Put your shorts in a sandwich and grab your joystick!

The Simpsons: Bart versus the Space Mutants logo

OCEAN * Free with Cartoon Classics pack * 1/2 meg * Joystick * Out late Autumn

It had to happen. Move over Turtles, Bart's here. Ocean have snapped up the licence to convert the Simpsons game that appeared first on the Nintendo Entertainment System (as opposed to the coin-op).
Being the cynic I am, I presumed that Ocean would simply re-do Robocop with different graphics. After all, that's close to what they did with Batman, Total Recall, Navy Seals and pretty much every tie-in since time began. But the cunning devils have broken the trend and, just to make me look a pillock, have turned the Simpsons into a cracking little game with enough character to make it stand on its own.

The game has a truly incredible animated opening. In it, Bart sees a UFO land in his garden through his X-Ray specs and sets off to stop the Space Mutants from taking over Springfield. Throughout this clever opening scene the graphics are crisp and smoothly animated and the sampled speech is as clear as a bell.
Things don't go downhill from there either. The gameplay is fast and furious. From the very start the very start the player is presented with puzzles and aliens to solve and to avoid.

The view is side-on although the comprehensive moves available allow a significant amount of interaction with the backgrounds. The game also scores well in that it gives the user a number of different ways to fulfil the main objective. Bart must prevent the aliens from collecting the items necessary to build their planet-threatening ray gun.

On level one this means painting or covering up anything purple, and later levels offer such bizarre items as hats, balloons, exit signs and nuclear power rods, all of which must be removed, hidden or collected. The different ways to get these objects are never too obvious and some are fiendishly difficult, although he can make use of helpful items such as spray paint, rockets and catapults which he can buy with the coins that have been collected along the way.
Also available to help are the rest of the Simpsons. They can only be summoned by collecting enough proof of the aliens' existence to convince them to join the fray.

The action is non-stop and there are plenty of jokes along the way - for example, you can get Bart to ring Moe's Tavern and ask for Stu Piddidot or Al Coholic. The challenge that the game presents is quite considerable.
This is not a game that can be beaten easily. It should take even the most hardened joystick junky a fair while to get to the end of level one, never mind level five!

The graphics are beautifully drawn and the characters really do justice to the original cartoon, both in style and movement. The screen explodes with colour every inch of the way, looking for all the world like an episode of the toon.
Bart in particular is very well animated. Fans will be pleased to hear that his Lego person looks are faithfully converted to Amigavision. Although the majority of baddies are simple bouncing invaders, the programmers have remained faithful to Acclaim's original and have managed to squeeze in various characters from the cartoon including Nelson the bully, Marvin Monroe the mad doctor, Ms Botz the babysitter bandit and, as they say, many more.

The sound isn't bad - the tune is catchy but nothing more than a basic rendition of the series' theme tune. At least it's not that Bartman record! The sound effects aren't ground breaking, either, but in the thick of the action sound becomes secondary.

The game is certainly a joy to play and the programmers have generously given you three lives, although each life is capable of taking two hits. So that's really nearer six lives isn't it? Believe me, you'll need them.
The game is cleverly written so as to let you glimpse a new and tantalising section each time you play. The first time you play you probably won't do very much. The next time around you get the hang of dodging the aliens and maybe even getting some of the objects from them.
Carry on and you learn how to enter buildings to buy things. Then you reach the skateboard section and so it goes on. Just when you think you're about to eat your power pack in desperation (don't try this at home) you suddenly figure out how to get that elusive object or dodge that pesky alien and off you go again for the umpteenth time. This game could well cause many sleepless nights.

This review is becoming a bit like an advert for Ocean so I'll have to find something to moan about. Well, it is annoying that the whole game is totally joystick controlled. Apparently, if you push up and left you run faster, but more often than not you'll just jump diagonally and land on an alien.
The inventory is also quite hard to control and often results in unwanted selection of objects when you really wanted to move Bart down on his skateboard. But that's about it as far as moans go.

So it's official. The Simpsons is brill. It could have been a real cock up - look at the Turtles game - but Ocean have managed to duplicate the combination of laughs and gameplay that made Acclaim's original what it was. Who cares if I can't get off level one? I'm an underachiever and proud of it!


Some of you out there may be well aware that the character that is taking the world by storm, via BSkyB in Europe, started life with his family on The Tracy Ullman Show in America about four years ago.
Bart and his family were such a success that they eventualy got their own series. The rest of the marketing and T-shirt buying is history.
The only problem now is that Tracy Ullman is suing Fox Television for $30 million - what she calls "her share of the profits". I get the feeling that Fox Television won't pay up without a fight. This one could run and run.

The Simpsons: Bart versus the Space Mutants logo

Big name hunting can be a perilous task these days. Has Bart Simpson vs the Space Mutants survived?

Living on Sky TV has hardly earned Bart Simpson mass exposure, but the yellow peril is still popular. The Simpsons, it seems, can sell everything, from T-shirts to satellite dishes, a fact which led the more cynical members of the press (Damien included!) to voice doubts about the potential quality of the game. Bart himself may be an "underachiever and proud of it", but the game most certainly isn't!

Radical man
The Simpsons comes in console flavour, packed with Super Mario-style platform leaping, timing traps and hidden bonuses. Few console games have made the transition to computers with grace, losing their playability somewhere between cartridge and disk, but Bart retains his charm.

Bart, resplendent in garishly bright cartoon colours, has a simple mission - to save the Earth! Having watched aliens invade his back yard he sets out to become the saviour of Springfield. The aliens have 'bodysnatched' a whole bunch of people not only this but they have planted a number of baby monsters who bounce around on guard. The final part of the attack is far more subtle, the Space Mutants are building a super weapon! For this they need purple stuff and all manner of curious kit. Don't ask daft questions like why? This is the Simpsons and the logic is natural, even if it's not exactly sensible.

Bart, while leaping and running along a horizontally-scrolling town, has to spot the bodysnatchers in a They Live parody. Whenever he pulls on his X-ray specs he can see the tentacles looming out of what looks, in regular vision, to be a normal human head. Jumping on the head in question kills the 'proof' and wins him a gem. (Obviously jumping on the skull of a normal human is frowned upon and so costs Bart half a life). If enough gems can be grabbed then the other Simpsons can drop in one by one to lend a hand at the end of the level: and in force on Level Five.


The Simpsons isn't a brilliant game: it is a good game which uses its licence well

Don't have a cow!
Bart's platform leaping is a test of joystick dexterity and timing. And it's here that Bart really scores. The puzzles are simple but feature fiendish variations around a common theme. Well judged in distance and tempo, these push Bart's leaping and running abilities to the limit. They also ensure that even when a level has been explored inside and out, you'll still be leaning in your chair to encourage the sprite to safety.

Painting things 'unpurple' provides The Simpsons with its puzzle platform. Bart can grab spray cans and then use it to change a dangerous item's hue. Life, especially for Bartman, is never that easy because every item is guarded by a space mutie.

Certain items it seems are unreachable, even with the bravest leap. These have to be manipulated by remote means, forcing Bart to visit shops and buy and use tools to change their hue. All the active objects on a level have to be rendered safe if Bart is to proceed, again adding an extra tweak to the gaming process.

The Mutants are after purple kit on Level one. Later they hunt hats, balloons, exit signs and other weird items as Bart systematically stops them building a super weapon. Each requires different skills to keep and collect if the aliens are to be robbed of their ingredients.

Aye carumba!
Bart isn't perfect. The sprites are small, the colours retina-damagingly bright and a rendition of the Simpson's TV tune echoes throughout the entire game. These are niggles don't hinder the playing of the game, which is where Bart's strong points lay.

Above all else The Simpsons is highly playable. Its pretty front-end graphics demand you watch, then the well balanced gameplay cuts in. First, the puzzles intrigue while the timing tests add tension, then as expertise grows and the level's brushed aside, exploration and experimentation become possible.

The hidden bonuses and disguised traps are worth hunting for, as are the warp screens. There's even a safety net system, which allows observant players to recover from earlier mistakes. These features don't make Bart vs the Space Mutants stunningly original, just solid, with enough varied elements to ensure that attention is paid to each new screen.

The Simpsons isn't a brilliant game, but it is a good game which uses its licence well. It draws on the resources introducing 'real' Simpsons incidents. On top of this it has an addictive edge, even to folks who have never seen a living Bart in their life.


The Simpsons: Bart versus the Space Mutants logo

Der Vater bekloppt, die Mutter doof, Töchter dämlich und der Sohnemann eine wahre Landplage - kein Wunder, wenn diese Durchschnittfamilie in Amerika längst Kultstatus genießt! Seit kurzen hat die Zeichentrick-Serie ja auch unsere Fernseher erobert, aber für Bart ist das nicht genug...

...er will auch auf die Amiga-Monitore. Wer ihm dort zum ersten Mal begegnet, könnte glatt meinen in ein Konsolen-Game à la "Super Mario" gestolptert zu sein: The Simpsons ist eine Art Plattform-Actionadventure, bei dem Bart vier Level lang sämtliche Gegenstände beseitigen soll, die von bösen Weltraum-Mutanten zum Bau einer Superbombe verwendet werden könnten.

Im ersten Abschnitt gilt es z.B. alle rosafarbigen Objekte mit einer Spraydose umzufärben. Außerdem darf der sympathische Sprücheklopfer Goldstücke einsammeln, Shops besuchen, sich mit Klein-, Haupt- und Endgegnern "unterhalten" (mit familiärer Unterstützung), Skateboard fahren und das alles in sämtlichen Himmelsrichtungen.

Da man mit seinen Mitteln haushalten muß und viele der Gegenstände recht schwierig erreichbar sind, ist zudem strategisches Denken gefragt.

Leider spielt sich der Genre-Mix letzten Endes doch nicht ganz so toll, was an der überlegten Joysticksteuerung liegt: Rennen, schneller rennen, Hüpfen, Sprühen/Schießen und das Inventory sind halt ein bißchen viel auf einmal. Da ist es schon fast ein Glück, daß die Gegner zum Steinerweichen dämlich sind! Ansonsten kann man nicht meckern, die comicartigen Grafiken sind spitzenmäßig animiert, der Sound ist kein bißchen düdelig, und ein nettes Intro gibt es obendrein. Da haben wir schon viel schlechtere Lizenz-Games gesehen... (mm)


The Simpsons: Bart versus the Space Mutants logo

After the catastrophe of last year's Turtles game, expectations for The Simpsons weren't exactly high. So the finished product comes as something of a shock...

So here it is. Ocean's big licence for 1991. And - I might as well go ahead and say it - it's actually rather good. Certainly it looks as if all our worrying - based to a large degree on the past performance of last year's big name cartoon-licensed title - was for nothing. This is a fast, well presented, clear and cute little scroller - the office has echoed over the past week to the sound of people wandering over, watching for a few minutes, and then saying (with more than a hint of surprise in their voices), 'Y'know, it's actually rather good.'

So the ghost of the Turtles well and truly exorcised, let's take a closer look at the game that could well turn out to be this year's biggest hit. Only the foolish would deny that the bulk of the appeal is down to the strength of the Bart Simpson character - slightly over-exposed he may be, especially for someone who only a smallish proportion of the population have ever seen in his original TV-incarnation, but his bubble hasn't burst yet. Image Works may find they struggle a bit with their second Turtles game, however much of an improvement over the first one it may be - Bart is undoubtedly now the man of the moment.

He's a man who works particularly well in computer form too - he's just so easy to draw, for a start. Bright yellow, and with a pointy head, he provides a crisp and clear central image to what is generally a very clean looking game. Abandoning subtle shading, parallax scrolling and the like in favour of flat, bright colours, The Simpsons looks as much like a console product as anything I've seen on the Amiga.

Bart himself, while not the biggest sprite I've ever seen (the game doesn't scroll vertically, and since there's a fair amount of platform jumping to be done, he has to b a reasonably compact size for the screen to fit it all in) is constantly amusing, whether running around with a spray can, skateboarding, or knocking hats off the heads of innocent passers-by. He moves well too, running increasingly faster as you push the joystick in one constant direction, then sliding to a halt as you slow him down.


The bulk of the appeal is down to the strength of the Bart Simpson character

WHAT DO WE GET FOR OUR MONEY?
Well, first up there's an animated opener. Aliens explain that their fiendish plan is to disguise themselves as humans and fuel their machine-that'll-conquer-the-world (quite how it'll do that isn't clear) with raw materials collectable from all over Bart's hometown Springfield.

On the first level, for instance, they're collecting all the purple things they can find 'cos their machine runs from purple things (Look, I never said this had to make sense, okay?) while on the second level they've modified their creation and it's, erm, hats they're after.

Your job then, as Bart, is to make your way through Springfield, avoiding alien nasties and disguising, destroying or collecting as many of the things the aliens are after as possible. Level one, for instance, sees you walking, then skating, through Springfield on a mad rush to paint as many purple things a different colour as you can.

Faults? Well, there are some. The fact that you're spending a lot of your time collecting things, buying weapons or tools from various shops, and figuring out interesting ways to disguise or destroy the various objects you're after (you can't just spray all purple things for instance - you have to work out other ways to get rid of some of them) makes for what is actually a rather in-depth and challenging game - one that rather belies its simple, cartoony look. I suspect many younger Bart-fans are going to get hopelessly stuck.

Cycling through the objects in your inventory, putting on your sunglasses (which reveal who are real people and who aliens-in-disguise, in the style of the film They Live) and so on - all selectable via the joystick - I found slightly harder to access than ideal too. Still, perhaps that's just me.

Simpsons fans may be disappointed the rest of the family make such fleeting appearances in the game too - one of them gets to help Bart towards the end of each level if need be, then they all congregate for the big nuclear power station finale - but this is Bart's show. Having only seen a handful of the cartoons, it didn't bother me at all.

Most annoyingly for me though - though admittedly an integral part of the game - is discovering quite what constitutes a platform and what doesn't. At least you don't die when you fall off things, but it can be frustrating jumping onto what clearly looks like the sort of ledge you clearly shouldn't be able to walk along (washing lines, say, or bushes) are fair game. It really is a case of suck it and see - just don't take anything for granted.


I suspect many younger Bart-fans are going to get hopelessly stuck

TWO VERSIONS OF THE SAME SONG
The Simpsons comes in two versions - the one, packaged in a small cardboard box, that comes with the new Cartoon Classics Amiga bundle, and the normal street version. The copy reviewed here is the one from the bundle and the first to be completed, though, annoyingly, it'll only work on the new generation of Amigas. Presumably this is deliberate -a tactic to ward off large scale piracy of the bundled game before the standalone version of The Simpsons is available in the shops - but it's annoying.

Expect the street version of the game to be in the stores around the middle of September - if there are any real difference from this one (and we strongly suspect that there won't be) they'll be reported in a future True Stories. As it stands, it looks like the major difference will be that the stand alone one will come on just the one disk, lacking the impressive animated intro sequence - though why this should be the case is unclear - it seems slightly unfair on established Amiga owners, though of course it really has no bearing at all how much you'll enjoy the game.

One thing is for certain - The Simpsons has come at just the right time for Ocean. After tying their colours to the masts of a number of decidedly non-hit films (Navy Seals, Darkman, Night Breed) over the last twelve months, it's good to see them back on form - not just with a good, strong licence, but a good product spun off from it too.

Ocean's philosophy has always been along the lines that 'we don't sell software, we sell dreams', and here's where it looks to make some sort of sense. A hit in every sense of the word.


TALKING TO BARTMEN

The Amiga version of The Simpsons has been put together by Arc Development, fresh from their success with Activision's rather wonderful R-Type II conversion, Ocean's version of The Simpsons isn't based on the coin-op currently dong the rounds, but Akklaim's Nintendo NES version. I asked Paul Walker of Arc Why:

'I've no idea really - I think the Akklaim licence simply came up first. I haven't actually played the arcade machine myself - though a number of other people around here have - so I couldn't really comment on the differences at all.'

What was your basic approach to the product? You don't seem to have changed anything very much at all from the Akklaim version.
'No, we haven't - we thought the NES version worked so well we tried to reproduce it as closely as possible. People have asked us why we didn't make the little Bart character bigger, but we felt it would have harmed the gameplay. Thus everything's proportionally the same as it is on the Nintendo screen - one great advantage of keeping it like that is it means we don't need to much about with complications like making the screen scroll up and down to fit all the platforms on, say, and the game works all the better for that.'

The animated intro sequence wasn't on the Nintendo though, surely?
'No, it wasn't - that's all our own work. We're big fans of the cartoons and tried to make it as true to The Simpsons as possible. It took some time making sure Bart looks like Bart - he might look easy to draw, but getting him looking just right no matter what he's doing can be a real struggle.'

The only real complaint I'd have is that the game's a bit hard, especially for the really young Simpsons fans.
'You're right, it is pretty tough. Level two, where the aliens just don't move up and down, but bounce around the screen, is harder than level one, and by the time you get to level four it's a real bast. We made some of the platforms slightly bigger, in fact, to give you a bit more help. If you stick with it it's good though - there's a lot to the game, and I do think it provides real value for money.'


The Simpsons: Bart versus the Space Mutants logo

Aye Caramba! Having booted the Turtles out of the frame, Bartholomew J. Simpson and his oddball family have at last been pixellised. Sky's most popular import has won itself a legion of fans as dozens of dish owners tune in to watch Bart's antics every week.

In case you aren't familiar with the yellow-skinned family, Bart is the true star of the show as he wise-cracks and makes trouble throughout each episode, whilst avoiding recrimination from his parents Marge and Homer. Sporting the tallest hairstyle ever, Marge is Bart's long-suffering mother, and at the other end of the hair scale, baldy Homer works at the local nuclear plant and often comes home glowing as if he has OD'd on Ready Brek. Meanwhile, Bart's sisters Lisa and Maggie play saxophone and dribble a lot respectively.

The simplistic graphic style of Matt Groening's characters lends itself perfectly to an Amiga game, and the recently-released coin-op is winning scores of fans in this summer heat. However, Ocean have opted to convert the NES Simpsons and consequently the game isn't all it could have been.

Bart vs The Space Mutants (to give it its full name) is a six-stage arcade/adventure which opens with Bart witnessing an Alien invasion whilst confined to his room. The ape-like beings are taking over the bodies of local Springfield residents, so Bart jumps out of the window to single-handedly defeat their dastardly plans by collecting the many scattered objects they need to overthrow Earth civilisation - which, oddly enough, amount to balloons, pink things, and hats!

In addition, to add variety to Bart's collection duties, a number of sub-games line the route. Ranging from rifle ranges and balloon popping stalls during the Circus level to an alien-dodging skateboard sequence, these can be used to gain extra money bonuses with which Bart can stock up on Cherry Bombs and Rocket supplies.

Springfield's many shopping malls, streets, and fields are depicted as a series of horizontally-scrolling stages, with Bart taking centre-stage (naturally). However, although the backdrops are large and colourful, Bart himself is a major disappointment and is so small to be almost insignificant. Despite the diminutive size of Bart, though, Springfield is an attractive play area, which improves as the game is played through.

Bart starts the game with only a pair of X-Ray specs to aid him, and these, as with any other objects, are activated by selecting them from his inventory and pressing fire Using these glasses transforms the play area into a dull mess of sepia tones, but also allows Bart to see any aliens wandering around disguised as humans. Once he has found one of the sneaky creatures, he can revert them to their tentacle form by jumping up and down on their heads. If, however, a normal Springfield resident is accosted, one of Bart's three lives will be lost.

The Simpsons' NES origins give the game a rather poor look, with very little in the way of graphical finesse and even less in the gameplay stakes. Although this is a good conversion of the Nintendo game and contains some nice but unfulfilled elements, the Amiga's superior capabilities have been virtually ignored, and this makes the game look worse than it is. Collecting the objects is both tedious and frustrating, and the patrolling aliens often appear from nowhere, resulting in the often unavoidable loss of a life.

It's by no means the worst licence I have seen, but there is a lot of wasted potential here. If this is the best Ocean can do with a potentially hot licence, then they can eat my shorts.


BRAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!

The Simpsons love the goggle box. In one episode when the family TV set broke, Homer raised his eyes to heaven and pleaded with the almighty, 'God just give me one channel'- unfortunately, nobody was listening. With the media currently going ape over the yellow-faced family, several misconceptions have appeared. For instance, Bart's not the troublemaker he is portrayed to be in the press. Admittedly, he has a habit of dropping cherry bombs down toilets and he once sawed the head off the statue of Springfield's founder but that doesn't make him a delinquent! He's just misunderstood.

Bart's greatest influence is his dad, Homer, who teaches Bart the values of beer and brown nosing the boss. Despite these useful lessons, though, Bart's hero is Krusty the Clown. On the other hand, Lisa is nothing like her brother, and she prefers to study and play sax, and admires Bleeding Gums Murphy, Springfield's local music legend.


The Simpsons: Bart versus the Space Mutants logo

Having never seen The Simpsons on TV, Amaya Lopez thought she might find herself in deep, deep trouble when playing Ocean's first Simpsons game. So she carried into the games room a pair of X-ray specs, a pair of shorts and a large Fresian!

Who would have thought that a weird-looking cartoon character with even googlier eyes than Marty Feldman would attain such heady heights of fame and fortune? Bart Simpson is plotting to take over the world with his dolls, lunchboxes, pencil cases, bedspreads, socks, posing pouches... you name it, he's got one. He's had a number one record, a pop video and now he's even got his own computer game... there just seems to be no escape! (Just calm down and get on with the scenario. Ed.)

Right. The scenario, such as it is, is rather neatly contained on a whole disk's worth of animated intro, complete with digitised Bart speech. Bart lives in a (usually) peaceful little American town called Springfield. One boring night he's staring out of his bedroom window when an alien spaceship hovers over his back lawn and beams down some space mutants. Intent on world domination, these muties proceed to take over local inhabitants and set out in search of fuel for their Super Weapon. The fuel they require? Well, rather inexplicably, it's purple things (on level one). Your task is to stop 'em, and thus help Bart save the Earth over five levels of frenetic fun.

The problem is how to stop the alien intruders. Some things can simply be spray-painted another colour, but this doesn't always work, so you'll have use your ingenuity for the rest. The mutants aren't as stupid as they look - when Bart completes a level, they rather tiresomely modify their killing machine so that he has to chase after a different ingredient in the following level.

In the shopping mall Bart gets a hat fetish, collecting as many as possible and irritating the locals by swiping them off their heads. At the Amusement Park Bart must pursue balloons or burst them with his trusty slingshot (once he's found it). Then a sneaky trip to the Natural History Museum is in store, combined with a mad grab for any EXIT signs available with the aid of dart guns.
Finally, Bart will wend his way to then Nuclear Power Plant to collect all the fuel rods he can find, rush to the basement and put them back in the reactor.

Unfortunately, none of his family believes his tales of alien invasion. To convince them, he has to jump on the heads of humans who've been taken over by mutants!(?) Mutated, jelly-like creatures are then forced out of the humans, leaving behind a little disk thing which Bart collects as proof of the alien beings. But how does our little cutie know who's a real human and who's a mutie? By wearing his X-ray specs, of course, which you can select from the inventory.

Each time he collects a disk, a letter pertaining to one of the names of his family appears in the left hand corner of the screen. Once the name has been completely spelled out, that member of his family will help Bart in his battle against the end of level mutant.

Bart can buy useful items in shops to help him in his quest - whistle, magnet, wrench, key, rockets, etc. (He starts off with 10 coins to buy these items, but can collect more dosh along the way). He has friends to help him, but also has many foes (like Jimbo the biggest thug in school). And that, in a rather large nutshell, is that So... let's get radical...

Amiga reviewAmaya: Right, prepare for action.
Step one: Put on X-ray specs and laod game. Start avoiding the aliens, collecting spray and gleefully jumping on peoples heads. Avoid colliding with the mutants, thereby losing a life. Damn - that's one gone already! I'll just spray the purple bin... eek, I've just walked into that stupid boingy mutant. That's two down - I'll just reach for that new can of spray. Blast, I've tripped over an alien - I'm dead!

Step 2: Try getting into character to help your crap joystick skills. Practice saying "man" lots of times in irritating American accent. Start again after many tries, finally get onto the skateboard and manage to kill yourself by falling off..

Step 3: Scream "eat my shorts, man!" And start again. Die before even spraying first bin. Proceed to sheepishly stuff pair of shorts into your own mouth.

Step 4: Um... start again, this time positively pleading with your computer "don't have a cow, man". Manage to get further, but suddenly die by falling off a ledge into a horde of springy mutants. Start ranting and raving at computer. Start again. Die. Hurl large Fresian at computer.

Step 5: Repeat until three weeks later you realise all local farms have completely sold out of cows.

And that's the way it is with Bart vs The Space Mutants. It really is quite a tricky piece of joystick waggling - and that's to its credit. Bart is not a game you should play for the first time in front of your friends, but given time and practice it'll reap many rewards. A nice element for the pacifists among you is the fact you never actually straightforwardly 'kill' anything. Instead you have to be quite creative in finding out, for example, the way to reach exit signs in the Natural History Museum, changing the colour of the plant pots in level one or knocking peoples' hats off.

The game is full of (dare I say it) cute little touches like scaring the purple bird in the pet shop out of its cage and the appearances of members of Bart's family to help him. The graphics are well animated, with Bart stomping around, taking high, sproingy jumps. The 'dark screen' effect when he wears his X-ray specs is pretty neat too.

However, my main criticism would be the size of the sprites - particularly Bart himself. This is probably due to the fact that the game is exactly the same as Acclaim's 8-bit NES version, even down to the remarkably small sprite size. And of course there's the irritating American humour, such as when Bart makes his 'funny' hoax phone calls. But all in all, it would be unfair to deny that it's great fun to 'do the Bart' (man).


JUST WHO THE HELL ARE THE SIMPSONS?
Those of you in possession of one of those huge flying saucer thingies that clip rather unattractively onto the side of your house can skip this bit - you've probably seen The Simpsons on Sky One. But for the benefit of the rest of you without a satellite dish, here's the ZERO lowdown on the most peculiar-looking family in town...
The Simpsons: Bart versus the Space Mutants
  1. BART: Just look at that hair! Mum has evidently been at it with the pinking shears. The women are the only smart members of the family - Bart's, well... a bit of a thicke.
  2. MAGGIE: Coochie, coochie coo. My, what big eyes baby sister's got! Hardly surprising, then, that in public she's often mistaken for a Natterjack Toad.
  3. LISA: Just look at those eyes and that hair (and that mouth)! Sister Lisa has obviously inherited the strange unnatural family beauty. But would you date this girl?
  4. MARGE: Just look at those eyes (and that hair)! Radically independent mother Marge recently attended the Vidal Sassoon School Of Hairdressing as a 'model'.
  5. HOMER: Just look at those eyes! The Simpsons dad, Homer, has a personility not unlike Oliver Reed (His beer gut is an obvious sign). Definitely not a MENSA member.