Saturday, 23 October 2010

Old Codger's Corner: The Simpsons - Bart Vs. The Space Mutants (Amiga, Acclaim/Ocean)

Having been a gamer for the best part of 23 years, I've played many great games: Rescue on Fractalus, Beach Head, Rambo and Space Hulk to name a few. but, when I first got my Amiga waaaaay back in 1990-ish, it came with Captain Planet (bollocks.), Lemmings (pure magic), Deluxe Paint 3 (how many pictures can you draw where all the faces say Arse?) and The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants. Playing Craptain Planet (so called because the game is shit) first, I thought hopefully the rest aren't like this. And, luckily, BVTSM wasn't.

Half way through loading, you're greeted with one of the most impressive 16bit intros I have ever seen. Featuring the voice of Bart, Nancy Cartwright (it might only be some sound bites, but it's still impressive), the animation is of a high quality and looks like it could have come from an episode. Bart's in his bedroom through being grounded. Whilst staring through the window out of boredom, a spaceship hovers in his back yard, beaming down two aliens in human form. Bart finds a pair of shades to shade his eyes from the brightness of the transporter beam, but, through the glasses, finds out that it just a ruse, and that they're aliens (a nod to They Live right there!). Climbing out of his window, he has to find a way of enlisting the help of his family in stopping the aliens plans of invasion of Earth. Obviously, because of his many pranks, his family doesn't believe him, so has to go around, stopping the transformed aliens, and collecting proof of their existence to enlist their help with the end of level bad guys. 

The objectives of the levels change from level to level. On the first, the aliens are after purple objects, so Bart has to go around and cover them up, or spray paint them red to stop the aliens from taking them. The Springfield Mall level requires you to destroy hats so they can't be taken, and so forth. Upon find the mentioned earlier 'proof', one of the members of The Simpsons clan will appear at the end of the level to help you. The family member doesn't change with every play, but stays the same. Maggie helps on the first level, Marge helps on the second, Lisa's on hand for the third, Homer comes to your aid in the forth, and all four help in the last level. The levels change from the Springfield, to the shopping centre, the museum, the amusement park to the final level which is the Nuclear Power Plant, each with it's own hazards.

The graphics are nothing short of excellent, and highly detailed, even thought the MD version has more in the background, but are still impressive. The aliens themselves have a 'Simpson'-ness about them, with the same round eyes and bulbous heads. The level design is really fiendish, especially the Amusement Park and Museum levels, the latter of which to this day I have never gotten past. Sometimes, you do find yourself fighting the controls, especially  trying to do the long jumps. To this day, I've never been able to pull one off on purpose. You can also buy stuff from the shops with coins that you can find throughout, like paint cans, fireworks and keys, which you can use in various levels. You can also use the X-ray specs to find out who's human and who's not. Once you find out, you can jump on their heads and collect the proof.

Games back then were made hard, either unintentionally or otherwise, and that was part of the games charm. Yes, the graphics were great, the music and sound effects were awesome, but boy was the game frustrating. Gamers today have it too easy. Games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty Modern Warfare last roughly 5-6 hours, and are easy, even on hard. This was a fiendish game, with no option to change the difficulty level. That's what makes older games attractive. And I wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. It took me an age to find out what to do on this game (I was young and *ahem* had no instructions), but I really enjoyed it. Interesting how Bart was the focus of Simpson's stuff back then, whereas nowadays Homer is more popular.

    Nice adaptation of the soundtrack by Jonathon Dunn, too.

  2. I never played this one, it always looked a bit ploppy to me. Maybe it's time to give it another chance :)

  3. Give it another go. Trust me. There is a good game underneath.