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Simpsons: Virtual Bart

Genre: Puzzle Developer: Sculptured Software Publisher: Acclaim Players: 1 Released: 1994

Good Simpsons games exist, I swear! They just took about twelve to fourteen years after the series’ debut to appear (excluding the arcade game). While they do exist, they are not necessarily the greatest to play. The Genesis held a few of its own during its time. Games like Bart’s Nightmare and Bart vs. the Space Mutants tried, but not all that hard really. Virtual Bart is a title that was actually released a few years after those, more towards the end of the Genesis’s life.

What we seemed to have is a sketch book game, six ideas that’ve been sitting around a sketch book since the early ’90s. Not horrible ideas, mind you, but nothing to generate a full game around. So instead we get six mini-games, set around a story line of Bart going to a science fair and being caught in a virtual reality machine (hence the title). You can either have this story chosen for you randomly or just go to practice mode. The six mini-game are as follows (the names are in no way official. I just have these in as place holders):

Tomato Toss: Easily the best of the bunch and the most linear as well. You’re Bart standing behind objects as he tosses tomatoes and eggs at his various classmates and teachers before class picture day. Sounds simple, right?

What makes this the best out of the six is its simplicity. There are no horrible jump controls or glitchy graphics, just a game of timing. As you hide behind whatever object is close, you have a power meter than runs along the bottom of the screen under the unsuspecting students (and occasional teacher). Wherever you selected, Bart makes the throw and would in theory hit the student. But for the most part, you’ll miss. Oh, how you’ll miss. As you eventually take out the assorted students, more students appear, but now walking speeds come into the equation. Ralphie is slow (heh) while Lewis (the black kid who was ignored after season two or so) is real hard to go for.

You also have the option of moving your shot left and right, but this is more of a tilt than a full direction. No matter where you try to throw, Bart is always in the middle, so putting different degrees on your throws is a bit challenging. With enough practice, you should be able to get the entire class (along with a distracted Mrs. Krabapple and Mr. Skinner) absolutely ruined for class picture day. It’ll be a tough time of practice though.

Bart the Dinosaur: I’m sure it looked good on paper. Turn Bart into a dinosaur and have him hop and tail whip assorted other dino’s along with various characters from the series as cavemen who want to hurt Bart in ways that include running back and forth…..and randomly attacking the air…..and if you happen to be hit so be it. The game isn’t the worst, but still, it sucks pretty bad. Even with a “roar” button that is supposed to clear the screen, you’ll be defeated not by your enemies but by the inability to jump simple platforms without falling thirty feet back to where you started. For some reason, Bart the Dinosaur got almost none of the effort put into the tomato toss game. It has a nice look to it, and the sounds are pretty nice, but the hit detection and your jumping controls just make you want to find the nearest soft thing and throw it at the nearest hard thing. Overall, once you die the first time in Bart the Dinosaur, you simply thank whatever supernatural force you believe in and go on to the next game.

Waterslide: It’s hard to find a game that you could possibly hate more than the others on a multi-cart, but I think I’ve done it! What we have here is Bart going down a very large and long Waterslide while avoiding beach balls and other kids. Along the way you encounter corn dogs and Homer’s ass. That’s it; I’ve described the entire game. Eventually, there is a proper route to get to the end of the game, but it just doesn’t feel worth it.

Mach…..BartRider: Fly down the open road in a post-apocalyptic world while fighting off various bullies from the series. All in all, it’s not the worst game in the pack. In fact, I would probably give it a ranking of two or three out of the six. Even with its obvious references to games like Road Rash and MachRider, you still get a feeling of actually wanting to play the game, which not everyone here can accomplish! You want to see what it’s like at the end of the road, what happens when you reach the city.

But even with all of that going for it, it falls short and is still a sub par game.

Baby Bart: Wow, it’s like they tried to make a game to piss you off! You start off with Bart, who happens to be an infant this time around. Bart has been put to sleep for his mid-day nap, but he just can’t sleep! He decides to jump out of his window and start doing acrobatics around tree branches! It seems simple enough, but it also seems your mind can be deceived here.

Bart spins around, time to jump to the next branch! Ooh, I missed. Oh well, I’ll just land from that two inch fall and make my way up. What the hell, my head’s missing! So, the ground is lava now? Wish I was told that. Oh well. Hmm, a squirrel; He seems to be my enemy today. Maybe I can just avoid it. Nope, he’s hit me. There I go! Let’s try again! Okay, there’s the squirrel… do I even have a weapon?

A pacifier! I just spit a pacifier! From somewhere on my body! It’s dead! The squirrel has disappeared in a cloud of dust! Thanks for the lead toys China! Now let’s continue hopping! I’ve fallen because Bart can’t jump for crap! I quit.

Bart is a Damn Pig: I actually enjoy this one, and getting ahead makes actually for a good ten minutes! This time you’re in one of Krusty’s Foods Inc. factories, only this one happens to manufacture a SPAM-like comestible. Instead of going along with the rest of your pig brethren to the slaughter, you decide to fight the system! After realizing the somewhat more than simple controls, you’ll be jumping and hopping on the local clown factory workers (and you thought your dress code sucked) while pulling levers to release other swine. Eventually you have to find proper keys to get even more pigs free, and you’ll even have some properly done trial-and-error while you have to remember which walkways lead to more level, and which lead to a ham-press. Overall, THIS is what a mini-game should play like!

Even with some frustrating parts, Virtual Bart is probably the best of the three Simpsons games on the system. The graphics, while not the best even when compared to others at the time, were the best for any Simpsons game up to that time. The music, oddly enough isn’t as good as Barts Nightmare, which simply had some memorable tunes. Instead we get a basic soundtrack for the most part, even with the theme music. (Although, I still like that loop of the tomato game background music).

Virtual Bart is not a horrible game, but it’s not all that good either. If you find a copy laying around, play practice mode so you can mess with the tomato game for awhile, but almost anything else has little to no replay value. It’s just what happens when you keep trying to suck a cash-cow dry.

Heh, cow. Don’t have a cow! I now realize Bart was discussing childbirth. How odd.

SCORE: 6 out of 10

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