If you can’t have one of the Greatest Things Ever on your resume, one of the Worst Things Ever is…not such a bad second. Not for conversation starter and amusing anecdotes purposes, anyway — if that thing you helped make was notoriously bad enough, people want to hear stories about it. People want to tell you about how much they hated that thing, how much money they wasted on it, how many bitter tears they shed, and how bad they wanted to punch anybody in the face who worked on it, at the time. Sometimes they seem like they still kinda want to punch somebody.
If you ever paid good money for Bubsy 3D for the original Playstation, or your grandma did, I’m not sure I’m the guy who deserves that punch in the face, but: hi, I’m Robert. I worked on Bubsy 3D.
And if you even know what that title means, it probably made you want to punch a face sometime in your life, at least a hundred times before you ragequit the goddamn game.
For non-gamers: Bubsy 3D regularly turns up on Worst Video Games Ever lists. Almost all of them. Sometimes it makes the top ten, along with gems like: E.T., the Atari 2600 game that ended up destroying Atari, pretty much; Custer’s Revenge, another Atari 2600 game that…is almost entirely about rape, also it’s totally racist; and legendary games industry flameouts and centuries-dragged-out soap operas like Daikatana and Duke Nukem Forever. And Super Columbine Massacre, jeez.
Here are a few illustrative and typical quotes about the game, starting with maybe the greatest ever:
- “You can almost taste how much the Bubsy 3D makers hated the children of America.” — Seanbaby
- “Thank god the programmers included an option to turn off the sound bites Bubsy spews during the game; after having to endure that lispy, grating voice two or three times, the player may be tempted to kill his or her television.” — Gamespot
- “Quick, what’s orange, has four legs, and sucks all the air out of the room in under two minutes? Why, it’s Bubsy 3D! Accolade’s answer to a question no one asked.” — Allgame
- “Picture the scene: its Christmas in 1996, and I have just unpackaged the biggest present under the tree, which just so happens to be a Sony Playstation. Alongside it are two games; Crash Bandicoot and Bubsy 3D. I choose to play Crash first, seeing as I knew more about it due to the high advertisement at the time, and have a great time. Then I put Bubsy 3D in and expect a similarly excellent experience…Never have I been so wrong about anything in my life.” — Darren Cooke
- “There’s a special place in hell for the people behind Bubsy.” — Kurt Katala
And then there was the dishonest marketing for the game, which just cemented the legend. Somebody made up reviews and an award for Bubsy 3D, which…you know, the Internet had already happened, so it took like ten seconds longer than it would now — because no Twitter back then — for the World Geek Collective to go HA HA at all that.
But that was all after I’d left the company and moved to another state. I was assigned to the game in some downtime between positions on other games, and my contributions to Bubsy 3D amount to: I made fonts out of the hand drawn cartoony type and “Wooly” alphabet so the artists could build titles and signs for the game, and I made a couple of artists’ drawings and paintings into background scrims. I also did the first announcement web site for the game, because it was 1995 and I was the only person in the company who knew Internets.
Oh, and: I made one texture, which I actually saw described in one very angry twenty-minute YouTube video once (I’m not looking for it again, there are thousands of them about Bubsy, help yourself) as the only texture in the game that didn’t look like Satan shat all over the man’s television. Or something like that. So: I felt pretty good about that positive contribution to someone’s life, anyway.
As painful as Bubsy 3D is to play, imagine what it would be like to work on the game knowing full well how fucking horrible it was. Even for a few weeks. Believe me, every single objection ever raised since in reviews and on blogs about Bubsy 3D was also raised many times while that game was being made. To be honest, much of it was said over sullen beers between people who were not planning to work at that place much longer, and not to the people who needed to hear it worst, but: like they woulda listened. We’re talking about the people who made Bubsy 3D, after all. (Oh, and: on that note, I have seen a few people calling the game a ripoff of Mario 64 — it was not. The two games were in development at the same time, and…boy was the day the first Mario 64 demos hit the Internet a gloomy day in Bubsy town. I mean: if you weren’t halfway out the door already. I just kinda went HA HA. Anyway: everybody knows Bubsy is a total ripoff of Sonic, duh.)
So the reason Bubsy 3D comes up right now when…clearly I’m all about 666ties, lately is…I suppose this was inevitable: somebody made a spoof of it. An artsy weird spoof that also faithfully recreates the James Turrell Retrospective at the LA County Museum. That gets quotes like this:
“This isn’t the same Bubsy you were tricked into playing as a kid. But that’s a good thing. You don’t want to play that Bubsy.”
A friend who knew I’d worked on the game made sure I saw that and I went and played through it the other night, and SPOILERS: YOU GET TO SEND BUBSY TO HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t know who the beautiful geniuses are behind Arcane Kids, and I doubt I will ever know. Hell, I don’t need to know. I just want to thank them, from the bottom of my heart, and…I think I can comfortably say, even after all these years…from about ninety percent of everybody who ever had to work on Bubsy 3D: thank you. I don’t know if making the damn thing actually hurt worse than, say, being ten years old and getting it for Christmas with a brand-new Playstation and it’s the only game you got, but…I bet I hate that game and that stupid bobcat harder than that ten-year-old ever did, or any twenty-minute-ranting YouTuber.
But if you think I’m wrong, and you ever loathed Bubsy as much as I do: here’s that chance you always wanted to murder him. And visit the LA County Museum. To see the James Turrell Retrospective.
Did any of this really happen?