If there’s one thing the Simpson’s games have brought to the world of gaming its money. From arcade cabinets to every known console known to man each either has their own Simpson’s game or one of many multiport releases. So it’s no surprise that the NES received one of the earliest and probably oddest games. I received this in exchange for several Retro Gamer magazines of which I’m sure some of you are horrified at the though of losing several issues from such a collection but after the publishers released the magazine compendiums on DVD it felt pointless to me to keep them. Besides I need the space for all my NES goodies!
From the picture I’m sure you can all see that the box is a bit tatty but the manual and cartridge are actually in very good condition. Released in 1991 prior to the entire X-Files craze it seems Bart is in a spot of bother. Space Mutants/Aliens are trying to take over Springfield and only Bart can see them thanks to his trusty X-Ray glasses. The aim of the game is to find all the aliens, beat the boss on each stage and basically save the world. No small order for a 10 year old.
Each level is populated by bouncing aliens that serve no other purpose to get in Bart’s way. Every so often you can use a different weapon (such as the spray can in level 1) to change the colour of purple objects which the Super Mutants can use to take over the world becoming sillier as the game continues with everything from hats to balloons. Bart controls really well and I don’t think the game would be playable at all if the character responded slowly to button presses. Super Mutants are usually in fixed positions floating up and down so pixel perfect timing is key though Bart can take a couple of hits before losing a life. Once you lose all 3 lives the game is over so players might want to make some real effort to grab those extra lives as they play.
The main question for Simpson’s fans is whether or not the game actually covers much of Springfield itself. In that regards the 2D world does a pretty good job of recreating downtown Springfield and the Power plant whereas places like the Shopping Centre seem a bit generic and thrown together. Which is a shame with so many guest stars appearing, all of the Simpsons are included as well as Barney, Grampa, Moe and Nelson the game world is populated with lots of characters but not the general level design/planning isn’t really up to much. The list just goes on and on.
Up to the time of writing this blog I barely made it to level 3, Krustyland. The game is difficult and with some skill need to avoid the aliens on numerous jumps. Having to be as a careful as a balloon in a pin factory is the games greatest fault with the frustration level reaching pad throwing levels throughout. Every level has its own theme playing throughout but not the most enjoyable of tunes they do the job well with the main title screen having the shows theme in a good rendition for an 8Bit system.
I’m still not sure what to make of this game. On one hand its too hard in places and even level 1 can be a tough nut to crack but there are parts like the prank call on Moe, the X-Ray spec vision that reveals humans to be Super Mutants and the way various members of the Simpsons family help out to the end of each level (assuming you collected each of the letters of their name mid level). There’s a lot of fun to be had if you can see past its fault but those with a short fuse might want to stay clear.