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Bart vs. the Space Mutants: What Critics Said in 1991
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 25, 2014   |   Episode 86 (Show Archive)  

   

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants (NES)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Despite debuting in 1989, it took Acclaim two years to get The Simpsons on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The result was an unexpected mix of platforming action and graphic adventure puzzle solving. Were critics into Bart vs. the Space Mutants when it first came out, or were they turned off by the unusual gameplay? We dig through old issues of GamePro, Nintendo Magazine System, N-Force, Electronic Gaming Monthly and Nintendo Power for the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants
[ Company: Acclaim | Console: NES ]

GAMEPRO (April 1991)
5 out of 5

"Bart and his family have come out of the starting gate lookin' strong. There's so much to see and do (don't leave a single shrub, ledge, or garbage can unexplored), that you'll, without a doubt, get many hours of enjoyable gameplay under your belt. Besides, how could you resist helping the king of smart alecs prove he's not such a bad guy after all." -Abby Normal

NINTENDO MAGAZINE SYSTEM #1
88% out of 100%

"Enjoyable game-of-the-telly-show in which you guide Bart around the horizontally scrolling town solving puzzles and avoiding the baddies in an attempt to thwart the intentions of the marauding space aliens. Not exactly action-packed, but fun nonetheless."

N-FORCE #13
81% out of 100%

"Bart vs. the Space Mutants is a classic NES game. For both Simpsons aficionados and those who've only recently discovered the greatness of the cartoon series, it's a brilliant addition to your collection. Go out and buy it now."

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #20
8 out of 10

"The Simpsons combine a good mix of action with adventure. There are quite a few not so obvious objects hidden in the game and will take some thought to flush them out. It plays well and with the character recognition and humor built in, it will be a hit." -Ed

VIDEO GAMES & COMPUTER
ENTERTAINMENT (February 1991)
8 out of 10

"It had to happen eventually -- it was only a matter of time. The strange thing is that it took this long. Now you can sit in front of your TV on Thursday nights and click back and forth between channels saying, "It's a game! (click) No, it's a TV show! (click) No, it's a game!" The Simpsons have made the leap to the NES, courtesy of Acclaim, in Bart Simpson vs. the Space Mutants. Bart would probably be quite happy with his new starring role." -Joshua Mandel

NINTENDO POWER #23
3.3 out of 5

"Bart Simpson has finally made it to the NES from Acclaim. His adventure, though, is anything but a game for underachievers. This game is very challenging and could be frustratingly so to some players. The tasks that you must perform to complete the adventure require patience and skill."

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #20
6 out of 10

"The long awaited game left a little to desired. Although the challenge is there, lack of variety tends to hurt this otherwise funny concept. The most amusing part of the Simpsons is calling Moe's Tavern and reading the conversation. Still, it is a good adventure game ... for kids." -Sushi X
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 77% - As a kid, I was baffled by The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants. It neither captured the magic of the TV series nor felt like a traditional NES game. Looking back at it now, I'm impressed by some of the choices Acclaim took in translating the animated family to the home console. I still don't think the puzzles work, but at least it's not another Mario-clone.

Apparently most of the critics disagreed with me. While some noted the unorthodox approach, most magazines seemed willing to overlook any problem as long as they could hang out with Bart. A few went over the top. Perhaps the most hyperbolic was Video Games & Computer Entertainment editor Joshua Mandel, who seemed to suggest he couldn't tell the difference between the TV show and 8-bit game. Even at the time, The Simpsons wasn't a great looking game.

Oddly enough, it's Nintendo Power who seems the most critical of Bart's first outing. Although they highlighted some of the good things (it's not an "underachiever"), they brought up the frustrating difficulty and odd puzzle designs. Electronic Gaming Monthly echoed these sentiments, with Sushi-X giving the game a 6 out of 10. However, even with these low scores, Bart vs. the Space Mutants managed to average a so-so 77%.

ON WEDNESDAY'S EPISODE: Bart is back, and this time around he'll be taking on THE WORLD! Buckle up, because the Review Crew will tackle The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World. Will critics like this sequel even more than today's sci-fi adventure? Find out this Wednesday. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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