Review by The Manx

Reviewed: 06/28/04

I'm toastified, man

The Simpsons has always been a very popular franchise. And like any very popular franchise, a bunch of video games, usually varying from middling to unplayable, sprang up based on it. In Simpsons' case, the first was this anemic little effort called Bart vs. the Space Mutants.

See, Bart somehow got these x-ray specs that really work, and was able to see through the disguises of aliens posing as human beings. They've invented a machine with which to take over the world, but it needs fuel. Specifically, purple objects. So Bart has to go downtown, get rid of everything purple, and then take out a boss bad guy before moving on to the next level.

There's various ways to get rid of purple things but almost all of them require Bart to find a spray can and paint them red. Problem being that you have to be in exactly the right spot when you spray a garbage can or movie poster for your spraying to have the desired effect. Furthermore, it's hard to tell if you have to spray the object for a certain amount of time. And there's only so many spray cans lying around. It's pretty annoying.

For the first level at least, however, Bart vs. the Space Mutants isn't that bad, and lets Bart really strut his underachiever stuff. He can play phone gags on Moe, or ignore a keep off the grass sign, or open up a fire hydrant. All of those are things Bart Simpson would do, and all of them must be done in order to succeed. Unfortunately, despite the Simpsons settings, the chance to act like Bart and get away with it ends after the first level.

But getting back to the actual game, in each level people will pass Bart on the street. By using his x-ray specs, he can see if they're aliens or actual people. Stomping on the head of an alien leaves behind "proof" that aliens are around. When he gets enough proof (one for every letter in one of his relative's names), Bart will be helped by one of his family members during the boss battle. I'm not sure what that proof is supposed to be. It looks like a blinking circle with an "o" inside of it. Actually, I know exactly what that is. It's an icon in a video game. No more, no less.

Anyway, once Bart has foiled the evil plot for the aliens to gather purple objects, it would seem that the world is saved. Nope. A few tweaks here, adjustments here, and their take-over-the-world machine is ready to run on even more unlikely power sources, like hats (and apparently the people at Springfield mall are the only ones wearing them), or balloons, or "exit" signs. Bart has to go to numerous other places to stop the evil plot, but none of them offer the prepubescent vandal hijinks that the first level does. Instead it becomes a typical platform game where he jumps on whirling platforms over wet cement or fights a dinosaur in the museum. My big question about that is how does Bart know what the aliens are after and where to go to stop them? Does he sneak into their hideout between levels to spy on them? If that's the case, why doesn't he wait til they leave to steal hats or balloons and then jut find some way to wreck the take-over-the-world machine? Because the game says not. *sigh*...

Bart can pick up and use inventory items, but this can make switching through everything and getting to his x-ray specs in time when somebody walks by frustrating. Control also feels loose and a bit unresponsive, making the obstacle courses where Bart has to make a series of tricky jumps more annoying than they should be, or would be if the game received your input a little better. Also, he can take just one hit before another one kills him. What's the point of such a short life bar?

Graphics are primitive, with Bart's arm being a yellow line that waves back and forth as he walks, and his eyes disappearing right off his head when he blinks. And guys, really, we all recognize the Simpsons theme song, but it's only good when it's on for 30 seconds before the show starts. Not when I'm listening to it for ten minutes straight.

So much more could've come from a game about the Simpsons, if they had made every level like the first one. Stick to the arcade game if you've got to play a game that puts you in control of America's most nuclear family.

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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