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Written by  :  Zovni (10635)
Written on  :  Mar 26, 2004
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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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?