(First published on Gamepad Magazine, November 26th 2010)
BUBSY 3D (1996) – EIDETIC
Picture the scene: its Christmas in 1996, and I have just unpackaged the biggest present under the tree, which just so happens to be a Sony Playstation. Alongside it are two games; Crash Bandicoot and Bubsy 3D. I choose to play Crash first, seeing as I knew more about it due to the high advertisement at the time, and have a great time. Then I put Bubsy 3D in and expect a similarly excellent experience…
Never have I been so wrong about anything in my life.
I will say this now to get it out of the way: Bubsy 3D is by far, the worst game I have ever owned, and one of the worst games ever produced. To call it terrible would be giving it praise, it is just so flawed on so many levels its obscene.
The basic idea of the plot is that Bubsy (a random bobcat that has somehow got into outer space) needs to trawl through the planet Rayon, looking for parts of a spaceship that can send him back home. In his way are the Woolies that inhabit the planet, which serve as the enemies in the game. It’s a stupid plot, even for small children. In fact a small child could have probably produced a better storyline.
And somehow, the gameplay is worse than the story. Oh where do I start. I thought this game was awkward to control when I was six, and having played it again recently I simply cannot believe how bad the controls are. You can only move forwards, pushing left and right causes Bubsy to pivot on the spot, and pressing backwards forces him into the slowest moonwalk ever. You cannot move diagonally. Its frustratingly awkward, meaning that you spend most of your time backing up as you try to line up jumps. Which you then fail because of the awful jumping system where you can glide…straight to your doom.
The main point of the levels is to collect Atoms (which act like Wumpa Fruit in Crash, get 100 for an extra life) and the rockets hidden around the level (sometimes in near to impossible to get to places), and then to find the end-point. But when every level looks the same, why should you even have the motivation to care? And with such pathetic enemies like the Woolies, you really do not need the lives. They shoot what I have always assumed are bullets out of their noses and miss with amazing accuracy, and you simply jump on them to beat them (clearly using Mario for inspiration). But even this can be a chore due to the awful collision detection, it just makes you hate the game. Even more so when you realise that the same enemies are recycled over and over in the 18 levels the game has to offer. New enemies are introduced later on, but by the time you reach them you simply do not care
Added to this are two bosses thrown into level structure that give you no indication of how to win. Seriously, I couldn’t beat the first boss for four years because I did not know what to do, and in the end I only beat him by trial and error of mashing every button furiously. Why did Telstar/Accolade publish a game that clearly isn’t interesting or fun to play? No wonder they went bust so quickly.
I suppose I should mention briefly that there is a two player mode where you can battle each other in some of the levels; but please, don’t venture into it. It’s as poorly produced as the single player mode and do you really need to inflict this game upon another human being?
I can only imagine that the developers got half way through designing the levels for Bubsy, then went to lunch and forgot about it. The graphics in this game are complete and utter bollocks. Every piece of ground looks like a chessboard with not-at-all blending colours, the backgrounds are horrible jagged grey polygons, the Woolies look crap: It just looks like it is in constant debug mode. The horrible camera work doesn’t aid the experience either; when you jump it follows a top down mode meaning that you cant see where you are meant to be heading, just more of the awful backgrounds. The text in the menus look awful, the framerate jumps about consistently; there is absolutely nothing positive to say about the graphics in this game.
Sound = FOR GOD’S SAKE SHUT UP BUBSY!!!!!!! Every five seconds in this game, Bubsy (aided the terrible voice of Lani Minella – who strangely went on to do some good work as Pit in Super Smash Brothers Brawl) tries to make quips and jokes that just aren’t funny. It grows tiresome after the first level and continues in the same manner. Mercifully, YOU CAN MUTE THE VOICE in the main menu. But do this, and you are left with a soundtrack that like the graphics, has no inspiration to it. For years I thought the random scratching noise in the background was the disk in the drive, but no: its part of the soundtrack. It’s not the worst soundtrack ever in a videogame, but its pushing the limits of what can be deemed acceptable in the business, especially at a time when Crash and Mario had some excellent tunes.
Usually a game has some redeeming feature that I can pick out, but with Bubsy 3D I simply cannot do it. I can only hope that somehow this game will become so rare that people will be willing to pay something for it, then I can get rid of the damn thing.
You may have read this and thought ‘he’s just bashing the game, it’ll be fine if I play it’ – please, DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME. If our scoring system allowed a 0, then Bubsy 3D would receive it. A mess, a disaster; call it what you will, I live in hope that I will never play a game as bad as this again.