Confession time: I actually like the first Bubsy game despite the fact that it more or less destroyed my entire life. Where once I was an innocent child too naive to know the meaning of failure, Bubsy came along, spiked my youthful joy to the ground, and rubbed my face in constant Bubsy-centric failures until I had been reborn as a jaded, embittered shell of who I once was.
Bubsy is cheaper than a free hooker
Claws Encounters is difficult in a cheap way, and there’s no denying that. The number of ways Bubsy can die in this game is simply ridiculous. Have you ever played a game where eggs are lethal? How about a cheese wheel or jumping hot dog? Falling from high up is usually fine, but sometimes you’re just high enough that you get instantly killed, that death coming complete with a “cartoon body accordion” animation. See, all deaths come with an animation. It’s my personal theory that the studio who made this game was so proud of these animations that they designed Claws Encounters to be as cheap and unforgiving as possible in order to draw attention to them. You can die from water, gumballs, roller coasters, and a litany of other objects you wouldn’t expect, and as if this wasn’t enough, one touch is enough to kill Bubsy. This isn’t Mario where you’re able to get hit once or twice and continue on your merry way—Bubsy is more fragile than your grandmother. Perhaps they should have made a game about her, instead.
Bubsy will someday be a meme
Hilarious cheapness aside, I still like this game and believe that it’s relevant in our modern gaming culture. Why, you ask? It’s the game that our over-connected, constantly-bored collective culture deserves; were Claws Encounters released today, it would be a massive hit because it has everything the internet loves dearly. Cat? Check. Puns? Check. Rampant weirdness? Check. Bubsy was designed to be a mascot as iconic as Sonic or Mario, but the failure was simply one of timing; we hadn’t become as disconnected from reality as we are now, so we’re currently at a point where Bubsy could become an ubiquitous internet meme overnight.
It controls as well as a runaway train
The first couple of levels are fun. They really are. After that, the whole game is a train wreck. You die from absolutely everything in sight, and this is made even worse by the game’s ridiculous momentum; take a few steps in any given direction and you’ll suddenly find yourself hurtling in that direction as though you had been waiting your whole life to run in that direction. Bubsy runs with purpose, as though compelled by some dark secret, and stopping him where you want is often an impossible task.
Even if you press the opposite direction and jump, Bubsy’s momentum will still carry him in the first direction. It’s like controlling a bull in a china shop, only in this case the bull is deathly allergic to china. Maybe a better description would be that it’s like controlling a living piece of china in a bull shop. The point is that you’re an absurdly fast piece of living porcelain, and you often have to deliberately slow down in order to avoid the many things lying ahead that will instantly shatter you. Sometimes literally, as that’s one of the animations.
This game is actually about aliens
The plot of the game is that a bunch of aliens stole the world’s yarn ball supply, so Bubsy embarks on a quest to stop the aliens despite being more breakable than an iPhone. Personally, I’d have just started playing with one of the million other types of cat toys out there, but I suppose this is why I’m not a cat. Anyway, the aliens who so evilly desire yarn are called Woolies, and they’re littered around each level for Bubsy to run into and subsequently die from. They look like the arm-less children of Ann Coulter and Droopy Dog, yet Bubsy possessing two limbs that his enemies lack never manages to give him the upper hand.
The graphics in Claws Encounters are nice and bright, and the carnival stage that you get to early in the game is one of the most graphically memorable platforming stages I can recall. The later stages of the game are ugly, though, being both bland and forgettable.
The music is awful, so bright and cheery that it’s pain-inducing to listen to. However, you will remember it, if only because it burns itself on your subconscious and refuses to ever let go.
Here’s what you should do: