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Video Game / Bubsy

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What could paws-sibly go wrong?

Welcome to The '90s. After the success of a certain blue hedgehog, a bevy of other game developers immediately took notice, and soon every publisher seemed to have their own Mascot with Attitude starring in their own Platform Game. And Accolade was no different. Enter Bubsy the Bobcat, a pun-slinging feline with the ability to glide by holding out his arms like an airplane and who constantly finds himself combating an alien race with a serious love for stealing yarn.

The series began in 1993 with Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, originally released for the SNES and Sega Genesis, and later rereleased for PC. This was quickly followed by Bubsy II (for SNES, Genesis, even the Game Boy) and Bubsy in: Fractured Furry Tales (for Atari Jaguar) the following year. While the 2D games received mixed reviews from critics, they sold well. Accolade even attempted branching the franchise out into an animated series. But these days, most gamers probably know Bubsy best not for these earlier outings, but for the entry that made it the poster child for the Polygon Ceiling trope: 1996's Bubsy is 3D in Furbitten Planet for the PlayStation.


Releasing just two months after Super Mario 64 showcased how to handle the Video Game 3D Leap and Crash Bandicoot demonstrated how to tackle 3D platforming on the PlayStation, Bubsy 3D was a commercial failure and is now seen as one of the worst games of the fifth generation. Accolade would abandon the studio that developed it (don't worry, they bounced back) and permanently shelve the property, ending the tail of Bubsy after three short years.

Except not really. A 2015 Steam Greenlight campaign resulted in a brief resurgence by way of a compilation of the first two entries, entitled Bubsy Two-Fur. The franchise then came back in earnest via Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, a 2½D sidescroller entry in the series developed by Black Forest Games that released on October 31st, 2017 for PlayStation 4 and PC.note  On May 16th, 2019, a running platformer from BIT.TRIP developer Choice Provisions entitled Bubsy: Paws on Fire released for PS4, PC, and the Nintendo Switch. Playing similar to the company's BIT.TRIP titles, this entry features many playable characters besides Bubsy himself, including a Woolie in a flying saucer, as well as Virgil the Vole and Arnold the Armadillo from the failed TV pilot.


Bubsy tropes:

  • Accordion Man: This would happen to Bubsy in the first game if he fell from a high distance without gliding.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Hansel and Gretel in Fractured Furry Tales. Sure there are a few versions that make them seem a little more... questionable, but this is one of the very few that makes them outright villains. As opposed to the original story, where they only killed the wicked witch after she tried to kill them first, here they apparently kidnapped the witch and locked her in a cage for no reason, and they try to kill Bubsy too when he shows up... by throwing apples at him. Also, it turns out the witch is actually Mother Goose.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: The Woolies, especially Professor Nylon.
  • Alliterative Name: In Bubsy 3D, the level "Catatomic Catastrophe".
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Given 3D's infamous reputation and near-unplayability, many thought PSExtreme Magazine was a made-up magazine, and that the lavish praise and "Gold X Award" on the game's cover was fake. It wasn't.
  • Amusing Injuries: Bubsy gets these more often than not.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Bubsy is a type of cat, and therefore instantly drowns if he touches water.
  • Animated Actors: Bubsy is an animated actor in a cartoon world starring in his own games that are also movies. Movie-like game titles allude to Bubsy being not only a character in the game, but also starring in the game as an actor. The titles of stages are often parodies of epic movies, with different stages representing different movie genres. Bubsy has even threatened to walk off the set multiple times. In the intro to "Rock around the Croc", Bubsy says, "Next time, I get a stunt cat." In the intro to "No Time to Paws", Bubsy says, "Oh, I can give up show business?" In the ending to the first game, Bubsy leaves the set, and drives off in a limo.
  • Aside Glance: In the title screen of Bubsy II, Bubsy is facing his back towards the audience, but then turns his head to look directly at the player, does something with his hand, and rolls his eyes and gives a thumbs up, wiggles, and says "I like it" before looking back at what he was looking at.
  • A Winner Is You:
    • Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind has a particularly infuriating one: "I win! I win! Well... I guess you helped out a bit too." A small celebratory cutscene does occur afterwards however.
    • The Woolies Strike Back ends with a 5-second shot of Bubsy escaping from the exploding Woolie spaceship with his beloved yarn ball, and then goes to the credits.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Woolies win if you don't collect everything in Bubsy 3D. If you do, they still win anyway. You're destined to lose from the word "go".
  • Band Land: Musicland in Bubsy II.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: In Bubsy 3D, even though you defeat Poly and Esther, the story has them defeat Bubsy and capture him. At least, that's how the Woolies see it.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Woolie queens, Poly and Esther, in Claws Encounters, Bubsy 3D, and The Woolies Strike Back.
    • Oinker P. Hamm in Bubsy II and Paws on Fire.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: If you didn't press any buttons, Bubsy would eventually knock on the TV screen and yell at you.
    • In Bubsy 3D, he starts messing with your TV settings.
    • Get to the final level of the first game, and Bubsy says, "Woah, are you still playing this thing?"
  • Buffoonish Tom Cat: The titular protagonist Bubsy himself is a bobcat, being an mixture of an comical klutz in the 3D game's death animations and cutscenes, an Insufferable Imbecile in the cartoon series and was a clownish Butt-Monkey in the 2D games showing his buffoonery when being prone to slapstick in the series, when the series continued on, Bubsy was still shown to have a giant lack of common sense with so much sass and his behavior overall, just enough for Bubsy to be presented as an Idiot Hero.
  • Butt-Monkey: Most of Bubsy's lines in the first two games imply he's a struggling actor who can't catch a break. Given what happened to his series, it's oddly prescient.
    • In the second game, his sidekick Arnold the Armadillo took this role.
    • In Bubsy 3D, the end-of-level animations have Bubsy getting hurt in some way.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Bubsy 3D ended with him stranded in prehistoric times, which The Woolies Strike Back ignores.
  • Canon Immigrant: Supporting characters of the Bubsy cartoon appear in Bubsy II. Bubsy's niece and nephew are playable via the game's co-op mode, while Arnold the Armadillo is playable in a bonus stage. They also cameo in the title screen and ending.
  • Catchphrase: "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?."
    • Also the name of the pilot episode itself.
    • Since the release of Bubsy 3D, the most common answer to that is "This."
    • It seems the team responsible for the old sequels and TV pilot were trying to make one out of Bubsy claiming he would "humble" his adversaries. Obviously it didn't take off.
  • Cats Are Snarky: In the first game especially, Bubsy thrives on supplying dried wit throughout the game.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: You start with nine lives in the first game. You will lose them fast if you don't know what you're doing, and sometimes even if you do.
  • Circling Birdies: This happens if Bubsy hits a wall after running into it too fast. (This is one of the very few injuries you can inflict on Bubsy that is not fatal to him.)
  • Combat Tentacles: The first boss in The Woolies Strike Back can use its tentacles to attack by spinning it like a drill and dive into Bubsy.
  • Covers Always Lie: The North American release of Bubsy 3D featured a positive critic quote on the front cover from EGM. In reality, the quote came from a preview in Electronic Gaming Monthly - their review of the actual game when it came out was a 3.25 out of 10.
    • Averted with the European/Australian covers, however; not only does it lack these, or any review blurbs, but the back of the case doesn't even have descriptive text to try and sell people on the game, only having screenshots to show for it.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: The Infamous Bubsy The Bobcat who is an pun fueled character with an ungodly annoying, grating voice (plus some characters like his nephews).
  • Cute Little Fangs: Bubsy, his nephew Terry, and his niece Terri all have them.
  • Deadly Lunge: Bubsy now has a pounce move in The Woolies Strike Back, which he can use to cross long distances, break walls and attack enemies.
  • Difficulty Spike: Every third chapter in the first game threw every obstacle at you that it could, and doesn't ease up.
  • Downer Ending: In Bubsy 3D, both endings involve Bubsy stranded, lost in space if you failed to collect everything and lost in time if you did. Either way the Woolies continue their campaign.
  • Every 100,000 points: In Bubsy 3D for an extra life. Also, every 40,000 in the same game for an extra "paw point" (health point). This was one of the few ways to get extra health in that game, as there were no healing items to speak of. (The other ways were to shoot five atoms with one shot, and sometimes a question mark symbol in a walking clam might grant an extra paw point.)
  • Expressive Health Bar: In Bubsy 2. You get 3 HP, and Bubsy's expression next to the lives counter changes to show how many HP you have left: a cocky smirk at full health, a nervous grin at 2 HP left, and an Oh, Crap! face at 1 HP left. (If you die by running out of health, it stays on the Oh, Crap! face as your death animation plays.) Averted in the original game, where you were a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and in Bubsy 3D, which simply showed a numerical counter next to a paw print (so-called "paw points").
  • Fake Difficulty: Discussed in this JonTron. For those who don't feel like watching, in the first two games, your field of vision is very limited, making it hard to tell where you should go and what's just offscreen trying to kill you. JonTron also notes the inconsistency of Bubsy playing like Sonic but the level design being more akin to Mario games, with an emphasis on precision platforming despite Bubsy's very loose controls.
    • Some Call Me Johnny also delved into other problems: Level design not built around Bubsy's abilities, platforming sections that are hard due to Bubsy's obscene speed not matching the platforming, frailty combined with the above problems leading to the multiple deaths, sprite sizes being too huge causing said accidents to happen, and inconsistent ideals about how to play the game. It's hard to be slow and methodical with a character as fast as Sonic. Likewise, he couldn't (and he tried) play it safe with level design created with the intent of murdering the bobcat.
  • Falling Damage: The first two games have falling damage, which can be neutralized by gliding. This is absent in his 3D title and future titles.
  • Fan Sequel: Arcane Kids' Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits The James Turrell Retrospective is a surrealist send-up of one, but it does star the long-lost cat, and uses him as a vehicle for some seriously high-minded parody.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Bubsy regularly stares at and makes comments to the player, and is aware of being in a game and on a movie set.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The premise of Fractured Furry Tales is that Bubsy goes around "humbling" the bad guys from storybooks like Jack and the Beanstalk and Alice in Wonderland.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The plot of Bubsy 2 revolves around the WOMPUM — the World Origination and Matter Projection Unification Machine.
  • Goomba Springboard: A very useful tactic to rank up a ton of points and clear large gaps (and the whole stage if you're so inclined).
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: In Bubsy II, Bubsy falls to his death by standing in midair, staring at the audience, looking down, back at the audience, opening an umbrella, and falling. In Bubsy 3D, Bubsy stops in midair, stares at the audience, waves goodbye, and then falls.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Bubsy wears a white shirt with a red exclamation mark. Bubsy's nephew Terry wears a red shirt and no pants.
  • Have a Nice Death: Death animations are situational and attempt to evoke the cartoony style of Looney Tunes. In Bubsy 3D, this is taken further, with an animation for falling into bottomless pits, and cutscenes for falling into water and green goop. And more.
  • Heal Thyself: In Bubsy 2, a band-aid could restore one hit.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Bubsy spews these a lot, though he's adamant that he didn't write them and not to mention that they are incredibly lame puns.
  • Idle Animation: Bubsy will smirk at the screen, tap his foot, and eventually knock on the TV. In Bubsy 3D, he messes with your television settings and more.
  • I'm Melting!: One of Bubsy's death animations is melting into a puddle.
  • Idiot Hero: Bubsy himself (See Buffoonish Tom Cat Above), this is due to how much of an Buffoonish Tomcat and an Insufferable Imbecile he is whom loves making countless Cat puns and attempts looking cool but evidently fails, this is also shown by how Bubsy is presented characteristically, parodied and more.
  • Is There a Doctor in the House?: In the intro for "Claws for Alarm", Bubsy says, "Is there a veterinarian in the audience!?" In Bubsy II, one of Bubsy's death quotes is "Is there a doctor in the house?" The trailer for The Woolies Strike Back goes with "Is there a veterinarian in the house?".
  • Kaizo Trap: It is possible to die at the end of a level by touching the giant ball and then taking fall damage.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Woolies becoming this as of The Woolies Strike Back. After being victorious in Bubsy 3D, Bubsy destroys their fleet and ruins their galactic conquest.
  • The Klutz: Being more evident in his 3D title's cutscenes and fmvs, even if he is occasionally graceful in some clips at the very least.
  • Large Ham: The narrator in Super Bubsy. Also Bubsy himself.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: One of Bubsy's death animations in 3D.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Bubsy has a death animation for every kind of obstacle, sometimes multiple ones. Most of them are Bubsy smiling, then falling down, but the rest can be rather funny. It's probably the main reason why most players didn't throw their controllers through the television.
  • Mascot with Attitude: Bubsy was one of many, and is also one of the most infamous.
  • Medium Awareness: In Bubsy 3D, "Now, what would a platform game be without platforms? Hmm, I wonder if there's any extra lives up there," and "Oh look, an arrow, aren't these game designers wonderful?"
  • Mickey Mousing: The soundtrack to Bubsy 2, which was actually pretty ahead of its time. The music would speed up or slow down depending on Bubsy's movement, and would frequently switch melodies depending on where you were in the level. The music instrumentation even got sparser if you were standing still for a long time.
  • Multiple Endings: In Bubsy 3D. If you beat the game without collecting everything, Bubsy's rocket ship doesn't have enough power to make it to Earth, and he ends up stranded in space. This allows the victorious Woolies to continue their galactic conquest. If you do find everything, Bubsy's rocket ship has too much power, and he accidentally puts himself in Pre-Historic times. This allows the victorious Woolies to continue their galactic conquest.
  • Multiple Head Case: There are two different two-headed Woolies, Queens Poly and Esther and the General, though interestingly their respective cases of polycephaly seem to be quite different. Poly and Esther are almost always treated as if they're two different individuals who happen to share the same body, making them more like Conjoined Twins, while the Woolie General's heads always speak in unison and he always refers to himself in singular pronouns, implying that his two heads share the same brain.
  • Narrator: Super Bubsy added one to explain the story and introduce the levels. Bubsy's chatter was kept.
  • No Indoor Voice: In Bubsy 3D Bubsy screeches virtually every single one of his lines.
  • No Name Given: Despite being the penultimate boss of Bubsy 3D and the most prominent character in the intro and endings, the Woolie General has no official name.
  • Not in My Contract: "My contract does not mention pain!"
  • Obvious Beta: Bubsy 3D was given such a rushed development cycle, that it only got a finished alpha done that was shoved out the door in order to play catch up to Super Mario 64. The result was a clunky-to-play, sloppy-looking, and all-around embarrassing rush job that killed the franchise dead.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The first game only. The sequels gave him an idiosyncratic health meter. This is taken to ridiculous levels in one stage, where he'll die by jumping onto a platform that's covered by an inch of water.
  • Overly Long Gag: Professor Nylon attempting to explain Bubsy's escape without getting interrupted by the crowd, which takes nearly a full minute of the two and a half minute-long ending cutscene.
  • Oxygen Meter: Some levels in Bubsy 3D took place underwater and gave Bubsy a diving helmet. You got 180 seconds of air to start the level, and could pick up air tanks for an additional 100 seconds of air, up to a maximum of 999 seconds. In addition, the air tanks respawned after 30 seconds.
  • Polygon Ceiling: The 2D games were made competently enough, but having to work with an extra dimension made Bubsy 3D a clear Obvious Beta. Almost every texture was a solid color, the levels were lifeless, Bubsy moved like a heavy tank with choppy animations, and the game was generally a chore to play for the most part.
  • Product Placement: In Bubsy II, you have the ability to buy Nerf Bazookas and shoot Nerf Balls at enemies.
  • Pun-Based Title:
  • Pungeon Master: In the intro to "C Sharp or B Flat", Bubsy says, "Go for Baroque". Bubsy also says, "Remember, I'm a trained purrfessional."
  • Punny Name: All of the Woolies in the game are named after types of material. The queens are named Poly and Esther, and their assistant is named Professor Nylon.
  • Quote Mine: The review on the front cover for Bubsy 3D goes beyond this as it sports a quote from a preview, not an actual review.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Upon seeing the level title "Eye of the Bobcat", Bubsy says: "That's it, I'm outta here, you can't make me...", and runs off the screen.
  • Self-Deprecation: The Woolies Strike Back has a verbosity setting that controls how often Bubsy spouts one-liners with a caption to give an idea on how often he will. At the maximum setting the caption just says Bubsy.
  • Sequel Hook: Bubsy 3D ended with this. With Bubsy Trapped in the Past, the Woolies plan to invade Earth and take all of the wool for themselves.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the intro to "Night of the Bobcat", Bubsy says, "Hey I thought I saw Elvis back there."
    • In the intro to "The Good, the Bad and the Woolies", Bubsy says, "Well, it worked for Clint."
    • In the intro to "A Fistful of Yarn", Bubsy says, "Go ahead, make my day."
    • In Bubsy II, Bubsy says "I'll be back".
    • In Bubsy 3D, the intro to "Escape From WooL.A." shows Bubsy dressed as Snake Plissken.
    • At the end of Bubsy 3D, the Woolie leader says "Bubsy has left the planet", as Bubsy is dressed in an Elvis outfit.
    • At the end of Bubsy 3D, Bubsy says, "Hey, how did I end up in Triassic Park?"
  • Single-Use Shield: The first T-shirt you collect will grant you a shield that acts as your extra hit point in Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back. Collecting other T-shirts when you have the shield will give you lives.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The titular bobcat Bubsy, who thinks he's the coolest cat around when in hindsight he's an annoying idiot.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Especially in Bubsy 3D, carnival music, playing regardless of any fun, during menus, saving, loading, during levels, cutscenes, and when Bubsy is kidnapped by aliens in a cutscene before facing a Woolly Mammoth.
  • Space Pirates: The space level in Bubsy II has a distinct pirate theme to it, including treasure chests, hooks, and pirate-esque BGM.
  • Space Zone: The final level of the first game, which takes place on the Woolies' mothership.
  • Sphere Eyes: Bubsy has these.
  • Stealth Pun: Bubsy's catchphrase, given he doesn't stress the wordplay like he normally does. "What could paw-sibly go wrong?", to which Jim Sterling's memorable reply was, "Apparently most things, Mr. Bobcat."
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the first game and 3D, Bubsy will drown if even his toes touch water.
  • Tagalong Kid: Bubsy's nephew Terry, and niece Terri in the second game. They could be controlled by a second player.
  • Techno Babble: In Bubsy 3D, the Woolie scientist Professor Nylon attempts to explain how Bubsy constructed a rocket ship, harnessed the power of atoms, and traveled through time, while being interrupted by a rowdy audience.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: In Bubsy II, Bubsy's niece Terri wears eyeshadow and a blue skirt. Bubsy's nephew Terry wears a red shirt and no pants.
  • Third Is 3D: Not counting Fractured Furry Tales.
  • Timed Mission: In the first two games, you had 10 minutes to complete each level. Averted in most levels in Bubsy 3D, with the exceptions of the Bonus Stage and the underwater levels (see Oxygen Meter above).
  • Totally Radical: Bubsy trying to be cool, but is rather embarrassing and lame than anything.
  • Uranus Is Showing: In Bubsy 3D, Bubsy's first words are, "I knew I should have taken that left turn at Uranus."
  • Vent Physics: Bubsy can ascend himself when he glides on top of the updrafts generated by air vents.
  • Vocal Evolution: Rob Paulsen sounds much more helium pitched as Bubsy in Bubsy II than in the cartoon. Given his predecessor, Brian Silva, had his voice pitch shifted to achieve Bubsy's voice in the first game, it is likely that Paulsen adopted the same technique.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Bubsy is responsible for the Trope Namer, with it being his catchphrase. He also extensively says it in the unaired pilot, and the saying is even the pilot's title! And continues to say this as his signature, lame pun.
  • "What Now?" Ending: Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tails ends like this.
  • What the Hell, Player?: One of Bubsy's death quotes in II is a sarcastic "Keep it up, JUST KEEP IT UP!"
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind. "Woah, are you still playing this thing?" says Bubsy, before the final level.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: When Bubsy is referring to the punny level titles. In the intro to "Beavery Careful", Bubsy says, "Hey, I didn't write this stuff." One of the sound bytes heard before a level in Bubsy II is "Who wrote this stuff?!" Another has Bubsy asking if the writers' strike is over.


Video Example(s):


Bubsy in Bubsy 3D

In the game Bubsy 3D, an infamously bad game that killed the series, these 3d animations (specifically death animations) were most the only redeeming factor aside from things like some of the music for example. And here are Bubsy's death animations that seem to show comedic effort (compared to the Bubsy pilot).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheManyDeathsOfYou

Media sources: