The Simpsons Bart Vs The Space Mutants NES Review

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Back in the early 90’s kids were interested in a number of things that graced our TV screens, but  something came along which kids were mesmerised by watching this new dysfunctional family and their weekly antics. This of course was The Simpsons. Naturally with all popular TV shows came video games, and boy did The Simpsons release their fair share of games on the early consoles. The very first game that was released based off the TV show was The Simpsons Bart vs The Space Mutants, which was released in 1991. It sounds promising enough, so how does it play nowadays – is it a vintage classic a la episodes form the first few seasons, or should it have been put to sleep like the last few years’ worth of episodes?

They gathered round, they couldn't believe a game was as bad as this

They gathered round, they couldn’t believe a game was as bad as this

The game puts you in control of Bart, which isn’t surprising since he was deemed the most popular at the time featuring in games such as this and invading the charts with “The Bartman”. The story goes that aliens descend to earth planning to rule the earth by taking over people’s bodies and making humans their slaves. Naturally Bart is the one who sees the aliens hatching their plan, he has taken it upon himself to help save the planet. So the story is plausible somewhat, and thusly move swiftly onto the first level, where the objective is to find any purple objects on the level, and spray them red or get rid of them. Quote why the aliens have a fascination of the colour purple I don’t know – maybe the designers got the idea from watching Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple too much, and this is where the game starts.

When the game starts you’ll notice along the bottom a sort of status bar, which gives information about what item your carrying, how many lives you got, the time limit and also “goals”, which means on the first level you need to collect 24 purple items, or spray them from purple to red. You come across the first item which is a purple trash can, but how do you make it change colour? Pressing A makes you jump, pressing B does nothing, pressing the select button changes the item your carrying and pressing start executes that action. But nowhere does it show the item needed to change the colour of the trash can. So you explore the level and find on a really high shelf the spray can. You then have to go back past the enemies that seem impervious to any form of attack, and finally spray the can with the B button. So throughout the level you have to find other ways of covering the purpleness, be that climbing on washing lines or finding inventive ways of spraying the colour purple away.

Not even Jebediah could save this game

If only you could get some Shaman to cast a spell to control a big towering monument to control…

One of the most infuriating aspects of this game that you may have encountered in the first level alone, are the controls. The backbone to any half decent game is having solid controls, which this game sadly lacks. Even when you move Bart, it does not happen straight away, there seems to be a delay that makes you push even harder on your d pad trying to get him reacting quicker, but it doesn’t work. To do a super run, to get the speed high enough to make you jump onto higher ledges requires a difficult combination of holding A+B in a way that doesn’t make you use up your spray can, and then having to press A at the right time to jump – why couldn’t they put B to sprint? The jump doesn’t work when you want it to, so to actually spray and remove all purple items in the level is just a pain, and to do a super jump where your sprinting with A+B and then A to jump again was unnecessarily difficult which it shouldn’t have been.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, you realise you don’t have a health bar, but 2 hits from enemies and your dead. That’s right, you graze the thigh of an enemy, scraping their head, do that twice and your back at the start of the level. It does remember the fact that you’ve sprayed certain things red or removed certain purple items, so you don’t need to redo these parts but your lack of any real health means you’ll go back to the beginning more than you realise. Fans of the game will enjoy the 8 bit digitsed version of the theme tune however to have it constantly playing the background is a bit jarring – it’s like anything in life it’s nice in small bursts to have it loop constantly, you’ll wish it was the Bartman on loop. Forget that, no one wants that.  The sound effects are standard 8 bit fare, typical of a platforming game with jump noises and that’s about it. It’s nice they attempted some form of digitized voicing that says “Eat My Shorts” and something at the start of the level that at one point resembles “Cool Man”. Alas, the music and sound effects do not help improve the quality of the game, which coming from Acclaim was a surprise, as they made some jolly decent games such as Turok and NBA Jam, who knows maybe they were having an off day and had too much radiation poisoning but regardless, it’ll take an insubordinate amount of time moving off the first level.

Wonder if Space Mutants 4 is better than this? Book your tickets now!

Wonder if Space Mutants 4 is better than this? Book your tickets now!

Fans of the Simpsons will no doubt have been excited that their favourite show was made into a game on the biggest console of the time. Imagine the joy going into your local store, treating yourself over the weekend to a rented game, seeing your favourite show on Nintendo, the two biggest things for a child coming together in some holy matrimony, but instead after attempting the first level over and over again, what better use of your time you could have used with your weekend – like doing homework. The second level (should you get there) involves collecting hats from a shopping centre, something equally as important as removing all purple items. For something as big as the Simpsons, there shouldn’t have been the need to rush the game, the developers would have known how much kids would have loved a game of their favourite TV show, so to have this pile of dung served to them is an insult to gamers and to fans of the show everywhere. Copies of the game are common in the wild so do try it just to see how bad it is, and to add to your collection. I just hope that other games on the system aren;t as bad such as Bart vs The World…

Rating – 1 out of 5

Anticipation NES Review – Review A Bad Game Day

Just before the review, a huge thanks to everyone who has contributed to Review A Bad Game Day, to @nintendo_legend and to 1 More Castle for organising the day, to all the retro guys on Twitter and to everyone reading this – many thanks!

Rare have contributed a lot to video gaming society. They gave us Banjo the Bear, Kazooie the feisty Bird, GoldenEye, R.C Pro Am amongst others. How can you dislike a company that brought us those gems? No-one however is infallible, there has to be some poop in the wilderness to find the diamonds, or as David Brent once quoted, “To see the rainbow, you need to feel the rain”. It just so happens that Rare created a rain full of turds, pee and other unwholesome ingredients without providing the gamers an umbrella to shield away from. How could a game be that bad? Well read on readers…

Board games are designed to be played round tables in log cabins, fire roaring, warm cocoa in china mugs, snow falling outside, families arguing that the dice wasn’t rolled properly. Well in my mind that’s what it should be, albeit with cheesy music in the background. Board games should not be played on consoles in lieu of Mario, Sonic and all our favourite characters. But this is what Rare did in 1988, proclaiming Anticipation to be “Nintendo’s first video board game”. Being the first doesn’t mean it’s bad in anyway, look at Back to the Future, but did it set a high bar for generations to follow?

Anticipation is a set like a board game, the purpose of which is to guess the pictures being drawn on the screen in a dot to dot fashion. If you know what the picture is, you have to guess the word to win the piece and move up a level. Complete the levels to win the game. It really is that simple. And that dull. Turning on this bad boy, after waiting what seems like an eternity to press start to skip to the menu and mashing the controller in the process, your presented with the option of selecting the number of players between 1-4, that’s represented by a teddy bear, horn, shoes or a duck-looking ice cream. Then selecting the computer players, and then finally the skill level from Easy through to very hard and then your on your way. The main difference in difficulty is that very hard for example you don’t even see the dots, you have to guess from the movements what the computer is drawing, which defeats the idea of a dot-to-dot game. I’d rather watch my 3 year old nephew high on e-numbers go crazy on an easel with paint and crayons. It’d be easier to guess what he’s drawing compared to this game.

Subconsciously, it’s reminding everyone to play Space Invaders instead of this

On the game screen you have to guess the word what is being drawn ever so slowly in a dot-to-dot fashion (to which they’re not numbered – a crime against all dot-to-dot puzzles). If you think you know what the crudely-drawn picture is, press the A button to bring up the letters along the bottom and type in the word, again oh so slowly. I never liked NES games that had the whole alphabet along the bottom which you had to select the letters individually, which is why board games never worked well on NES. You only have 30 seconds to write the word so prepared to get your best Track and Field fingers ready and mash that left and right button. Often your likely to mis-spell the word or confuse the word with something else that looks similar, and if you get 3 wrong attempts your blocked from the rest of the round, causing you to sit there whilst the other players enviously look on at you knowing you can do something else other than play this crap, like watch paint dry.

Trivial Pursuit has never looked more appealing

 

The colours are very bland and very black, and the graphics although bold, are not the most exciting you’ll find in the NES library. There’s lots of olive greens and brick reds, is perfect for the horticulturalists who play the game, but well-educated, professional people will be doing something more constructive than play this, they’ll be playing Trivial Pursuit, not guessing that a cola can is infact a soda pop can, or whatever the hell it is. To be fair, the music is pretty upbeat and jaunty, which is the game’s one redeeming feature, but with the sound effects sounding like something from an Atari game (which back then is no bad thing, but not for now) but if you liked the music you may as well put on a CD and turn this abomination off. The controls, well there is none, just pressing the A button guess your answer and moving the cursor along the row of letters when you guess.

Not even divine intervention can help this game

Since Anticipation came out, there has been a plethora of board games on home consoles, all of which will never do the real games justice. Board games are designed to be played in groups on tables with the physical pieces or drawing things in real life. Having your Nintendo draw the pictures is not as fun as it seems, and as it draws as quickly as a snail having coitus, there are plenty of other things to be doing with your time, like eating sandwiches with sewing needles inserted into it or playing a real game for the NES. This game truely ranks amongst the lowest of all the Nintendo games, for its dullness, crude drawings, fast timing slow writing answer-giving, and its all-round badness that makes you wonder why you brought your friends round to play it. If you have people over and want to play games, stick to the traditional routes of Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, hell break out the Nintendo for Ivan “Ironman” Stewart or 4-player Tennis, but steer well clear of this, if only to keep your role as entertainment provider at your next dinner party. I’m off now to salvage the friendships of those who had to endure this for the review of this game and placing this game where it truly deserves – at the bottom of the rubbish dump just above soiled nappies.

Rating – 0 out of 5