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The Simpsons: Bartman Meets Radioactive Man (NES) artwork

The Simpsons: Bartman Meets Radioactive Man (NES) review


"Youíll have to ride portable gun turrets throughout most of the stage, often down shafts where a slightly short jump (a move all too easy to execute, unfortunately) spell certain doom. But suppose you survive these just fine. There are still the occasional weak enemies that can easily decimate your entire life meter."



You might think that as the third game in the series, The Simpsons: Bartman Meets Radioactive Man would be good. The folks at Acclaim certainly had time to learn from past mistakes and to develop a compelling system for the final NES release in the series. Unfortunately, they did neither. The game falls flat on its face in just about every way you can imagine.

First, there are the visuals. They suffer from the Ďcram so much detail on the screen that everything ends up looking like scribbleí syndrome that affected some NES titles. While itís true that the junkyard that serves as the stage opener does look somewhat atmospheric as a result, it also looks like a mess of green and black, with brownish-orange serving as the foreground. The combination is hard on the eyes and clashes terribly. Of course, youíd expect as much from a dump.

What you might not anticipate is the steep difficulty level, which sets in immediately. Before you point and laugh at me for complaining about the challenge, though, know this: I was one of the few that actually played The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants through to completion. Iím up to the challenge when the game is rewarding enough, or fair enough. Unfortunately, The Simpsons: Bartman Meets Radioactive Man is none of these.

Much of the difficulty comes from Bartmanís inability to move limberly. His jumps are as stiff as youíll recall from past games in the series, and his fighting skills are absolutely absurd. In the first level, the game remains playable, if extremely irritating. Youíll dodge ants (they take off one of five slots from your life meter if you touch them) and flying screws and gears as you make your way up a series of jumps that finds heaps of junk forming skyscrapers. As you jump, youíll notice that you canít see much of your next target.

And so the guesswork begins. Standing atop one stack of tires, youíll look out to the right and just see a wide patch of space. You can jump, but you may or may not find solid ground. Early on, until you memorize the location of each platform, you just have to grit your teeth and hope for the best. Or maybe youíll see the top of a screw flash into the screen every once in awhile. That means thereís a ledge below it. Such minor clues are all you have to go on, and sometimes even those arenít present.

However, itís not the first level where things get bad. That honor is reserved for its follow-up, an apparent trip through massive sewage pipes that will have you tempted to take a mallet to your controller, your NES, the game cartridge and anything else in the general vicinity (do not play this game near small children or infants). In the second stage, youíll race through green, all the while hoping that the vertical shafts donít spell your doom.

This is because the blind jumps and poor play control continue. Itís almost like the developers relied on these flaws. Youíll have to ride portable gun turrets throughout most of the stage, often down shafts where a slightly short jump (a move all too easy to execute, unfortunately) spells certain doom. But suppose you survive these just fine. There are still the occasional weak enemies that can easily decimate your entire life meter.

This is again thanks to the awful play control. Reach the bottom of a passage and you might find a sewer worker that needs vanquished. Bartman has at his disposal a weak series of punches and kicks (except for the rare case where he turns into a Taz-like whirlwind of doom) that arenít going to form a threat to anyone. Often, youíll get in one or two hits before the enemy has overlapped Bartman, at which point youíll take two or three hits yourself just to get to the side where you can again do damage. Is this supposed to be fun? I donít think so.

Really, though, thereís only one thing you have to consider to know whether or not youíll want to play the game. After the frustrating first two levels, youíll soon find yourself staring at the ĎGame Overí screen. Your limited supply of continues will have been exhausted. If you want to get any further, youíll have to play through the first two boring levels all over again. Will you succumb to this temptation (ha! ha!) on the off chance that the game gets better in its final minutes? Iím guessing you wonít.

Rating: 2/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (February 03, 2005)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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