Tony Wilkins reviews “Bart vs. The World” on the Sega Master System
The advent of the home game console in the 1980s brought with it a new market waiting to be exploited for many franchises and The Simpsons was no exception. These days The Simpsons are like street lights; they’re a part of life but not really having a major influence on us but back in the early 1990s they were the hottest thing out there defining a generation of young people. The comedy threw the traditional family structure like that in most sitcoms of the 1980s upside down with the children taking a strong center stage often to the detriment of the parents who in other shows were seen as teaching their offspring life lessons. In The Simpsons the parents had just as much to learn as the children. Everyone in it was deeply flawed but always trying to overcome those flaws. This is probably why The Simpsons were so successful; people related to them. I remember hearing the phrase “our family is like The Simpsons” all the time growing up in the early 1990s.
So with this in mind how did The Simpsons fare on the game console? In truth not great but not terrible either. There were many games for the Sega and Nintendo consoles that were off the back of movies or tv series but they rarely had anything to do with them. Some of this was down to the limited technology available while some of it was simply down to developers looking to make a quick buck by placing a popular character in to a generic video game. Given that at the time The Simpsons storylines focused on generally everyday problems but in a comical way it didn’t give developers a lot to work with. Instead they had to come up with grandiose storylines to justify a 2D scrolling game in the traditions of “Super Mario” and “Alex Kidd”.
The storyline follows Bart Simpson as he travels around the four corners of the Earth on a scavenger hunt organized by Krusty the Clown. However Mr Burns is out to stop him and has called in a few family members to help (these becoming the boss at the end of each of the four stages). The four stages are China, the North Pole, Egypt and Hollywood and these are mostly platformers with the odd skateboard level where the main goal is to avoid people, holes and other obstacles. As well as the main story mode there are two mini games for each stage such as a card game in which you have to match pairs of cards with Simpsons characters on them. Others include a picture teaser where you have to arrange blocks of a picture of Bart so they are in order while later you get trvia questions about the early episodes of the show.
“Bart vs The World” was actually the second game of the franchise to be produced by Acclaim for the NES and the Master System. The first was “Bart vs The Space Mutants”, an often frustrating affair with its clumsy controls and less than smooth gameplay. The Master System version was published by Flying Edge which also published “Bart vs The Space Mutants” as well as a few of the later games. The game was originally released on the NES in 1991 before it was ported on to the Master System in 1993.
“Bart vs The World” builds on the original game being a much more user friendly experience. Acclimatizing to this game was quite easy but the in-game physics of controlling Bart remain troublesome. The artwork isn’t stellar but maybe that was deliberate with the colours being very close to how the show was drawn in the early 90s so it doesn’t feel as disconnected as the “Ghostbusters” game for the Master System did.
As I have said in previous reviews however; strip away The Simpsons stuff and get it down to its bones and you are left with a rather average game. Although I would say it is not as good as this one I think that “Bart vs The Space Mutants” is the 8-bit Simpsons game everyone will remember because it came out first and had a more aggressive marketing campaign with a commercial for it at the beginning of every VHS cassette containing Simpsons episodes.
Thanks for reading…