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The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World (NES) artwork

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World (NES) review

"The main problems reside in platforming and level design. There are too many mazes and too many instances where you must rely on faulty controls to overcome a series of tricky, tedious jumps. All for what? So you can play the four levels that are actually worthwhile? No thanks. I'll take Simpsons: Hit & Run any day."

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World asset

I loved Bart vs. the World only because I was ten and a huge fan of The Simpsons. As I played more awful games, and especially recognized that they were awful, I began to realize that I'd seen bits of their awfulness in games I loved. I'd go back every few years and try to remind myself why I adored some of these titles. The end result was not pretty. I came away feeling like a jilted lover, left to brood in my basement with a bottle of hard-a and handful of innocent memories. Memories that were lies!

Unfortunately, I can't rely on my memories of Bart vs. the World to review it. That's why I recently replayed the game, which might explain any suicidal tendencies I exhibited throughout the week. It's here that I have to delve deeper into my memories and stomp out the lies I've told myself.

The first couple of stages were exciting little romps. . .

The truth: The first couple of stages were serviceable at best. The merchant ship can be finished in under a minute with the barest minimum of skill. You run to the left, ascend a mast, run to the left again, done. After that, it's on to some repetitive skateboarding down the Great Wall. While avoiding pedestrians and grooves in the floor, you utilize ramps that send you flying across large gaps. Though this level can be tricky at first, it's all about timing your jump. If you can do that, you're golden. These stages are both amongst the most enjoyable in the game, and that's saying something when you consider how actually dull and easy they are.

I grinned as I took on the first stage of The North Pole: a cave maze. Oh, did I love maze stages . . .

The truth: I hate maze stages. Unless there's some logic behind solving the maze, they're all about wandering aimlessly. Once you solve the maze it loses its power in further sessions, and usually won't have the challenge factor that it did before. Every maze consists of a rail complicated by extra pathways (read: red herrings). Once you know where to go, the red herrings become a huge waste of space. The sad thing is there are quite a few ugly maze stages in Bart vs. the World, and none of them are entertaining. They're tedious and annoying, and usually consist of long or tall stretches of nothing, save for maybe platforms.

They become even more irksome later, where you head to places you wouldn't even think of going. At one point in Egypt, you have to fly up to the head of the Great Sphinx and enter its ear to complete the stage. There's no indication at all that you can do so. Unless you discover it by accident or happen to read Nintendo Power, your chances of surviving that stage are slim.

. . . while searching for the way out of the cave, I came to a zigzag formation of platforms. Bart vs. the World features a lot of careful platforming scenes that will engage the salivary glands of fan of the genre. . .

The truth: The game features a lot of basic platformer scenarios complicated by terrible controls. Not only is the control response stiff, but landing is slippery. That zigzag formation is actually a case against the game's quality. Basically, you jump back and forth many, many times. Most of the time, you'll slip off and have to start over. If you're unlucky enough, you'll even fall and die. I've actually spent an hour or more trying to complete that area before. Succeeding is not only a matter of leaping at the right time, but shifting your momentum back the opposite direction at just the right time. Jumping, something that is key to a platformer and should be accomplished with ease, is way too tricky. Having to do it over and over again is more than punishing, it's torturous.

Later stages grant no solace from platforming hell, the final one especially. It's there you jump from one tiny platform to another, moving right for a long time while dodging skeletons and other horrific creatures. After an eternity has gone by, you ascend and begin to head left. Yet another eternity passes before you ascend and repeat the process. This stage takes ages, and you have to hit every jump just right. Screw up and it's almost certain you will plummet and die. You might be lucky enough to land on a platform below you, but chances are the slippery landing physics will prevent your rescue. There are no continues in this game, either. It's not difficult or uncommon to choke at the final stage and have to start the entire game over.

. . . Each stage was interesting and challenging. I remember well riding icebergs while dodging killer birds, searching the innards of a pyramid, and even charging through a horror movie set in Hollywood. . .

The truth: I remember well cursing on each of those stages, dying multiple times, and even having a tough time beating the game using Game Genie. Yet some of them, like the pyramid and the second pirate ship, were actually quite enjoyable. They give you legit challenges and tough sequences that are actually doable. In one stage, I remember dodging a few dust devils in a vast desert before coming to a pyramid. I ascended the beast and entered it, eventually getting into a scene with narrow platforms that moved up and down. I ended the run with a snake-like collection of boxes that weaved its way around an empty room a la Super Mario World, eventually leading to a door. That was when Bart vs. the World truly showed its worth. There were only a few stages that feature this level of competent game design. It's sad that you have to struggle through a slew of terrible ones to reach them.

. . . All in all, I would say-

Shut up, ten-year-old me. This game must've looked great on paper. The developers probably thought they made a platformer masterpiece, not realizing what a cluster it would turn out to be. The main problems reside in platforming and level design. There are too many mazes and too many instances where you must rely on faulty controls to overcome a series of tricky, tedious jumps. All for what? So you can play the four levels that are actually worthwhile? No thanks. I'll take Simpsons: Hit & Run any day.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (July 21, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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If you enjoyed this The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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honestgamer posted July 21, 2012:

Good stuff! When I was a kid, I saved up and bought Bart vs. the Space Mutants. I even hung the poster that came with it on the wall in my bedroom. It was an important game in my childhood, but even at the time I realized that it wasn't actually a very good game. I mostly enjoyed it for the first two or three levels, which were difficult and frustrating. I still feel that the first level is probably the best level in 8-bit Simpsons history. Bart controlled horribly in all of the NES platformers. Later, people told me that Bart vs. the World is much, much better, but I tried it and I still prefer Bart vs. the Space Mutants. And Bart vs. Radioactive Man isn't even in contention. The Simpsons: Road Rage and The Simpsons: Hit & Run are both better than all of them...
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Roto13 posted July 21, 2012:

I vaguely remember making it to one of those sliding tile picture puzzles and turning it off and never touching it again.

I thought Bart vs. the Space Mutants was actually a pretty decent game, but Bart vs. the World was a mess.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted July 21, 2012:

Thanks for reading, gentlemen!

Vs. the World is a mess, as are most early Simpsons games. It especially irks me that they all had such terrible physics, like the developers were 100% clueless just how shitty they were. It's like they thought, "Hey, it worked for the last game, let's use it again!"

Vs. the World is bad, Space Mutants--while better than World--is meh, but neither of those are nearly as bad as Bartman Meets Radioactive Man or Escape from Camp Deadly.

One last thing: while I did just bash Space Mutants, I will say that it at least tried to do something interesting and unique.
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zippdementia posted July 22, 2012:

Great review, Joe. I wasn't sure if the gimmick would hold, but it really did. You always impress me with all the new ways you take to approaching your reviews. I never know what I'm going to get from a Joe review, but I know it will always be good.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted July 25, 2012:

Thanks, Zipp!

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