In 2017 there was an article about the Game Gear prototype of Bubsy 2 that we posted here on the Bubsy Fan Blog. Today I decided to take a look around and see if that prototype had been released to the internet yet. And the word is, not yet. Hey, you hear of things, and things appear after a while. Learned this in the Atari world as we waited for the urban legend of Battlesphere for the Jaguar, Star Raiders 2 for the Atari computer, and many other wonderful games have appeared over time.
I did find an article on SMSPower.org however of someone that had tried to search for the prototype and though the rom is currently not released, the information on this page was quite interesting. First off, the site that I saw the mention of the Bubsy 2 Game Gear prototype and the Bubsy 3 pitch is not there as a website anymore. I did find this internet archive capture of the website.
As for SMSPower, the site admin, Bock had this to say nearly a year ago:
And then includes these pictures:
And for completeness, I'll add the pictures originally posted by Kraid Killer on Nintendoage
Overall Bock mentions the first three screenshots came from a the "Climax package including Bubsy II stuff." And that there was more in the Zip file. More screen shots?
Bock later says:
"Anyway, good news:
By looking into credits for the game I noticed the programmer also worked on Chicago Syndicate. I remembered I purchased a few old backup CD with Chicago Syndicate data last year, and managed to retrieve the data using an old Mac yesterday. The CD appears to contain some Bubsy source code (complete? incomplete? I don't know yet) so we can look into trying to rebuild the rom from the source code. "
Sounds hopeful. In that conversation the user DillyDylan adds:
"Did a bit of digging for Bubsy II.
’A. A. Mack’ is almost certainly Anthony Mack (sometimes goes as Tony Mack), a programmer at Climax Group. Anthony also programmed Chicago Syndicate and Arcade Smash Hits. "
The Conversation was fun to read and I took snaps of it should anything happen to that site:
Final thought For Today: What happened to the Game Gear Prototype?
Over the years, as I mentioned at the start of all this, I have followed some prototypes and later we hear from the developers who made them. They talk about the usual hellish quick pace of the video game industry to take a game from concept to release. Add to that technology changes, people's taste change, and then when you have a game completed, the industry has moved on.
So keep that in the back of your mind. Now consider this comment which seems to be a common assessment of Bubsy 2 for the Game Gear from the Lost Media Wiki:
"During development of Bubsy II, another version of the game was being developed alongside the versions that were released. This version of the game was to be released on Sega's handheld console, the Game Gear. From what is available of this version of the game, it appears to be nothing more than a colorized version of the Game Boy port. The Game Boy port of Bubsy II can be seen colorized if it is being played on a Super Game Boy, but the coloring on the Super Game Boy version appears to be far more basic than that of the Game Gear port, as the Super Game Boy version just puts a red tint over everything."
Was it a Game Boy port? With the first two screens with the flight screen and the title screen I could see that. However the writer of that statement did not have the screen shot of the Frogapult mini game. I don't remember that being in the Game Boy version. And if only colorized, the detail in the sprites is waaayyyy nicer than the Super Game Boy version where you get a color for each sprite. Hmmm, there is a video on this, quick comparison:
Trademark is different is the most notable, and the copyright and licensing is shown on the screen before the time screen on the Game Boy version.
The Bubsy sprite is obviously different between the two.
The Bubsy sprites are different. The plane is longer on the Game Gear version. And the score and other gauges at the bottom are arranged differently.
This is not the Game Boy version recolorized.
So for fun let's look at the Genesis version vs. the Game Gear version for the Frogapult screen thanks to Amy Rose Longplays:
I worked to give the conditions similar between the two screens with the counter at 00:00. (Is the counter working yet)? The part I notice here is the one thing that shows this prototype was not complete as the frogapult on the Game Gear version does not have a score counter?
Since we have not seen videos of the prototype we have to also consider the possibility that these are simply stills. Or if it was a working game, was the speed and gameplay at acceptable levels when Bubsy 2 was being released to market? Would more development been needed?
"Bubsy II is the second game in the Bubsy series, and was released for the SNES and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive on October 28th, 1994, with a Game Boy port in 1995, and a PC re-release on December 17th, 2015. The game's reception was similar to that of the first Bubsy game, where it was critically acclaimed at the time..." -Lost Media Wiki
This passage above puts things in perspective. Released in late October 1994 for the Genesis and SNES, and then I'm showing July 10, 1995 for the release date of the Game boy 2 version? Wow. That is a long time in the gaming world. Bubsy: Paws on Fire (POF) would see a gap in releases with the PS4/Steam versions being released on May 2019 and the Nintendo Switch version being released in August 2019. But POF was a three month gap where Bubsy 2 it was an eight month gap? Can you imagine that? And unlike the Switch version which is almost indiscernible from the other releases, Game Boy Bubsy 2 is very minimal in detail due to the hardware, fewer levels, no mini-games, etc.
So the 8-bit, black and white, version for the Game Boy got released and yet not a more graphically promising Game Gear version? One that is showing to have at least one mini-game? What stopped this? Three things come to mind, time table, finances, and licensing.
1) Time table, was the game running smoothy, close enough to development for completion? It is looking like this was not a regular port but it's own port, which means this would have required more time to complete. For this the artists and programmers have my condolences for the time put in for a project that didn't see release.
2) When both the Game Boy and Game Gear versions did not make the October deadline (not sure if they were commissioned at that point), did Accolade have the funds to release and market a game for two portable platforms? Was this one of the reasons for Bubsy 2 having the sponsorship of Nerf? To have help in funding marketing and release?
3) Licensing on the Game Gear is another thought. Accolade had won the ability through reverse engineering and time in court to release games on the Genesis with the first Bubsy game, but was there a similar battle with Sega and the Game Gear? Was this a battle they were unwilling or unable to take on at that point?
Current thoughts are: The Game Gear version appears to be an unfinished prototype, but it's own port, with graphics and features at least better than the Game Boy version. Actual game play speed is inconclusive at this time. Naturally would be interesting to play around with or at least see a video demonstration of what was possible.
We'll see if more surfaces for the Game Gear Bubsy 2 port over time. Thanks for revisiting this with us today.
Be well Bubsy fans and keep it up, just keep it up!
-Doctor Clu of the Bubsy Bobcat Fan Blog