Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective

Video games are often constrained to two different tracks of conventional presentation: mechanics driven systems or classical narrative. Both of these are fine in and of themselves, but they are so dominant that when something other shows up it feels disruptive in a way that points to how starved the medium is for anything that breaks those conventional modes.

Enter Arcane Kids’ Bubsy 3D, a piece of pop art that throws one of the most hated permutations of the most hated mascot character of the 90s into a journey through a nightmare mishmash of game styles and visual presentations, from the eponymous James Turrell museum trip, with Bubsy walking through groups of cheering human avatars to a journey through hell sliding across the roofs of gothic cathedrals on a coffin. If you’re unfamiliar with pop art, I recommend checking out the wikipedia page linked above, it’ll get you started on the rhyme and reason of the movement.

Bubsy 3D is weird for the sake of weird, confident that if you throw enough things at the wall the wreckage will be interesting. They’re right, too, because few games are as arresting and strange as Bubsy 3D. Why are all the tutorials provided by frogs? Why does beating the game unlock a ghost mode which has a real time chat with other players who have beaten the game and are also ghosts? Why Applebee’s?

The answers are pointless, because the question isn’t ‘why?’ in pop art but ‘why not?’ It’s a very silly, pretty stupid thing, but Bubsy 3D’s experience is a real artistic stance that is virtually unseen in any video games i know of. Play it, live it, be baffled by it, and then check out this list of cheats to find even more strange things in the world. 

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