Amstrad Action

The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants

Author: Adam Peters
Publisher: Ocean
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #76

The Simpsons

"Yo, my name's Bart Simpson, what's yours? Never mind, I don't really want to know. Listen up. Aliens have invaded my hometown of Springfield. Bad news, huh, dudes? Anyway, I've got to try and get rid of them, which ain't going to be easy."

"You see, they plan to take over the whole Universe. And to do that they need to, er, collect purple objects. Don't ask why man, just take it as read. Or red. There's these spray cans lying around, you see, which I can use to spray purple objects red. Caralumba!"

"It's dead important I stop these dastardly aliens in their purple-gathering tracks. Just spare a thought for poor (well not very poor at all really) diminutive pop star Prince. One minute safely curled up in his luxurious mansion. the next standing naked in an empty field. It's down to me to spare him that indignity."

The Simpsons Bart Vs The Space Mutants

"Some things I can't actually get close enough to spray, so I've got to think of some other way to hide their purpleness. Like dropping things on them or, er, firing rockets at them. Sometimes when I jump some money appears, and if I collect it up I can buy magnets and rockets and stuff, which will be dead useful to me in my struggle. Except most of them I don't need, and they all disappear when I get to Level Two, but there you go."

"There are some nasty bad guys out there man and I've got to avoid 'em. Some of them have disguised themselves as humans. Using my X-ray specs (pushing down on the joystick) you can see who's a real person and who's a slithery spider-like dude. If it's a spider, jump on its head, man. If it's a person, don't, or I'll lose a life."

"I've got four lives in all, and there's a selection of restart points. It's a bit of a tough challenge, actually, dudes. There's so many screens to wander through, and a lot of tricky puzzles to sort out. It'll keep you up way past bedtime, but then bedtime is for wimps, right?"

The Simpsons Bart Vs The Space Mutants

"As well as money, there are other coin-like things flying around. Each one I collect, a letter will appear at the bottom of the screen. If I collect all the letters of their name, then one of my folks will show up. Or at least they're supposed to. Maybe they're busy doing something else."

"Cos I'm such a radical dude I can jump on platforms that no-one else can see. I can bounce up and down on dustbins too (er, which is also quite useful). And I can do some pretty snazzy big jumps as well."

"There are five levels for me to pit myself against, and some of them are very big indeed. Don't have a cow, man (sheep are much better). Just remember, I'm doing this to save the Earth, the Universe, and, er, other things. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. Eat my shorts. (Bring plenty of ketchup.)"

What's Wrong With The Simpsons?

The Simpsons Bart Vs The Space Mutants

At first glance, The Simpsons looks like exactly what it is - a mid-'80s style jumping collect-'em-up. Not the sort of game you expect in this day and age.

The first level is quite fun, as you hunt out purple objects to cover (Hint: the spray can or rocket will deal with all but three of them). The flower pots are quite tricky to get at, but you can get away with leaving one of them unsprayed.

All this jumping on the bad guys' heads business is so passé [Don't you use words you don't understand! - Ed] it's almost sad, but there you go. The whole thing is just a combination of Technician Ted and Everyone's A Wally, two games that were brilliant back then but outdated now.

The Simpsons Bart Vs The Space Mutants

And where are the other family members? They're supposed to show up once you've collected all the letters in their name. But they don't. Which makes jumping on disguised aliens' heads a complete waste of time and effort. Humph.

Level Two is sad. You need to collect 22 hats. These are scattered all round the shopping mall, and also on the heads of the people and aliens in disguise who wander past. Stand outside the fruit shop and jump on the head of each alien who leaves (use your X-ray specs here), and pretty soon you've got the 22.

The graphics and sound, meanwhile, are distinctly second-rate. OK, so The Simpsons is a conversion of a Nintendo game - Nintendo games characteristically feature small sprites and blocky, big backgrounds - but surely it could have been made to look better than this?

The Simpsons Bart Vs The Space Mutants

The gameplay? Six or seven years past its best-before date, unfortunately. The whole thing is like a scrolling platform adventure of yesteryear, and the sort of thing we'd expect to see in a budget game, not a full-price release. Still, Ocean was hamstrung by the format of the original game - The Simpsons is actually quite faithful to that original.

If it wasn't for that yellow chap and his edible shorts though, this would struggle to sell a single copy. Sorry, but we didn't like it.

On The Level

Bart Vs. The Space Mutants was the name of a particular episode of the TV series. This game takes ideas from several different episodes though. Here are the five levels:

Level One. Springfield
You start off wandering the streets of Springfield, jumping on aliens disguised as humans, and trying not to walk into aliens disguised as aliens. You need to re-paint, cover, or otherwise get shot of, all the purple things you stumble across.

Level Two. The Shopping Mall
Now the aliens have decided that hats will work just as well as purple objects in their plan for Universe domination. So you've got to wander the mall, collecting hats hanging in mid air and jumping on disguised aliens' heads again (yawn!). There's a few tricky obstacle-avoiding and platform-jumping bits on this section. (Getting across the mall pool is particularly trouble-fraught.)

Level Three. The Circus
In this stage you have to burst the balloons the aliens are flying in. Er, because balloons are a good substitute for hats and purple things in the intergalactic ones' big plan (sigh!).

Level Four. Natural History Museum
One of my mates has just got a job in the Natural History Museum [Thank you for sharing that with us, Adam! - Ed]. No doubt he has already begun shooting darts at all the exit signs. The aliens want to... well, we think you can just about work out the idea by now.

Level Five - Nuclear Reprocessing Plat
Nuclear fuel rods. Nuclear fuel rods? Untold screens of nasty-dodging pass, and finally the extra-terrestrial slimies are after something that might conceivably be of practical use to them. Hurrah! It's the plant where Homer (Bart's dad) works. Young Bart has to collect all the rods and bung them in the basement. Rodabunga! Er, and if you can do that then you've won. Probably.

Second Opinion

The Simpsons is a conversion of a blockbusting (we assume!) Nintendo game. Well, it didn't bust too many blocks in our office. The game style is really old-fashioned.

First Day Target Score

Finish Level One.

The Verdict

Graphics 61%
Tiny sprites and hammer-and-chisel (crude) backgrounds.

Sonics 54%
A few "tchoo" noises, and not much else!

Grab Factor 78%
The fact that it's Bart you're controlling adds to the appeal...

Staying Power 60%
...and there's certainly plenty of game there size-wise.

Overall 55%
This belongs in 1985. More a regression than a progression.

Adam Peters

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