The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants – Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Developer: Imagineering and Arc Developments
Release Date: 1991
Nerd Bacon Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Reviewed by: bbpower
Space Mutants are plotting to take over the world and there is only one yellow boy who can stop them. Boy Trouble, Bart Simpson steps up to the plate to spoil a hostile space mutant takeover in The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants! Springfield is being invaded and Bart is the only one that has the knowledge to stop them!
For starters, I love this game. I grew up watching The Simpsons every Sunday night when the show was one of the most watched on TV. Like many other NES games, I grew up playing the crap out of this title when I was very young. This clever put together adventure is a great play and is very challenging on your talent and nerves. The developers did a fantastic job integrating Springfield into all of the levels and incorporating characters as well. This game is considered a best seller and the best Simpsons installment on the NES console. Also, the box art is awesome. However, I think it could have been made better. The Simpsons show had so much to offer and this game could have leveraged the plots/characters/scenery to make this game a near perfect score. Now, lets jump into the game.
In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, the evil space mutants are after a certain list of items to build their machine to take over the world. Bart must stop them in order to maintain life on earth and change or collect the items himself before the time is up. He has an arsenal of inventory to help assist him in accomplishing his goals. He starts off with a pair of totally awesome X-ray specs, which allows him to tell the difference between real humans and space mutants dressed up like humans. Also, free cans of spray paint, which are used to paint objects. With his starting ten coins, Bart can buy bottle rockets and cherry bombs, keys, wrenches, whistles, and a few other common goods to help his progress. Not all items are needed, but they all are helpful in one way or another, or unlock secrets.
The buttons are simple in this game. A is jump and hold A to sprint. B is to use spray can or fire other weapons. Select cycles through your inventory and start is how you use the highlighted item. Inventory can be activated on the fly and is easy to use. I loved this function, because there is no need to pause the game to select an item. It is truly on the fly selection and makes for fast paced play throughout the difficult areas.
There are five levels in which Bart much navigate through while successfully earning the “goal” of items needed to unlock the boss battle at the end to beat the level. Each boss is a beloved character from the show and will stop Bart in his tracks if he is not careful. Much of the scenery are keys to getting goals, which is fantastic and makes for some problem-solving capabilities. I loved this about the game. Also, the timer is considered a watch as well.
The first level is downtown Springfield, which is fully equipped with Moe’s tavern and a cleverly placed payphone outside for Bart to prank call Moe. The joke is different every time you play (for a few times) and it’s always a Bart classic. I love that the developer added these little details into the game. It made it seem like the real show, but they could have added more to really give a genuine feel for Springfield and how wacky The Simpson show was. In this level anything that is the color purple is a target. So, Bart must run through the town and spray paint, or use items available in shops to cause birds to fly away, or shutters to open, or even signs to light up. Anything purple must be changed, covered, or made leave for the goal to be met. Bonus chances happen when you experiment with landscapes and times. Spray can are spread throughout the level to refill your supplies to continue painting.
The second level is the Springfield Mall. This level is tough, but it probably would not have been if the controls were easier to work. I have a nice crisp controller, so it makes the power-sensitive jumping easier to use. Throughout the mall, Bart must track down as many hats as possible to stop the machine. This game got clever where hats are located, but some are located to screw you over. They are on people walking, which still can be aliens to jump on, but mostly are visible to the naked eye. Garbage cans have other hidden items. They put too many hats on this level and its far to easy to get the goal. However, the developers evened the challenge with hard jumping areas.
After the Mall, Bart must go to Krusty Land and shoot, or get balloons to stop the space mutants machine. There are many balloons and its easy to get the target needed, but this level has A LOT of ways to die. Luckily, Bart’s signature sling shot is available to shoot down the balloons and enemies. There are several mini games in this level players should partake in for extra points and needed lives. It took me years to realize some of the landscape was actually part of the game. Get through the levels and you will wind up at a Museum, which in my opinion is the biggest pain and took me ages to beat! I still dislike this level, but it’s very creative. Bart must find the few EXIT signs located throughout the level. Also, he must defeat a dinosaur before passing onto the fifth and final level. There are also bonus items to get here as well and an extra boss midway though the level to duke it out with.
With the aliens getting desperate, they head to Mr. Burn’s power plant to collect nuclear rods. Homer must have left rods everywhere, because they are spread across the floors. Bart must track down these green rods and return them into the reactor. This level is tough! Bart can only carry so many nuclear rods at a time before he must put them into the core. If you get lucky, you can find Marge (if you unlocked her at the mall), Bart’s mom, and she will take them from you and you can continue searching for more. Collect all the rods and the world is saved from the Space Mutants!
While playing the five levels, there is a Simpson family member Bart can acquire for assistance at the ending boss. This is where the X-Ray specs come in handy. Every time Bart jumps on the head of a space mutant, the alien is sent back into the sky and a shiny icon appears. Collect the silvery icons for a letter in the name of the character needed to save that person. They do come in handy at boss fights and levels, which is great because this game is difficult!
Speaking of difficult, there are so many places where Bart can die, but if players play their cards right, extra lives are plentiful. Extra lives are in the shape of a white square with Krusty’s face. They are easy to spot, but many are hidden along the way, or can be won. I found this to be a very good thing, because there are many lives in the game to acquire, but many of them will be needed until the game is figured out. Still, even if you are a pro, it’s easy to die. Bart can get hit twice before he loses a life. There is no way to gain hits back either. Also, there will be times where the game glitches and there is no choice but to die in order to keep going. This is very rare, but sometimes there will be missing sections of levels, which is extremely annoying, but don’t worry, life goes on and so does this game. When Bart dies, he says, “Eat my shorts.” Also, this gem gives you ZERO continues to conquer the aliens. Nothing like a good old fashion game where everybody is a winner… not. This game will send you packing and not think twice about your feelings.
The Simpsons: Bart vs. The Space Mutants is one of my favorite NES titles and easily one of my top twenty games of all time. This game brings out Simpson characters and throws in fun parts from the show. However, this game left me wanting much more. After five levels, I wanted five more. This game could have been better, because The Simpsons as a starting platform gives so much for creativity to branch off of. This game was probably rushed in some aspects to get it out for a holiday deadline, or some other corporate reason, and did not get its potential met. I would have loved for this game to be cartridge-battery worthy and it takes hours upon hours to beat. Doing so would have made this game awesome.
With everything said and my strong feelings voiced, this game deserves a Nerd Rating of 7.5 out of 10. For over twenty years, I’ve made sure to play this game a few times a year. It’s still a challenge and entertains me for an hour, or two. Also, it took me YEARS to beat, which I like and can appreciate. The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants is one of those rare titles where I am upset they did not make it better/longer/more thought out. This is one of those games I looked back on playing as a kid and it reminds me of how awesome old games are and how cool Bart Simpson still is.
If you liked this game, Bart returned in two more sequels for the NES: The Simpsons: Bart meets Radioactive Man and The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World. The entire NES Simpsons collection is considered bargain buys, but the first installment in this case is the best installment of the bunch and most valuable. Game on!
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