Bart vs The Space Mutants

Released: 1991/1992
Formats: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, GameGear, Mega Drive, NES, Master System and ZX Spectrum

If you haven’t ever played this game then you’ve at least heard of it – take another look at the list of systems it was released on. Pretty exhaustive, right? And people say that there are too many consoles around today…

After the incredible popularity of their Robocop tie-in, Ocean were looking to license everything remotely fashionable and turn it into a video game. The Simpsons were the hottest thing since the Teenage Mutant Ninja (or Hero, if you prefer) Turtles and so a video game deal was soon arranged. The developers could have easily made the yellow fellows star in a generic platformer but the end result turned out to be rather innovative.

Aliens – which weren’t Kodus and Kang, despite appearing in a Simpsons episode before the game launched – were planning to take over the world but needed several elements to complete their secret weapon. It was up to Bart to round these all up and defeat bosses along the way – which included the Baby Sitter Bandit, Sideshow Bob and Nelson – with the first level requiring Bart to collect purple items. Bart, who was armed with a pair of X-ray specs help to tell humans apart from the aliens, could also gain assistance from a member of the Simpson household during the boss battles by collecting words that spelled out their name.

You do kind of get the impression that the developers spent way too much time on the first level – it completely overshadows the rest. Prank calls could be made to Moe and ways to rid the world of purple included buying cherry bombs to scare off purple birds and setting off fireworks to destroy shop signs. Only the carnival level – in which Bart had to find balloons – comes near the same quality of the first level, thanks to having some mini-games.

One of the developers recently revealed in an issue of Retro Gamer that when they sent the finished version off to Matt Groening to approve, it came back with a note saying that everything was fine apart from “Bart’s blink being off center”. The developers weren’t sure what this meant so shipped it regardless. It wasn’t until later that they realized what Matt meant – during the animated intro Bart’s eyelids met in the middle when he blinks, instead of going all the way down.

If only there was some type of catchphrase from The Simpsons we could use here…