"The Simpsons have had mixed fortunes in the videogame world. Their self-titled arcade game was sheer class, and was responsible for the loss of a good deal of my pocket money when I was younger. Their console games, though, are a different barrel of beer. Rather than being good, wholesome, Duff beer, they are vile, evil, duff games. Bart vs. The Space Mutants is no exception, which is a great pity. "
The Simpsons have had mixed fortunes in the videogame world. Their self-titled arcade game was sheer class, and was responsible for the loss of a good deal of my pocket money when I was younger. Their console games, though, are a different barrel of beer. Rather than being good, wholesome, Duff beer, they are vile, evil, duff games. Bart vs. The Space Mutants is no exception, which is a great pity.
The plot is so bizarre that it even seems odd in the Simpsons' world. Y'see, the space mutants (from the B-movies usually being shown at the Aztec in the show) have invaded. Upon arriving on earth they disguise themselves as humans and set about creating a weapon of mass destruction. A weapon which consists of purple things, hats and exit signs, apparently. And only Bart can stop them. Oh dear.
This translates to a rather bland platform game where Bart must first destroy or collect all purple things, then all hats.... you get the idea. The locations are all very Simpsons. From the streets of Springfield (taking in sights such as Moe's and the Retirement Castle) to the Nuclear Plant, and featuring villains such as Jimbo Jones, it seems that a lot of effort has gone toward making this seem authentic to the show. The only thing that they forgot was that the show was actually quite good. Darn it, tripped at the last hurdle! This game, see, is terrible. Although it is pleasantly difficult (or infuriatingly difficult if you don't miss the good old days), and little touches such as making crank calls to Moe's really help the Simpsons flavour, it just isn't very fun. It's the fact that level one sees you only going after purple things, and level two sees you only going after hats and so on that makes it seem terribly repetitive. Especially since the lack of a passcode feature means that you have to go through the opening levels every time you play the game - this is a rare instance when I resent the fact that a game has large levels!
Control in the game seems far too laboured and sluggish. Half the time you are screaming at your character to jump while the little tyke unashamedly charges full speed into oblivion. The bastard. The 'double-jump' feature, too, seems impossible to use; although I am assured that in can be pulled off by pressing the jump button twice, it seems that it really is just down to pot luck, which is no good when it means that rather than pulling off the planned super-stylish leap over the alien scum, possibly including a wise-crack of some sort on your behalf, you find yourself jumping straight into the creature and, quite frankly, making yourself look a fool. Not a good start.
The graphics and sound are similarly awful. Although the backgrounds are reasonably varied, the central sprite only marginally resembles Bart, and he moves with all the fluidity of a brick in a traffic jam. The music consists only of the Simpsons' theme tune on a continuous loop, only it's a terrible attempt to capture that tune, and it grates instantly. The NES can handle good graphics (look at Mario 3 ) and great music (Mega Man 2, or just any Mega Man game for that matter), so there is no excuse for the sheer badness of the presentation here.
The game isn't quite a complete disaster, though. Maybe the fact that I only paid £1.50 for it numbed the blow somewhat, but I still find some good points here. As mentioned, the developers really do seem to have made an effort to make this a Simpsons game, as opposed to a game starring the Simpsons, and I found the difficulty of the game to be a bonus (I hate it when a game is over within a week or two), although ultimately this is not a game that I could in good conscience recommend to anyone. It seems that the developers thought that if the game was Simpsons-y enough then the Simpsons fans would love it whatever (a formula that has been stuck to in the years since this game hit the scene: Escape From Camp Deadly or Simpsons Wrestling, anyone?). Sadly, it didn't work. Being a Simpsons fan myself, I really tried to love this game. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I just couldn't muster up any enthusiasm over this game. Unless you're an avid game collector (or an avid Simpsons collector) I'm gonna have to recommend that you steer well clear of this one.
Community review by tomclark (February 03, 2004)
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