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CONSOLE: Game Gear DEVELOPER: Arc Developments PUBLISHER: Flying Edge
RELEASE DATE (NA): 1993 GENRE: Platformer/Mini-Game
// review by SoyBomb

You don't win friends with Game Gear!

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World on the NES is admittedly a guilty pleasure. It's not a great game by any stretch of the imagination, though to be fair, there wasn't a GOOD Simpsons game in the early-to-mid-1990s. Compared to the other Simpsons games of its time, however, Bart vs. the World was miles ahead, boasting a variety of different gameplay styles, somewhat like a compilation of mini-games plastered together to form a semi-cohesive journey for our spikey-haired mascot, Bart Simpson.

Now I have had the privilege of trying out the Game Gear version. Oh, did I say "privilege"? I meant "punishment", although I'm not sure what horrid deed I've done to deserve this. Bart vs. the World is, dare I say it, a pure turd of a mess, gentle lain between the plastic tabs of anyone's Game Gear who dared make such a purchase.

The story goes that, after winning an art contest (with quite the lousy drawing, I might add), Bart wins a Krusty the Clown-themed scavenger hunt around the world to find invaluable (as in, lacking any value) Krusty merch. Little does he realize, Mr. Burns has totally rigged the contest and has enlisted the aid of long-lost relatives to help get rid of the annoying Simpsons once and for all. (According to the manual, Homer has been costing the company millions of dollars somehow.) Bart will visit China, Egypt, the North Pole, and Hollywood, all while dodging the attacks of Burns' cronies and associates.

It's a pretty lousy vacation, but it's still not as bad as that one they took in Season 10 where Homer threw the Emperor of Japan into a dumpster.

We're immediately thrown into the map of China. Okay, it's not a map of China at all. It's a menu of several mini-sections we can tackle. First off, we can complete one of those sliding puzzles with the 15 squares... or we can skip it. Yes, you can thankfully skip it. If that was a requirement to completing the game, I'd be throwing this one out the window into a well. You can play a matching game like Memory, flipping cards over to match Simpsons characters on the other side — simple fun, I guess.


Sweet merciful crap!

But then we get to the meat and potatoes: the platforming. There's a level set on a junk — a Chinese sailing vessel, not the game itself... Bart's supposed to climb around, collecting Krusty items, and then leave. Along the way, random sailors throw dynamite at him, but other than a few of those, there really isn't much to be said about this boring stage. Next up is the Great Wall of China, and here's where everything goes so far downhill, literally. Bart has to ride his skateboard down the slope, avoiding pits, potholes, random wandering townsfolk, and for some reason, entire gaps in the wall. He also has to make sure not to get burnt by a dragon, hiding out in certain doors along the way. Jumping off ramps is very hit and miss; you might make it across the unusually large pit after it, you might not. Why are there so many holes and ramps in the Great Wall of China anyhow? Can't you get someone to fix these things? Get a guy and a spackle bucket and go nuts.

If you manage to survive that without losing all your lives, you'll have to battle against Mr. Burns' third cousin, Fu Manchu Burns, who wanders back and forth tossing lit firecrackers. And here's where I learned just how skunky the gameplay is. Bart's only means of attack is by picking up firecracker balls. He can toss them at enemies to disable their dastardly mindsets. The only problem? He can't throw them at the same time as jumping! Considering that's the only way to defeat Fu Manchu Burns — by throwing firecrackers at his face when it's not covered by a hand fan, this battle becomes practically impossible and an absolute nightmare. That's when you turn off the Game Gear and use the cartridge as a makeshift doorstop or table leveler. It's that bad.

Graphically, it's not terrible. Unlike the NES version, the characters have black outlines, and Bart's sprite has a clearly-defined nose. The music, on the other hand, is dismal and repetitive: they use the same song over and over again! Could they not fit any more music onto that cartridge, or did they only have three hours to prep this game before sending it through the septic system to desperate stores everywhere?

This port was produced by Arc Developments, who "specialized" in ports of games to other consoles. They managed to take a semi-playable game, the NES version of Bart vs. the World, and make it far less enjoyable, quite an impressive feat. It's doubtful most players will ever finish this due to either poor controls or sheer boredom. The likely unseen Abominable Snowburns is the second most abominable creation here, right after this very game.


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