As much as the Bubsy series is terrible, it’s really, really hard to hate Bubsy 3D. This is because it is possibly one of the worst video games ever made. The 2D Bubsy games were frustrating, sloppily designed, and mostly just unfun. The 3D Bubsy game is practically unplayable. On same level, it’s actually an admirable production in the ways its predecessors weren’t – it was developed as one of the first 3D platformers on home consoles. But jeez, does it even crash and burn. Where to even begin?
Well, the graphics. The Bubsy character model is one of the best looking things in the game, and this is only because it is so incredibly malformed that you can’t even think something so bad looking was intentional. The entire landscape is composed of flat (not even shaded!) polygons, with checkerboard patterns and mishmashing color schemes that adorn the floors and mountains. One of the most hilarious things about the game is wandering through the bare-bones landscape then randomly find an object that the artists decided to texture. It’s also difficult to discern water (which will kill you) from pop-up, which is quite severe.
Bubsy 3D came out before the Dual Shock, so the entire game is controlled via the digital pad. Pressing up will move forward, pressing down will hop back. You turn left and right with the left and right buttons. There is no other camera control. Now, Bubsy 3D also came out about a month after Super Mario 64, which essentially revolutionized both 3D controls and environments. As a result, it looked and felt hideously dated, even at the time it came out. The simple act of moving Bubsy from point A to point B is a frustrating and tedious process if it involves any path other than a straight line. Trying to jump from platform to platform like this is a nightmare.
To its credit, the camera automatically aims downward, so you can judge where you land (something more early 3D platformers should’ve done, actually), and Bubsy can grab on to ledges if you just barely miss a jump. Still, you’ll spend a lot of time jumping and missing and falling and watching more hilarious death sequences. Also, you attack enemies by jumping on them (or at least trying to) or running up to the various atoms that litter the landscape (??) and tossing them at the Woolies. Since Bubsy 3D is now on CD, you can expect more awesome voiceovers. They seem to have changed the original voice into something more girly sounding, and it makes all kinds of clever remarks about platforming games (take that fourth wall!), it’s not as annoying as the stupid, repetitive remarks from the other games.
Bubsy 3D feels more like an experiment in 3D platformer design than an actual game. Maybe if it had beaten Mario 64 to market, it would’ve at least had the appearance of being revolutionary, even if it was bad. But it didn’t even get that honor, and ended up being little more than a huge joke. Interestingly enough, Eidetic – the team behind Bubsy 3D – apparently redeemed themselves and went on to create the vaguely respectable Syphon Filter games for Sony.
In keeping with the grand master scheme of Bubsy, Accolade produced a television pilot that aired on Thanksgiving in 1993. (Battletoads pulled a similar stunt in prior years.) It featured Bubsy and his niece and nephew, along with an armadillo, who all made guest appearances in Bubsy II. Naturally, it never caught on, so the single episode produced is the only one in existence. If you thought the catchphrases in the game were annoying, well…wait until you see this. There’s some plot about a virtual reality helmet, which our hero and friends get their hands on. And there’s some evil cat woman who wants to steal it for her own ends. Oddly enough, the Woolies, the bad guys of the original game, never make an appearance. In its favor, it does have plenty of respected voice actors playing the roles.