areas other than what most people will point out: the graphics were not that much worse than most games that attempted 3D at the time (if you were into tech, you were actually kind of impressed that the game ran in the Playstation’s higher-resolution processing), the controls were pretty standard fare for 3D on a console as well (just maybe not as responsive) and there was an option to turn off the game’s voice clips if they really annoyed you that much (I found them more repetitive than “bad”Â and would probably blame the writing more than the acting).
But that’s not to say the game was good, as it barely served as mediocre when I was younger as there were way to many bugs and exploits with the game, which was my major gripe with the game, but given that everyone today wants to copy the Angry Video Game Nerd to attention whore on Youtube for their 15 seconds of fame, I guess exaggerating the other points is what you have to do. This kind of shows how many people are going back to the game, however, instead of living it up upon its release when it was joined by other games of its ilk such as Jersey Devil, Blasto, Croc, the Gex sequels and more – some of the titles handled some mechanical aspects better than others, but after a full 10 years of 2D gaming, the transition for the genre was less than stellar with very few standouts. In fact, I’ll admit I enjoyed the camera swing in Bubsy 3D when you jumped because it aided me in the transition of factoring depth into your jumps. If you search out the game on GameRankings.com, the title has a 55% ranking – there are hundreds of games with worse ratings, many from this generation of games and by Diehard GameFAN standards, that’s by no means all that bad. Worst gave ever made? Hardly.
That being said, however, even though I’ll defend Bubsy 3D against the torches and pitchforks, man, am I ever glad that series hasn’t taken a breath of air since 1996, and I hope it stays that way. As Mark B. has already detailed, we were blessed with Bubsy in the wake of the painfully generic mascot platforming boom launched by Sonic, where companies created any anamorphic character that hadn’t been crafted yet (Awesome Possum! Punky Skunk?), placed them in a game where they jumped on things and collected “coins/rings”Â and prayed people would buy it. This formula never changed, and as memory in carts increased and levels became painfully long, this placed the most classic of genres into a catatonic state of mediocrity. Perhaps what Bubsy gave us when it launched, though, was a character that talked constantly, where making him die and watching the unique animations was far more entertaining than holding right and gliding as much as you can in an effort to just get the level over with. The concept with Bubsy was to try and take Sonic’s attitude and crank it into overdrive, but it never really worked, even though the game featured a ton of secrets, animation and some interesting mechanics involving water and gliding. If it didn’t work a good 20 years ago, it definitely wouldn’t work now, especially with an annoying bobcat that dies in one hit wearing nothing but a T-shirt with an exclamation point on it.
Somehow, the first game was met with some level of success, unleashing Bubsy II on to the world, followed by a Jaguar-only entry and then Bubsy 3D, a string of unflattering games that hardly improved on the first (although Bubsy II tried to freshen things up with power-ups and different environmental gimmicks). I’ll point out that none of the SNES or Genesis versions of the titles have been made available on the Virtual Console and I would doubt many people are clamoring for them, so it’s clear there is no interest in this series whatsoever. As a name, Bubsy has been destroyed by the over-exaggerations about the 3D Playstation release, and in a world where platformers are making a return with innovative gimmicks, Bubsy hasn’t done anything to show it can perform anywhere beyond mediocre at best. This is a clear example of a series that just needs to accept the fact it was able to ride the wave created by other platformers for a small run of games and be grateful for it. In the “Ëœ90s surge of platformers, it was one of the few that avoided being “one and done”Â and it is hard to believe anyone would care anymore about a bobcat defending Earth’s supply of yarn from the planet Rayon… well, I guess we do have the Wii and DS these days… just keep Bubsy and his mouth out of it.
Guy Desmarais – Stay Dead
I love platformers. In fact, three games in my top five of all-time are platformers. I know the genre pretty well, so trust me when I say that Bubsy should stay dead. Not that it was the worst platformer of its time, as it was far from it. I have played games that were far more broken, with controls much stiffer and graphics much uglier. The problem with Bubsy comes from the design of the main character versus the game itself.
Bubsy was designed in the mid-90’s, back when everything had to have an attitude in order to be as cool with the young people as possible. The first game, available for Genesis and SNES, was hyped as if it was the second coming of Sonic. The problem is that all the hype in the world cannot make up for the fact that Bubsy was NOT Sonic, lacking everything from the fun to the actual attitude. Let it be known that Bubsy was actually chasing a race of aliens who had stolen his yarn ball collection. Yes, Bubsy is the owner of the world’s largest yarn ball collection, and boy does he get angry when you mess with it.
The game itself was not bad per say, and was, in fact, pretty popular. It is unknown if gamers bought the game because it was actually fun or because they expected a lot from it. However, from my own experience, all I can say is that the game suffered from a distinct lack of personality. It was just dull and boring. As a platformer, it was competent, but it wasn’t good enough to take the series and propel it to stardom. In the end, everything about it is just forgettable, unless you are a platformer junkie like myself.
I can hardly see why anyone would want to bring Bubsy back to life, unless it was as a comedy character in the next Smash Bros. game. It doesn’t have the game recognition needed to drive sales of a game, so at this point, any concept a developer might have in this genre would be better served with a better, more modern character.
Mohammad Al-Saadoon – Stay Dead
Bubsy was a shit franchise when it started with a shitty main character. Bubsy was probably designed by a bunch of businessmen in suits looking to cash in on the huge success of Sonic the Hedgehog who threw together a ripoff for the SNES and Genesis.
Several equally mediocre titles followed, and finally, the horrendous Bubsy 3D came out, which finally buried the series.
After such a big failure as Bubsy 3D there is no coming back. Let the dead rest in peace.
Chris Bowen – Stay Dead
I rest my case.
Stay Dead: 5
Spin Off: 0
Start Over: 0
And with the lineup of goose eggs in every other category, Bubsy gets unanimous venom from our staff – STAY DEAD. I suppose the only other option would be to spin off into a good game, but it seems our folk are satisfied with 13 years of not having to hear the repetitive one-liners of the pantsless bobcat. However, with the recent surge of platforming titles, you just never know. Maybe that obnoxious grin will eventually make its way onto the Wii via WiiWare or Virtual Console, but we’ll keep plenty of water around us just in case.
Perhaps this week’s feelings will flip-flop next week with a classic that kicked off in 1987. The title encourages ding-dong ditching and was brought to a number formats, but does it deserve to make a return in today’s market? We’ll find out next week!
Tags: Sequel Spin Off Start Over or Stay Dead?