"Itís a well known fact that most games based on The Simpsons turn out to be rather poor. You only have to look at the rather pathetic efforts such as Hit and Run and Simpsonís Wrestling to get that point proven. However, if you go back a decade, youíll find the selection of Simpsons games to be (well, letís not be too hasty) rather sufficient. With an excellent 2-D beat-em-up on the arcade and Bartís Nightmare, a rather original collection of mini-games, it certainly looks like Simpsonís titles ..."
Itís a well known fact that most games based on The Simpsons turn out to be rather poor. You only have to look at the rather pathetic efforts such as Hit and Run and Simpsonís Wrestling to get that point proven. However, if you go back a decade, youíll find the selection of Simpsons games to be (well, letís not be too hasty) rather sufficient. With an excellent 2-D beat-em-up on the arcade and Bartís Nightmare, a rather original collection of mini-games, it certainly looks like Simpsonís titles have turned for the worst.
Basically, the game sees you in control of Bart as he wonders through his unconscious mind, searching the lost pages of his homework (which proves that Acclaim never watched an episode of the show. Bart? Homework? No wonder they went bust!). After a rather nasty fall into a regular street in Springfield, youíll start to notice that things arenít quite the norm. Mailboxes shoot across the street, spinning heads of Jebediah Springfield speed towards you and Otto, the bus driver, has suddenly developed a passion to kill you. As you walk down the street, avoiding these obstacles and other unfriendly enemies, youíll notice that youíre not getting anywhere fast.
Yes, the street that youíve been walking down for last ten minutes is an infinite path of random occurrences. Youíll be turned into a frog by a fairy resembling Lisa, turned back into a human by the kiss of an old woman, have your controls inverted by a wailing a saxophone and attacked by running televisions. It all sounds absolutely crazy which, in fairness, it is. Your only refuge from this everlasting spiral of madness comes from the sheets of paper which randomly appear on the ground. Coming into contact with one of these saviours will pluck you from this twisted world and drop you in a handful of other adventures. However, these occurrences can be so few and far between that you can be trapped in this world for hours and still not get anywhere!
Youíll fall into a rather placid gateway, which allows you to choose one from two coloured doors, each leading to a different mini-game and to a page of Bartís homework. These games vary, not only in content and difficulty but also in their enjoyment factor. We have a side scrolling shooter, which sees us fly through the sky as Bartman, attacking various flying foes with a slingshot and doing battle with a handful of familiar faces such as Barney, with his imaginary pink elephant, who belch and spew peanuts at you and the dastardly Mr. Burns in his ferocious bi-plane. Then, you may be thrown into a very basic, yet challenging, side-scrolling beat-em-up featuring the masters of disasters, Itchy and Scratchy. Here, youíll have to use a selection of weaponry, such as plunger-guns and giant mallets to fend off the duoís onslaught.
Despite being frustrating, due to the lack of a health bar, the mini-game featuring Bartzilla is by far the most enjoyable of the bunch. In this stage, you have to use your new abilities such as spewing out fireballs and zapping enemy tanks and planes with laser beams from your eyes. Youíll be pounded by fire from jets and anti-aircraft guns, with no idea of your current health status. After wandering through this lengthy stage, pissing yourself over the fact that you may die at any minute, youíll enter part two of the level. Here, youíll be able to scale a skyscraper in classic monster movie style, avoiding any objects that are thrown down out you from unhappy residents and from the impending wrath of Momthra, a hybrid of Marge and a giant moth. Eventually, youíll have a quick battle with King Homer at the top of the building which puts your ability to electrocute anything to the test. Well, if you shock him once, heíll revert back to normal and plummet to his doom. Oh well, so much for the big finale!
These three games are the highlight of the collection. After this, we have a swimming stage which takes place in Bartís bloodstream. Here, you have to use a pump to blow up a handful of germs that attack you and collect the Smiliní Joe Fission icons to unlock one of your pages which is bound at the top of the screen. Itís far too easy and relatively boring, but the last game transcends this by giving us one of the most difficult and frustrating games that I have ever played.
Set in an Indiana Jones like scenario, you have to guide Bart through a series of pillars, which get weaker whenever you stand on them. Eventually, theyíll collapse and drop you into a pit of fire, which is very annoying, but not as annoying as the devils that chase after you and poke you off or the giant Maggie statues that spit their pacifiers at you. Thankfully, (or is it) you can collect eggs that will give you an extra try at this level, but itís so frustrating that you probably wonít want to.
Bartís Nightmareís games arenít exactly very stimulating but they can be rather enjoyable if consumed in small doses. However, rambling through that endless path and getting random objects hurled at you isnít too fun, neither is waiting for an eternity for the pieces of paper to appear. Thankfully, what we have to work with isnít too bad at all as the majority of the titles are quite fun, despite a few rather dull efforts. It remains as one of the better Simpson titles but it still has its fair share of cock ups which knocks it down from the mark.
Community review by goldenvortex (March 01, 2006)
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