North American box art for Bubsy 3D.
Bubsy 3D (also Bubsy is 3D in Furbitten Planet) is a platform video game developed by Eidetic and published by Accolade and Telstar for the PlayStation video game console (a Sega Saturn version was in development for 1997, but never released). Designed by Michael Berlyn, it was released on October 31, 1996 in North America and in August 1997 in Europe. The Bubsy series stars an eponymous protagonist. It is one of the first 3D platform games, though with limited movement. The game's complete name is a parody of Forbidden Planet, a 1956 sci-fi film.
The game was very poorly received and was regarded as one of the worst games of all time by GameTrailers, IGN, and GamesRadar. Many of the major elements of the game received criticism; it has been criticized for its graphics, its controls, and the obnoxious personality of Bubsy.
Gameplay and premise
Bubsy 3D takes place on the home planet of the Woolies, a species of aliens from the series, called Rayon. An intro video shows that Woolies invaded Earth and kidnapped Bubsy. Their rocket had a problem and Bubsy escaped onto Rayon. The Woolies learn that Bubsy is gathering atoms (which the Woolies consider worthless), and rocket parts to build a rocket ship (which the Woolies also consider worthless). None of the scientist know why Bubsy is doing this, but they believe him to be dangerous. The objective is to defeat the Woolie's two queens, Poly and Esther, and also escape from the planet by collecting rocket parts. In Bubsy 3D, players control the player-character Bubsy, who has several catch phrases that he says based on players' actions. Bubsy is able to walk in a straight line only, requiring players to take time to turn in order to go in a different direction. He can jump high, glide, and swim in certain levels. He defeats enemies by jumping on them, and he has a health system consisting of three health points called "Paw Points". The game consists of 18 levels, with three of them taking place underwater; in these levels, Bubsy has an oxygen meter that depletes over time and his gliding action is replaced by a jetting dive which makes him swim faster, but depletes oxygen quicker. In levels, players can collect items called atoms. If players collect 150 of them, they will go to a bonus round with atoms and extra lives to collect. Lani Minella voices Bubsy in this game.
Development and release
Bubsy 3D was developed by Eidetic and published by Accolade and Telstar for North America and Europe respectively. It was designed by Michael Berlyn. After the release of Bubsy 2, which Berlyn described as having almost killed the franchise, he and his team began work on Bubsy 3D. He cited the development as a challenge, due to having no experience with controls or tools for drawing environments in 3D. Development started in early 1995 with the Sega 32X as the intended platform, but due to the unsuccessful European release of the 32X, Accolade held back the rights until such time the game could be released on a stable platform. It was released in North America on October 31, 1996 and in Europe in August 1997. A release for the Sega Saturn in Spring of 1997 was planned, based on the original 32X development models, but was ultimately scrapped when the game was unpopular. Due to its release coinciding with Super Mario 64, Berlyn was worried; he felt that Bubsy 3D could have had a chance with early 3D adopters, but that it was outshone by Mario. He attributed the game's failures in part to the coinciding releases. After having seen Super Mario 64 in a much more complete state than Bubsy 3D at a trade show, the team wanted to make it more complex; however, it was late in the development cycle and Accolade was pushing for it to be released.
Bubsy 3D was heavily panned, and is considered one of the worst video games ever made. It holds an aggregate score of 50.90% at Game Rankings based on five reviews. It was given a 4 out of 10 from The Electric Playground, while Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a 3.25 out of 10. GameTrailers named it the eighth worst video game ever made, calling it a "cheap imitation of a quality product", referencing it as a rip-off of Super Mario 64, a game that was released around the same time. Talk show host Scott Rubin called it a "terrible clone". They described the visuals as resembling "painted cardboard boxes", criticizing also Bubsy's one-liners. GameSpot's Peter Criscuola called it the least fun of all the 3D action/platform games for the PlayStation at the time of its release. GamesRadar's Tom Goulter described Bubsy 3D as the video game equivalent to terrible films such as Plan 9 from Outer Space or Battlefield Earth. Seanbaby named it the 17th worst game of all time, criticizing its controls, the character's personality, and the graphics, which he calls "ass". He adds that "you can almost taste how much the Bubsy 3D makers hated the children of America." The cover art boasts praise from "EGM" and "PSExtreme", where it won the magazine's "Gold X Award", however the game received a negative review from the former, suggesting that the quote came instead from a preview piece.
IGN's David Zdyrko called it an "all-time classic debacle". IGN's Levi Buchanan used it as a prominent example of a bad attempt at the transition from 2D to 3D, criticizing its controls as well as the character design, which he says was ruined from the previous games in both appearance and personality. In describing the game, they call it "not-so-loved". IGN noted that it was widely regarded as one of the worst games ever made. 1UP.com called it "wretched" and a "would-be "Mario killer"". GamePro called it a "cash-in job". GameZone's jkdmedia referred to the early days of 3D gaming as the "dark and scary days of Bubsy 3D." He later compared the graphics of Chessmaster: The Art of Learning to this game's, commenting that "even Bubsy 3D is laughing." Kotaku's Michael McWhertor called the unreleased Pac-Man Ghost Zone closer to Bubsy 3D than Super Mario 64.
However, despite almost universal criticism, Absolute PlayStation gave it a score of a 67 out of 100. It also received a 'mediocre' score of 5.5 out of 10 on GameSpot despite its negative response.
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