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Quarterman Reviews: The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants (NES)

On 04/25/2016 at 09:52 PM by Quarterman

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The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants


 (Note: This is a rewrite of my very first game review, back on in 2009.)

 In 1991, The Simpsons had gone from a series of shorts on the Tracey Ullman Show to perhaps the biggest media phenomenon since Superman in the 1940's. They were on television, lunchboxes, candy, bed sheets….you name it. It seems you could not escape America's favorite jaundiced family, and video games were no exception from that. There was, of course, the famous arcade game and its ports, but the series also featured on nearly every contemporary system and computer. Today, however, we will be taking a look at Acclaim's Bart vs. The Space Mutants, more specifically, the NES port thereof.

 Acclaim, in the early 90's, was not exactly a byword for quality. Like many of their contemporaries, they were content with releasing licensed games for a quick cash-in (indeed, even their later game Turok was originally a 50's comic book). In fact, the infamous LJN was one of their labels, a fact which kind of foretells the quality of this game. The game itself was developed by Imagineering, who had a rather spotty record. One one hand, they made A Boy and His Blob, on the other, they made Rocky and Bullwinkle, perhaps one of the most unfinished games in history.

 The game starts with the famous image of the family on the couch whilst the famous Simpsons theme plays in chiptune. I really hope you like this particular rendition of the Simpsons theme, because it plays constantly. It personally took me about half a millisecond to get sick of it. And it loops way too often. There are a few other songs, but they are just as grating. I am rather disappointed at the lack quality in the music, but it is perhaps fitting given the rest of the game. The sound effects are nothing spectacular either, being just the very basics of what you'd expect from a video game. The addition of digitized voice is pretty cool at first, but then you hear the same samples for the 15th time and it just becomes horribly tedious.

 Graphically, the game looks absolutely awful. While the graphics are colorful, they are very simplistic and the spritework is very poor. The game aims to replicate the animation style of the cartoon and for the most part misses by a country mile. Bart, in particular, stands out as a rather poorly-realized caricature. The NES was rather limited, sure, but it was capable of more than this game presents. The choice of enemies is rather odd, with such things as shoes and donuts. The x-ray specs overlay IS kinda neat to look at, but it's one very minor thing in a sea of mediocrity. Overall, it's a rather poor showing on the graphical front.

 When you get control of Bart, the game just feels….wrong. It's not just one big thing, but a culmination of smaller things that really put one out of the experience. For example, one must cycle through the menu system just to pause, which is baffling. I know the NES didn't have many buttons, but come on, lads. Speaking of baffling, the main objective of the game is….bizarre, to say the least. The objective of level one is to make purple objects red with spraypaint whilst avoiding aliens. Level two concerns itself with collecting hats (why?) while avoiding donuts and candy. The levels go on to collecting balloons (while avoiding hopping midgets), collecting exit signs, and finally collecting plutonium rods and putting them back in a reactor (which sounds like a REALLY bad idea). I know it is poor form to harp on the story in a NES game, but come on. The entire thing reeks of a lazy excuse to collect things and the choice of items (especially purple things and balloons) makes me feel like I am playing a bizarro education game.

 In terms of controls, the ones here are awful. Jumping is perhaps the most imprecise thing I have seen in a NES game outside Action 52, One can feel it in even the first level, which requires a fair amount of jumping. I often found myself falling through platforms or missing by a mile due to the awful jump controls. There is almost no sense of momentum, as run is bound to the jump button, making running jumps all-near impossible. There are numerous items on offer both in the game world and in shops, but those are all equally useless. The main issue is that hit detection is just so awful. You often have to be pixel perfect in order to hit something, and that is when the game decides to work at all. I often found myself wasting way too much of my limited spray paint in the vain hope of changing a trash can's color. The game is needlessly cryptic as well, with numerous necessary things that aren't hinted at at all. Things like prank calling Moe to spray his shirt, or using a wrench on a random fire hydrant, or using a trash can like a warp pipe to enter the hat dimension. It's all ver nonsensical and often rather frustrating. This, combined with the horrid controls, makes the game very difficult, and not in a good way.

 Overall, this is probably, at least to me, one of the worst games on the NES. I cannot stress enough my disdain for this trainwreck, and implore you to avoid it like the plague. With so many other choices on the system, there is no reason to pick this one up unless you are a diehard fan and absolutely must have everything connected to it. Even then, you may find that some things are best left forgotten. 



Cary Woodham

04/25/2016 at 10:13 PM

I'm glad I was able to rent this game back in the day, so I would know how bad it was and could save my money for other games.


04/25/2016 at 11:18 PM

I actually had the game when I was five. I thought it was awful back then, too. 

Nick DiMola Director

04/26/2016 at 02:01 PM

I had and hated this game as a kid. What a turd. One of the few games I traded in to Funcoland along with TMNT, Ghostbusters, and Robocop. On the positive side, they collectively funded A Link to the Past, which is phenomenal.

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