The one thing I did growing up more than play videogames was watch the Simpsons. So when I finally convinced my parents to buy me Bart vs the Space Mutants, I was the proverbial pig in shit.
Sadly, over time and through a number of reviews BvtSM has come to be seen as one of those god awful NES games that time should forget.
So, is BvtSM any good?
Short answer, no
BvtSM isn’t a good game.
BvtSM is a platforming game where you need to collect a set number of items on a level, before facing off against a boss. There will usually be more items than you need so while some of the items can be very difficult to find, you can ignore a couple of the more difficult items unless you’re score hunting.
Each level has you collecting strange items that the Space Mutants need for their fiendish plot, the items don’t make sense, but this isn’t really a problem as BvtSM is a platforming game, you collect shit, that’s what you do in a platformer when not platforming.
Is it as bad as people say?
Not really, I have played some stinkers, Bubsy 3d, Sonic Adventure, Spice World, and Superman64 all come to mind and BvtSM isn’t anywhere near as bad as those. These games are either completely broken, or terrible half finished tie-ins.
OK, the controls are sloppy, the platforming is off, and the music is awful, but I have played far worse.
It is very hard to control Bart, the jumping ( or running) isn’t as smooth as it is in any good platformer. Bart will get bizzare speed boosts while jumping, running faster isn’t as simple as just holding down run/jump button.
If you’ve played BvtSM, you will probably know and hate the lollypop things you jump onto on level 2. But for those that don’t, some of the pixels you aim for don’t have collision detection, so you’ll fall through the platform. All of which can be VERY frustrating, but is fine once you learn the games “rules”. I said in the Lion King review that the platforming in that wasn’t as bad as it was here, well I was wrong. The Lion King is actually worse than BvtSM, but still nowhere near as broken as in Bubsy 3d or Sonic Adventure.
The music is terrible. Like the Simpsons theme? You won’t after playing this for more than 10 minutes. You get a 15 second loop of roughly a 3rd of the theme ENDLESSLY looped for the ENTIRE game and it never lets up. Well it does, Level 2 and 4 have different music, but again, that is a short loop. (Soundtrack on YouTube)
Other, less complained about features are the length of the levels. There are only 5, but each level is LOOOOOOOOONNNNNGGGG! they take 10 minutes to complete if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t it will take much longer since finding all the items needed to progress is a real schlep.
It means there is a lot to discover, and that there are a lot of secrets scattered around, which is a good thing, but the levels really needed to be much shorter.
So what stops it being “terrible”?
It is the attention to detail that works for me. The game was released in 1991, so the second season of the TV was airing during development, and the show hadn’t especially found its feet at this point. But most of the tropes that start to emerge in the golden age of the Simpsons can be seen here. Somebody vs something; Bart’s prank calls; Bart’s rivalry with Nelson, and Skinner; Maggie being more useful than she appears; locations such as the Bowl-a-rama; the retirement home. There are loads of things, and BvtSM crams it all in.
Once you get used to the controls the game starts to work better, but I do believe you shouldn’t have to get used to controls and they should just work.
So yeah, BvtSM isn’t good, but I can see some merit in the game.
I have played much worse games, but it still isn’t really worth your time playing. The only real joy you’ll get is from the game are the nods to the TV series.
Pros: subtle nods to show
Cons: Controls, levels are overly long, the fucking theme!