Reviews: Bubsy

I can see why this pilot wasn't picked up

I'm probably one of the few fans of the first two Bubsy video games. I really liked the first one, and I even asked for a Nerf Ballzooka for Christmas, a toy which was promoted in the second game and useable as a weapon. They were fun little platformers with expressive animation, but I'm not here to review the games.

I suspect Accolade felt they had a potential franchise on their hands and wanted to expand on that. I can't say that I blame them, but I don't think Bubsy was the kind of thing that would have worked well in animation. It's not just that the cartoon that was ultimately made was bad, but that there was so little to work with in the first place.

In the games, Bubsy was a simple wise-cracking Totally Radical stereotype who just ran really fast and demonstrated the Super NES and Sega Genesis's sound capabilities when it came to recorded voice. Arnold the Armadillo existed solely to appear in bonus levels that involved trying to escape the inside of a truck's ventilation system. He wasn't fleshed out in any way, and appeared nowhere else in the game. The enemies were all just random whatevers, with only the first game having "real" villains, in the form of alien dogs that came to Earth to steal yarn. Bubsy's niece and nephew were portrayed in the instruction manual's comic as being mischievous troublemakers.

So how does this translate into a cartoon? Well, the formula is simple: Flanderize the characters, and throw in lots of randomness. Somehow, they changed Bubsy from a wisecracker with no personality, into a wisecracking jerk. His niece and nephew are now huge brats, and most offensive of all is Arnold the Armadillo. He has a paranoid fear of trucks (understandable considering his role in Bubsy 2), and is the butt of numerous jokes involving trucks coming to run him over, including watching a news report about how armadillos frequently die from trucks. That's not just morbid, but stupidly excessive.

It's really just a bunch of characters with simplistic traits who do random things. It's not funny, it's not entertaining, and there's no real story to follow. It's not hard to see why the Bubsy franchise didn't expand. Companies need to realize that if you want something to succeed, you actually have to put effort into it.