Stay away from this game
I am a big fan of the very first Bubsy game. It is a game that I grew up with and was excited to play as soon as I saw its announcement on Valve’s Steam service during December of 2015 – a good year for any retro gamer with other old franchises like Super 3-D Noah’s Ark (orig. 1995), Turok (orig. 1997), and Mega Man Legacy Collection (2015, with games from 1985-1994) finding their way on to the popular online store as well. I was excited to write a review on Bubsy Two-Fur, but even now I just can’t. Sadly, I was not prepared for how bad the Bubsy rerelease on PC would turn out to be. So, instead, I’ll write about why you should avoid this Steam release at all cost.
Before talking about this particular release of Bubsy, it might help to know a thing or two about this series itself.
Even though Bubsy is the poster child of a bad video game franchise, the very first game in the series, just titled Bubsy (1993), is a lot of fun. It is a jump’n’run platformer similar to Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), in which stages have multiple pathways to encourage players to experiment around. Levels are also filled to the brim with checkpoints and 1-Ups to almost nullify any punishment for failing. Even more so, Bubsy the Bobcat has an impressively large amount of Looney Tunes like fail animations, quite uncommon for a game from that era, which, in a way, even reward players for running into enemies to see how he’ll react.
Unfortunately for Bubsy, the first game was a commercial success. So much so that the developer and publisher behind it, Accolade, pushed out a bunch of, let’s call them “adventurous” games of “courageous” quality that explored the limits of human tolerance. Bubsy-2 came out a mere 12 months after the first one and looked like it cobbled assets from various other projects together to become a Frankenstein-esque monstrosity with a headache inducing soundtrack, the sequel after that, Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales (1994), was more of the same but in bland, and could only be topped off by the final nail in the coffin of the franchise: Bubsy 3D (1996).
Like many series in the 1990s, Bubsy tried to jump from the second to the third dimension, and just like many others, it failed. Presumably due to financial pressure on Accolade’s side, Bubsy 3D was rushed out with not only horrid controls, a disorienting camera, and annoying sound design, no, its levels all look like unfinished test stages. Naturally, nobody wanted to play it and so, a few months after the game’s launch, the developer-publisher had to close its gates forever. The bobcat was then almost forgotten in the realms of obscurity had it not been for the advent of gaming channels on YouTube. Bubsy 3D had finally gained notoriety among the gaming community, just not for what one would like to be known for. During the early 2010s, it was renowned to be one of the worst 3D games in existence and retroactively one of the most miserable video game franchises in Western history, which brings us to the 2015 rerelease of the first two Bubsy games.
The Steam Release Controversy
After Accolade’s disappearance, another company, Retroism, acquired the rights to the Bubsy IP. Since it was already a known franchise and because bad, old games, like Super 3-D Noah’s Ark (which became infamous after the AVGN’s Bible Games episode (2006)), had a successful launch on Steam in 2015, Retroism’s subsidiary, Tommo Inc., decided to hop on the retro train as well and hired Piko Interactive to use the SNES ROMs of Bubsy and Bubsy-2 for a Steam release titled Bubsy Two-Fur (2015).
For this project, Piko used the SNES9X emulator after they had the permission to do so by two of its developers, Gary Henderson and Jeremy Koot. Sadly, the emulator also used code by other people who refused to have their work be used commercially, which sparked a moderately big controversy after Bubsy Two-Fur‘s release on Steam. Piko Interactive naturally apologized, but, to add crisis to a disaster, the second game in this bundle, Bubsy-2, didn’t even work and constantly crashed. Gamers overall were discontent to say the least. Not only was the SNES9X emulator freeware, but if one had pirated the Bubsy games, they would have had a far superior experience over the official version that costs $4,99 USD or your local equivalent.
Both Retroism and Piko went silent after the debacle with Piko showing back up on the Bubsy radar in May 2016, five months after the game’s Steam launch and just before an updated version came out using a new emulator. (cf. Emulator Questions / Feedback, Steam Discussion Board, (2016, May 13th), http://steamcommunity.com/app/426630/discussions/0/487877107141475138/?ctp=4#c357286119106888164 retrieved April 5th, 2017) After the first update, the emulation for Bubsy-2 worked fine and both games even had Steam Overlay functionality, but now the controller support was missing. It was no use. At this point, irreparable PR damage had killed Bubsy yet again and the sales numbers looked grim.
After I had complained, a Piko representative apologized personally to me in the Steam Community hub for any inconveniences caused and the company offered to send me a Super Nintendo reproduction model as compensation for the trouble. I initially rejected the offer as that would have been too much trouble, yet they insisted. So, in May 2016, they told me to send them my contact details, which I did and they replied with an e-mail promising that they would sent me an SNES as compensation at some point in the future. (cf. Add achievments! [sic!], Steam Discussion Board, (2016 May, 17th), http://steamcommunity.com/app/426630/discussions/0/487877107137486019/?ctp=2 retrieved April 5th, 2017) This was then followed by complete silence. It is now April 2017 and at this point, I had attempted to contact them twice these past 11 months and do believe that it is unlikely for Piko Interactive to follow through on their word. They did, however, bring out a second update to the game in September 2016.
Despite being a big Bubsy fan who was initially filled with excitement for this rerelease and who hoped for new Bubsy adventures in the future, Bubsy Two-Fur has left nothing but a sour taste in my mouth. Nobody wants to play games that don’t work and nobody should. There’s a lot that could be said on this, but there’s no point to it. I don’t believe that the people behind this release put a bad product out on purpose, but the way things went was anything but nice. My only suggestion to others is to play games that are enjoyable.
Bubsy Two Fur gets a 0 rose-colored glasses out of 10 harsh realities
Thank you for reading. As always, feel free to leave a comment, the comment section is completely open and doesn’t require you to log in or register. Steam users can also feel free to follow my curation there: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/gaoscorner#curation The title card for this article was, of course, created by me. Have a nice day.