I'm ready to admit it: I once clamored, begged, and schemed to acquire Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind for the Super NES. I'd read the Nintendo Power and Electronic Gaming Monthly previews and reviews of the game just before June 1993 hit, and as the sixth grade at elementary school was coming to an end for me, I began calling local stores and scouring shop shelves for the game. I'd gathered up all my loose change and allowance savings into a $50 pile and gave standing instructions to my parents that if they found Bubsy in their travels, they should buy it and I'd pay them back. I even had the Nintendo Power character poster hanging on my wall next to all of my other gaming decorations. All of this fuss over a game that just about everybody decried as yet another animal mascot platforming rip-off, but so what? I knew I was destined to save mankind from the Woolie invasion.
The closing days of the sixth grade were marked with a special pool party at the local country club. I and my ninety-nine classmates were dropped off at the pool one morning and spent the day being splashed and stuffing ourselves full of pizza and Pepsi. Six hours in a public pool packed with extra chlorine does a number on one's vision, and so at the end of the day I found my eyesight blurry and my eyes burning so badly that I could barely keep them open. Exhausted from the wild blowout, I was ready to go home and sack out in front of the television. I may not have been able to see it, but I could certainly listen to it. Arriving home, my wonderful mother gave me my "graduation" present, and of course it was a box adorned with a certain smiling bobcat. At least, that's what they tell me, because I really couldn't see so well at the time.
"Rest your eyes," I was told, "You can play tomorrow," but for a dedicated Bubsy fan such as myself, that just was not an option. After months of searching and waiting I finally had the game. I wasn't about to let a little thing like temporary near-blindness stop me from enjoying my prize. I shoved the game pak into the Super NES, fired it up, and spent the next hour ramming poor Bubsy into every possible obstacle and enemy I could find. Wow, my eyes are totally shot, I thought, taking my mother's advice and turning off the game until my vision healed. I'd never played anything so badly before, but I knew I'd make up for lost time in the morning.
The next day I turned on the game with fresh eyes and found out that it wasn't my stinging vision to blame for Bubsy's mishaps. No, it was the game's horrendous controls that led to the out-of-control bobcat slamming and sinking to his doom time and again. Bubsy isn't a bad game, just one that takes some adjustment. Once I figured out that my newest hero was a complete spaz, I learned to go with the flow and, by the end of the summer and the start of middle school, I'd defeated the twin queens Poly & Ester of the planet Rayon and put the quipping cat out to pasture for good (save for an occasional return in my weaker moments). Bubsy's adventures went downhill from there into mediocre sequels and an animated TV show that nobody demanded. It was through Bubsy that I learned that not all animal mascot platformer characters are created equal and that I should focus my gaming efforts and budget on more solid, original adventures. With this lesson in mind I turned my attention to finding the next game on my wish list: Aero the Acro-bat 2. That, however, is a story for another day.