‘Sonic Forces’ Bubsy: Why I really hope the internet is wrong on this one


During a recent Nintendo Direct segment featuring Sonic Forces, a trailer revealed the shadow of a new mystery character coming to the game. While there isn't enough detail to definitively figure out just who it is, the top candidate — at least according to Twitter — is Bubsy the Bobcat. 

Nintendo Direct 4-12-2017/Nintendo

Sonic fans have had it pretty rough for over a decade. Besides the retro-style Sonic Mania, nearly every single entry since the days of the Dreamcast has been a letdown. So bringing one of the most ridiculed mascots in gaming history might not be that out of place in Sonic Forces.

Sonic Forces Bubsy: Who is Bubsy the Bobcat, and why is he insufferable?

You may remember Bubsy the Bobcat from his lukewarm debut in 1993's Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind. That terrible pun of a title would set the stage for Bubsy's mediocre existence as an "in-your-face" representative of all the things bad about the '90's. Bubsy was a standout terrible platformer in the age of terrible platformers, and although the character was hyped up as the new Sonic or Mario, Bubsy fell flat.

The controls for the game were notoriously floaty, and the levels were cobbled together in a way that let everyone know that this was just a vehicle to get the mascot recognition, so its publisher, Accolade, could start slinging merchandise to kids. Pretty much everyone agreed it was bad, but it sold well because parents bought it for their children.

Quick to cash in again on that sweet, sweet Bubsy paycheck, Accolade released Bubsy 2 a year later — thankfully without a long, try-hard title. It came out for the Sega Genesis, SNES, and Game Boy, and it was even worse than the first game. The Game Boy version was a special kind of bad, since it had much worse graphics along with the terrible controls.

There was yet another Bubsy in 1994, Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales, for the Atari Jaguar. It was bad even for the Jaguar and sold around 60,000 copies. 

The game that killed the franchise, however, was Bubsy 3D: Furbitten Planet. The 1996 PlayStation platformer looked like a primary color cubist painting — in a bad way. Bubsy 3D is heralded as one of the worst games of all time and almost seems like an intentional attempt to kill the character. The game was originally slated to be released on the Sega 32X, and it seems like nothing was changed from the version developed for that system. Additionally, the team that worked on it had no experience with creating 3D environments.

Mercifully, there hasn't been another new Bubsy title since Bubsy 3D, but his meme-ability keeps him lurking on the outskirts of gaming culture as a jester. There was also a pilot for a Bubsy cartoon, and it's worth checking out. I won't ruin it for you; it's something you should just see.

Sonic Forces Bubsy: Why would Bubsy the Bobcat be in Sonic Forces?

Accolade was purchased by Infogrames in 1999. By 2000 it had been merged into its North American operation. All of Accolade's assets are now owned by Tommo Inc, including Bubsy. Tommo and Sega have worked together in the past, and Tommo has a license to sell smartphone cases with the likeness of Sega's classic video game systems.

In an interview with Famitsu, Sonic Team leader Takashi Iizuka has stated that the new character in Sonic Forces is "unexpected," and that it's not the Sonic Boom version of Sonic. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Sega would partner with Tommo to revive the ill-fated Bubsy the Bobcat. The silhouette in the trailer is also very reminiscent of Bubsy's design. Will we get a chance to learn to love Bubsy like we never could in the 1990s, or is this all just insubstantial flotsam on the tides of the internet? We'll know for sure when Sonic Forces launches later this year.

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