A Mascot Platformer!
by Chris Jorgensen on July 11, 2016
This summer is the 25th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog! So it seems like a good time to announce that Ferocity 2D is developing an original, high definition platform adventure game: Bearcat Attack!
First, some background on this game's inspiration.
Around '94 was the beginning of the end for 2D platformers as kings of console gaming. As such, my interest in console games had waned. The 3D era was rough for my favorites. While Mario made the leap from two to three dimensions brilliantly, almost all publisher mascots did not. Among the famous failures: Earthworm Jim bombed, Sonic didn't translate well, and most infamously Bubsy hit the third dimension with a thud. I didn't own a console in between the SNES and original Xbox.
The Atari Jaguar was my last console fascination. In a way, it was the dying gasp of 2D. Atari Karts was a stunner of a mode 7 game (and part of the inspiration for the style we're using for Wacky Wheels). Rayman was gorgeous. I've always wondered where games would have gone had 3D not been possible. Perhaps it's because I never owned a Jaguar, I've only retained the fascination with its games. I have no ill-memories associated with it — other than perhaps never owning one!
One game specifically has always been curious to me: Bubsy. What was it about Bubsy that caused it to go from a very hyped contender for King of the Mascots to one of the most routinely mocked game series of all time? The poor transition to 3D couldn't be the entire blame. Earthworm Jim and others suffered that fate but are still beloved today. I don't think Bubsy's '90s attitude could be blamed either. After all, what character is more '90s than Sonic, a character that remains popular?
Much like I looked at the "mode 7" kart racing genre as a basis for Wacky Wheels, I will be looking at the "mascot platformer" genre as inspiration for Bearcat Attack. What game mechanics worked in Sonic? Where did Bubsy go wrong? What about Aero, Toki, Radical Rex, Titus, or Alfred Chicken? What did they do well or poorly?
I genuinely believe the only way to truly understand is for us to build a mascot platformer ourselves. I've been able to team up with the insanely talented Mike Heald of Fully Illustrated to produce another entry in this long line of critters with attitude. Our creation is Bay the Bearcat, a youthful and somewhat naive character who has to defend his home when vermin invade. He is feisty, slightly unkempt, but pure of heart.
Bay is energetic and also a bit feral — you wouldn't trust him with your nice things! He runs very fast, can scale walls thanks to his claws, and can even glide — abilities very much inspired by Knuckles but taken further. In the above clip, for example, Bay launches from a ramp like an airplane. The idea is that he can use these ramps to fly up into otherwise inaccessible areas of each level.
The game is still in its early stages. The plan is to commit ourselves to the controls and game feel early on, while keeping the features minimal. Then once the core experience feels right, we'll layer in new wrinkles, enemies, and so forth. In addition to classic platform games, we've also looked at the modern Rayman games for inspiration. Those lush environments informed our first level theme, which is a green, mountainous region with falling leaves, water, caves, and more.
So there you have it! This is next for Ferocity 2D. There is a ridiculous amount of work ahead for Bearcat Attack. The goal is a 2017 release for Steam, as well as one or more console. Focused development will kick off once Wacky Wheels has exited Early Access.