Bart Simpson? Isn't he one of those Teenage Neutered Turtle thingies? No? Oh well, I'm not totally up on all these cartoon so-called 'characters'. So, what's his problem then?
Well, it seems that Springfield, where Bart and his family live, has been invaded by space creatures who fancying taking over the Universe, (as space creatures do!) Their method of universe control is to collect everything that's purple. So what you, as Bart, have to do is wander around the place with a can of paint, spraying all the purple objects red (so the aliens can't collect them). It's got to be the most stupid since 'Stupid' Jack McStupid tried to eat the Houses Of Parliament for a bet in 1877.
ON ME HAT! ON ME HAT!
But enough of this banter. The game is a platformer (as you'll know if you saw the rather good Megapreview I did two issues ago) with Bart wandering around Springfield, spraying purple things and jumping on the heads of any aliens he meets. As they're disguised as humans, he needs to make sure his X-ray specs are in place (so he doesn't jump on any li'l innocent old ladies). In Level Two he's got to knock the hats off the aliens, in Level Three he has to pop their balloons with his catapult. In Level Four he's got to fire his dart gun at lots of invading exit signs and on Level Five he's got to collect all the radioactive cells inside his dad's nuclear plant. Bit tricky, eh?
Bart can run or walk left and right and can jump or bounce on certain objects. He'll need to use all these moves to get to some parts of the screens - let me tell you that the whole thing gets very difficult. Instead of just travelling to the right Bart has to go back and forth collecting all the objects he missed the first time.
Ocean have gone for the overlapping screen flip. Don't worry, I'll explain this rather worrying technical term (cos I know what it means). It means that the screen doesn't scroll, it jerks onto the next bit you see. It works really well and as the screen flips you can get some nasty surprises, like millions of aliens. (Not exactly a surprise anymore is it, James? Ed)
There are loads of objects to collect, the easiest way to do this is to jump on a few aliens' heads and collect the coins that bounce out. Then spend them on whatever you need in the shops that you pass on your journey. You can buy rockets, cherry-bombs and loads of other dangerous goodies, all of which you need at some point.
The coins are also useful because every time you collect one you get one letter of the name of another Simpson. For example, on Level One you need six coins and you get the letters M-A-G-G-I-E. Then Maggie, Bart's sister, appears and gives you a helping hand. It's a stonking idea and, boy, you can sure use that help! Later levels have Lisa, Homer and Marge turning up to help you out. And on Level Five the whole family turns out to get rid of those pesky aliens once and for all! Hurrah for the brave Simpsons!
ARCADE ACTION AS WELL?
By jingo, yes! Well, sort of. At the end of Level One there's a quick scrolling bit where Bart gets on his skateboard. He whizzes along, belting through the screens. There isn't much scenery, so the update is really quick and every now and then little dogs, aliens and other things appear on the path. You've to time your jumps so that you miss everything, as you're not really given any warning about what'll be in the way. And it's a razor-sharp reaction type thing. And it's also a lot of fun (especially when you're not expecting it. Er, except that you - 'cos I've just told you!)
ANY PUZZLEY BITS IN IT?
Well read on. Level Three has also got a different sort of game included in its fiendish levels. This is cared Dizzy Doors, and there's got nine different-coloured doors which you've got to open in the right order so that they're all the same colour. Yes, yes, I know it's complicated, but think of it like one of those slidey puzzles you get at Christmas (only a heck of a lot more fun) and you're on the right lines.
The idea of putting different sub-games into The Simpsons is pretty inspired, and makes the game even more fun. As you can tell, I'm really into this game. As far as I can see, it's got everything it should have. It's fast, it's easy in places and dead wicked in others and it's got a massive amount of variety. What more could you want? (How about an EMF soundtrack? Ed) The graphics are very cartoony, as you'd expect and there's pots of colour. Bart himself is actually see-through, so you can see him when he walks in front of yellow things. It's great making him walk past green things 'cos he looks like he's about to throw up! And, if you look at them closely, you can see him blink and do other cartoon-type things. Nice touch that.
So. I'm putting on my special Megagame hat, tying my Megagame laces and giving The Simpsons a - wait for it - Megagame. You see it's just so big, so varied and such a larf that I'd be a fool if I didn't. So there. Now go and buy a satellite dish so you can watch it on TV as well (Alternatively, just turn to page 35 and try and win one. Ed) Cowabungea, pizza-dudes! (As they say in The Simpsons, I believe.)
The Space Mutants have decided to take over the Earth by making a super-weapon, and it's Bart Simpson's job to stop them. Oh, was that the plot? Sorry. I nearly missed it.
Anyway, the aliens need various objects to build their machine - such as purple objects, hats and balloons. The only time it even gets remotely sensible is when they start using nuclear power rods. The only way that Bart can see the Space Mutants that have infested the planet is using some X-ray specs (which make the screen a natty white-on-black affair) - They Live', anybody?
Unfortunately, the game plays none too well. Ocean (and Acclaim) seem to have missed the mark with this one. It's just too dam hard to control Bart! He moves quite fluidly across the screen until you start jumping around, and then you realise that he moves just too fluidly. It's nearly impossible to jump over the bad guys with any degree of accuracy, so your three lives (which spookily actually appear to be six) don't last very long. Some of the puzzles are a bit too hard as well - namely because the instructions don't tell you really important things like when you set off a rocket, you have to run into it to launch it. The control method is way too hard as well, using various combinations of joystick moves, ignoring the well-stocked keyboard at a stroke. Why are we forced to put up with this? (Spook fact: ignore the instructions when they say 'joystick only' - it's perfectly feasible to use keys! Just press SPACE on the main screen and there you go.)
So, not a very well put together game at all. Looks nice but is saddled with fiddly, repetitive gameplay. Ho hum.
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