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The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants

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Description official description

Bart vs. The Space Mutants is a platform game where the player goes into the role of Bart Simpson (from the TV show The Simpsons) and must stop the Space Mutants from invading Springfield.

On each of the five levels, Bart must collect (or get rid of) the ingredients that the Space Mutants are planning to use to build their machine, such as purple objects or balloons. He also has to collect enough "proof" of the aliens existence (brown coins left behind when they are jumped on), so his family members will help him when he meets a boss (characters such as Nelson and Sideshow Bob). This won't be easy since the Space Mutants are "using" human bodies as disguise. In order to discover who are the real Space Mutants, Bart must use his X-ray Specs.

The ways Bart can get rid of those objects sought by the Space Mutants are numerous. For instance, in the first stage, Bart must get rid of purple objects. He can dye them red, cover them, wash them, etc. Some even involve a little puzzle solving, like playing a trick on Moe to make him get out of the bar.

Bart also has some coins that can be used in many ways throughout the game, like buying things, getting devices operating, etc. Those coins are essential to solve some puzzles in the game.

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Credits (DOS version)

12 People

The Simpsons Characters Created by
Game Design by
  • Imagineering Inc.
Original Score by
Story Conceived by
Game Developed by
  • Arc Developments
Game Produced by
Software Engineering by
Visual Engineering by
Audio Engineering by
Additional Sounds by
Additional Graphics by

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 68% (based on 41 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 126 ratings with 6 reviews)

Conversion of average platform game which has some nice ideas, but is ultimately dull.

The Good
The animated intro sequence is a welcome addition. The style is done in a thoughtful way in regards to how the show was done at the time, with good use of shadows and different lighting to generate mood and atmosphere. Titles and credits are also done nicely, with good touches from the show.

I liked the idea of being able to interact with the game world, the ability to enter shops and buy items with money that you collect. The way in which you go about this is also made simple, and uncomplicated by only using the joystick and fire button, so this aspect of the game is well implemented.

X-ray specs to see which pedestrians are mutants are an interesting inclusion, and the subsequent visual contrast when used is also effective.

Some decent voice samples, such as the famous “eat my shorts”.

The Bad
Sprites are small, and ill-defined and while various character’s are recognisable, fails to capture the Simpson's flavour quite correctly in my opinion. Animation wise, no better or worse than the NES original, but minimal nonetheless. Backdrops are too flat, and lack depth, making for a detached feeling of being in the Simpson’s universe. Definition and colours are the only real improvement, and that isn’t saying much. The isometric Simpson’s game which was in development for home micros’ that was ultimately scrapped in favour of this hastily settled on conversion, looked and sounded much more interesting than this game.

Music is a rendition of the classic theme by Danny Elfman, which sound’s okay, but should have been much better given the Amiga sound hardware. Uninspired sound effects are dodgy, and don’t improve on the original.

Basic game-play consists of guiding Bart left to right, avoiding mutants that bounce up and down on the spot in varying degrees of height and speed, and by spray painting, or by some other means of disguising objects of a specific colour, because some mutants can use things of that colour for the dastardly purpose of creating a weapon worthy of conquering the world. Play is slow and boring, and Bart’s movements are a bit too stiff, particularly jumping. Learning all the routines of the nasties is simply tedious, and some times they are arranged in such a way where you can’t get by without enduring some damage which is naff. Very unremarkable stuff, and I couldn’t find the motivation to stay with this one for any extended period of time.

The Bottom Line
My overall feeling is Bart versus the space mutants is a dull game, with strictly average audio visuals’ thanks to very little enhancement, and similarly average game-play, with little redeeming features. But don’t take my word for it, any ardent Simpson’s fan should at least go out and try it, and who knows, you might feel differently, but I don’t think this will be everyone’s cup of tea.

Amiga · by Nick Drew (397) · 2007

A good start for the Simpsons

The Good
Bart vs the Space Mutants is the first major Simpsons videogame licensee that I know of, and as expected with most licensed cash-ins the game was simply a clone of the most popular genre at the time with the particular licensee's characters and locations slapped on... or was it??

Well, yeah it was. But thanks to a series of interesting design choices the game remains an oddity in the world of NES-generation platform games. You see, the evil space mutants (those giant green monsters from space that have become a fixture in the series) have crafted a sinister plot to take over the earth, and good 'ol Bart Simpson is the only one who knows about it and since no one believes him, the only one able to stop the aliens. One would think since this is "one of those games" that Bart's quest involved nothing but having you jump around Springfield while hitting/avoiding the alien freaks lurking around town and collecting coins and similar standard-issue items in your eternal quest to get to the next level... Right? Wrong. The developers while still making a game that appealed to the most kid-friendly genre at the time (a fact worth mentioning considering that the Simpson's fanbase was still pretty young in those days) also managed to inject a series of somewhat deeper gameplay concepts that included collecting evidence to help gather the help of the many familiar Simpsons characters, and also by including the interesting idea of having to foil the alien's plan indirectly.

What does that mean? That you aren't going to win if you kill every baddie around as in most games of these type, what you have to do is defeat the enemy's source of power, which is misteriously related to the color purple. What this means is that you have to explore the levels in detail hunting down these purple blotches and nullify them someway. Sometimes they are obvious and a dose of your trusty spray-can will do the trick, but sometimes they require you to think a little and solve a small jumping puzzle or do some sort of small deduction work in order to find out just how to cover that purple billboard or clean that purple dog...

All in all a challenging and fun twist on a tried and true concept that doesn't boggle the young minds craving for jump-n-run action and which uses the basic control scheme used since Mario Bros to introduce such concepts as inventory and money management (used to buy new and better weapons), to form a nice cocktail between the two.

The Bad
The NES version really didn't do this game justice. Sure, the controls and design seemed fit for the system but the graphics and sounds seemed like crap to me at the time seeing as how the game featured such many large sprites and complex backgrounds that were clearly out of the NES's league. Nowadays, looking at the screenshots of the other versions it becomes quite clear just how much were all of us stuck on the NES missing... Boy just look at those Amiga graphics...

The Bottom Line
A typical platform game based on a lucrative license that nonetheless manages to avoid the usual pitfalls of these adaptations and even manages to include some clever touches that make it worth noticing in the sea of cloned platformers that was the gaming industry in those days. Worth picking up, but while the NES version is playable why neglect the eye candy you can get from any of the other, more powerful versions like the Amiga or Genesis one?

NES · by Zovni (10504) · 2004

The first and still one of the best Simpsons licensees

The Good
Back in the early 90s I used to read a lot a certain video game magazine. I got to know most of my first games through it, and this includes Bart vs. the Space Mutants. The magazine had an article covering the first two stages for the NES version of the game, and I was amazed by the variety of gameplay the game had to offer. By that time I had an NES but I never got to play the game on it (I didn't find the game to buy at any store and I guess I didn't find it on any rental store, or else I would rent it, as I did with most the games I played back then).

One year later my brother got us a Mega Drive and it came with Altered Beast on it. As I did with my NES, I rented most of the games I played, specially because I had bad experiences in buying some games. Some of them used to turn out boring in a couple of months and I found it too expensive to buy a game just to find myself tired of it after some play time. But I never got Bart vs. the Space Mutants out of my head so I got it for Christmas in 1992, and it was the only game I ever bought for that particular Mega Drive (which I sold in 1996).

I was really excited about it, because the graphics in the Mega Drive version were far superior than the NES one. Besides, I had two magazines covering all the strategies to beat the game, so it really seemed like a great deal. And in fact, I wouldn't regret buying it.

First of all, the graphics in the Mega Drive version just shine! They are colourful and really make justice to the show. Looking at the opening animation screens today, I realize they are quite simple. They're not really what you would call animations, as the UFO image just scrolls down the screen and the animation where Bart puts his X-Ray glasses to see the Space Mutants is really just two alternating frames. But that really looked amazing back in the day. The use of bright colors fitted the game even more due to an interesting plot device right in the first stage, which probably is the strongest feature in the game, granting space for really great gameplay features all through the game.

The story is the following: the Space Mutants are about to take over the earth and, to do so, they're building a powerful weapon out of purple objects. Where will they gather the objects? Springfield, of course. This may seem really dull for an story, but this simple story allows the game to be more than just a regular platformer. Bart is the one to save the world, as the title implies, and to do so, in the first stage, he needs to get rid of all purple objects he finds. He will do so in the most varied ways, what gives the game some puzzle solving action. The easiest way of doing so is painting the purple objects other colors than purple. The color of choice here is red, and this is done by using a color spray can. But Bart can also get rid of the objects in other ways, like walking on a clothes line to drop clothes over the objects, or using a wrench to open an hydrant and let water wash the wet purple paint on an awning. The later way involves more than you would expect from a platformer, as Bart has to buy the wrench at a specific store. He does so with coins collected all over the stage. The coins are also used in other interesting ways, such as playing Moe a trick to get him out of the tavern and painting his purple apron. The coins are used also in different ways at later stages.

Once Bart frustrates the Space Mutants' plans in using purple objects, they turn to other objects for the same purpose. In stage two, they'll look for hats at the shopping mall, in stage three it will be balloons at Krustyland Amusement Park, in stage four the objects sought will be "Exit" signs at the Natural History Museum and in the last stage, they'll look for radioactive cylinders at the nuclear facility where Homer works (finally something that resembles fuel for a powerful weapon!). The variety of objects and scenarios add value to the game, as the level design gets really interesting and fun. Again, the ways of getting rid of the objects is quite varied, and the game will keep the player interested.

Each stage has a final boss, and there's something interesting here too: Bart can get help from one of his family members at each stage to beat the boss. In stage one it will be Maggie, in stage two, Marge, in Stage Three, Lisa and in stage four, Homer. The interesting part is how Bart gets their help: he must collect proof about the Space Mutants. He will collect it by jumping over their heads, but the problem is that the space mutants are using human bodies as disguise! Using his X-Ray goggles, Bart can tell the Space Mutants apart from regular human beings. Once he gathers enough proof to spell his family member's name, he'll get their help.

The music and sound effects are OK, but the music can get a bit annoying due to reasons to be spoken of in "The Bad" section.

The Bad
There is a really cool "Eat my shorts, man!" speech every time you die. Even though it is cool as I said, I'm mentioning it here in the bad section because you'll hear it a lot of times, as this game is reeeeally hard! Even though I loved this game, I got quickly uninterested in it because I kept dying several times right at the first stage!

Even though the overall gameplay isn't that complex, the game can get a bit confusing at first. One button is used for action, one for jumping and one to use the main weapon (which varies throughout the stages). Running and jumping higher on objects can be done by holding the jump button, and this is somewhat difficult sometimes. Jumping farther can be done with both the gun and the jump button pressed, but you'll lose ammunition. Bart also moves a bit too fast and it makes difficult for one to navigate Bart through some jumping parts. You know a platform game went wrong when you die too much from imprecise jumping.

Bart has a life meter of only two hits, so dying is pretty easy. The game has lots of hidden lives, and be sure you'll need all of them. This is that kind of game you have to master each level in order to beat, as you'll need to get to the last level with the most lives you can. On top of that, the game offers no continues.

Another annoying thing is that you really have to know each level by heart. The puzzles aren't completely intuitive and some of them require a really precise positioning of Bart. For instance, at the first stage you have to use a flying rocket to scare a purple bird away. Unless you're in the exact right spot, you'll miss it and will have to use another rocket. As rockets are bought with money, you'll need every coin you can get. As moving around the level is pretty hard, either you get to know the right amount by trial and error or you find yourself a walkthrough to tell you beforehand what to buy.

It took me several years of practice to beat this game, and I only did it once. I reached the last level lots of times, but finishing was never easy. The time limit is something that you only consider when you get the last level, as it is a maze really hard to memorize, (even more due the fact you get to it much less frequently than the earlier stages, for obvious reasons).

The sound effects, although good, are a bit lacking. You'll get sounds for hitting objects and jumping, but that's it. I'm pretty sure it isn't due hardware limitations, even though this game came early in Mega Drive's history. Some more digitized bits, as when Bart plays Moe a trick would be awesome. But even if that is asking too much, other simple but more frequent sounds would be cool. The music is something which could've been done better. Even if it is cool, the levels are sometimes quite long, and the amount of time you spend on them (specially because of the constant dying) makes it a bit annoying. Also, I don't get why the developers didn't use the main theme from the show in the opening screen.

The Bottom Line
Bart vs. the Space Mutants is a really good game with lots of great ideas. The gameplay is varied and it bears lots of interesting gameplay devices which add some adventure value to a good platformer. The graphics are really good, even it being an early Mega Drive release. It could be a bit more polished by the inclusion of better sound effects and tighter controls. I for one would love to see a fan-made remake of it, with its minor flaws addressed and the difficulty level lowered a bit.

Genesis · by chirinea (47013) · 2009

[ View all 6 player reviews ]

Trivia

Amiga bundle

The game was bundled with the Amiga for about a year, in a bundle called Cartoon Classics which also included Captain Planet, Lemmings, and Deluxe Paint 3. The pack was unchanged when the Amiga 500 Plus model launched. Because the Amiga didn't come with a joystick at the time, the bundled version was edited to allow for keyboard control.

Amiga version

For the Amiga version, Arc Development decided to include an animated opening sequence in the style of the actual Simpsons show. In order for them to do this they had to send each frame to Matt Groening and he hand drew over each one. Despite this effort, the animation still looks poor in comparison to the show.

Awards

  • Commodore Force
    • December 1993 (Issue 13) – #85 “Readers' Top 100”

Information also contributed by Martin Smith

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Psykax.

Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Game Gear added by chirinea. SEGA Master System added by Sciere. ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. Atari ST added by Terok Nor. NES added by Unicorn Lynx. Amiga added by MAT. Amstrad CPC added by Katakis | カタキス. Genesis added by Syed GJ.

Additional contributors: Johnny "ThunderPeel2001" Walker, Alaka, FatherJack.

Game added June 28th, 2001. Last modified September 2nd, 2023.