#571 – The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants

What a terrible waste.
I believe I will have a cow.
Significant sadness in this – and every – screenshot



DEVELOPER: Imagineering

GENRE: Action/Puzzle

RELEASE DATE: February 1991

For the first few years of the Simpsons’ television existence, the Konami-developed arcade title was the only good game based on the show. This meant that kids who longed to play Simpsons on a home console were stuck with crap like Virtual Bart and Bart Vs. The World, poorly made Acclaim-produced games that captured little of the show’s spirit. Bart Vs. The Space Mutants doesn’t fare better than those titles. It’s a crudely imagined puzzle-platformer hybrid, with awful controls and imperceptive direction.

Dig that sepia tone, man.

The premise is explained well enough in the title: Bart has to versus some space mutants, who are slowly taking over Springfield. In each of the five levels, Bart has to accomplish a random task, like removing all of the purple objects, collecting hats, popping balloons etc. Apparently, these items will aid the Space Mutants in their quest for… Springfield domination? For one of the smartest (at the time) shows on television, the plot is beyond lazy. The path to execute your objectives is often unclear or trial-and-error based. For example, in the first level, there are several purple flowerpots on window sills. Bart is trying to extinguish the color purple with his trusty red-colored spray can. Get up on the window sills, spray the flower pots, right? One would think, but in fact, you have to spray them from a certain angle. If you don’t spray them just right, you waste your limited spray and you’re screwed. At one point, you’re supposed to spray a policeman dressed in purple, but he walks quickly across the screen, and once he’s gone, he’s gone. It doesn’t matter if you die or walk away from the area to try and make him re-appear. You have to lose all your lives and start the game completely over to make that policeman saunter towards Bart again.

Surprised this slipped through Nintendo’s iron censor.

The controls in Space Mutants are a train wreck. Bart is slippery, and while he does have high jumps, it’s often hard to control him in the air. Because he’s unwieldy, simple tasks like jumping up onto a windowsill becomes a Herculean effort (throw some enemies into the mix and you’ll be weeping in your beard). Shuffling through your item menu with ‘Select’ isn’t an issue, but why do you have to use the item with ‘Start’? ‘Start’ is always the ‘Pause’ button, no exceptions (to pause Space Mutants, scroll through your items until you find Pause, then hit Start – ugh).

Aside from a few fun cameos (Ms. Botz!) and some in-jokes (“This is Moe’s Tavern…”), Space Mutants offers pittance for fans of the show and even less for those who know nothing of its once-subversive humor. Instead of making an imaginative title that both Simpsons fans and gamers could enjoy, Imagineering decided to go the extra mile and produce a game despised by both groups. Eat my shorts, indeed.


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10 replies on “#571 – The Simpsons: Bart Vs. The Space Mutants”

I just began the fun exercise of trying to predict your grade of a game, based on the title alone. For Bart and the Space Mutants, I predicted ‘D-.’
This is a truly horrible game. I like your grade of ‘F’ better.

F seems too harsh. This game is playable, has decent visuals, some originality, and can actually be fun if you have some patience and an FAQ. Seems like “F” should be reserved for those absolute unplayable pieces of garbage for the NES, of which there are far too many

Not harsh at all, this is an unplayable piece of garbage. The controls suck and he already mentioned parts of the game where it’s possible to get stuck and having to restart. Decent visuals mean nothing, looking at a FAQ while playing this trash is not my definition of fun.

I agree with Anonymous. This game is more D- quality than F, though it’s really just picking nits. I remember renting this game and being so excited to play it, naively believing they couldn’t screw up this license. I died about every ten seconds for a couple of hours and returned the game pretty quickly.

I kinda wonder what Matt Groening thought of the Simpsons NES games. I’m guessing he either peered over a giant pile of money and just said “Heh, how about that” or he totally approved of their awfulness for the ironic humor.

F is fitting for this. It is devoid of fun. My brother and I could barely get past the first stage… The mall I think is second, with the hats. We would get there and die, every time. Considering at the time The Simpsons arcade game was awesome I expected more from this title.


@Anonymous: Yeah, I’m sure Groening was quite content with the money he was receiving, considering the years he toiled away in cult obscurity with “Life in Hell.”

@Sleepyweasel: Yeah, I had this game when I was five and I couldn’t stand it. I tried so hard to like it too, but it was such poor game design. Bah.

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