Insert Disk collects Bart’s Nightmare for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.
Today’s retro game review is Bart’s Nightmare for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic is a bit of a let-down. As the popularity of the Simpsons soared in the early 1990’s licencing the Simpsons brand for a series of video games made a lot of sense. Bart’s Nightmare came as a bit of a disappointment. It may have nostalgia value and a reasonable collectors price but really isn’t a game that has aged well.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. It’s rare that I review a game that I don’t like, quite frankly I’ve got better things to do. We all know that those Atari cartridges don’t clean themselves. Today though I’m taking a look back at a game that collectors still go out of their way to find and pay over the odds for. Join me as I take a very short look back at Bart’s Nightmare for the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis.
I have to first say that the Simpsons TV show in the early years was always entertaining and then hit a real golden age. The series has produced so many classic characters and episodes that is a wealth of material to pick from if you’re looking to create a video game. Even in the early years there was good material to work from which is why 1992’s Bart’s Nightmare is such as disappointment. Upfront I have to say that the Super Nintendo version was slightly better but not by much. The Sega Mega Drive and Genesis version are just riddled with issues.
The premise of the game sees Bart diligently working on his homework before abruptly falling asleep. During his dream a fan blows the pages out of the window and it’s his mission to retrieve them. So far so good. It all hits a bit of an issue when you get to what I’ll refer to as the street over world element. The goal is to track down the pages and jump in to them. This is an incredibly frustrating process as literally everything wants to kill you. Mailboxes, Jebadiahs head, Otto, it’s just non-stop. To top it off Lisa will also attempt to turn you in to a frog. For a series that was doing alright for itself you might have thought they would get the ethnicity of the Simpsons right. I’m all for ethnic diversity but why is Lisa not yellow? Its sloppy elements like this that really shows how little care was put in to the game. How is it that the game can get all the way to publishing stage without anyone raising a hand on this one? To make it worse the earlier release of Super Nintendo version used the correct colouring.
The street is incredibly frustrating, you can kill enemies by jumping over them but it feels very rigid and not at all a fun game mechanic. To keep your health up you’ll need to collect the floating zeds. Should you find one of the lost pages of Bart’s assignment you can enter it by jumping in to it. This will present you with two coloured doors representing a different mini game. As disappointing as the street element was you’ll be greeted with fairly much the same standard of mini game. To be fair the mini games are varied, it’s just that it’s difficult to believe that anyone would want to spend any real amount time with them. There’s an Itchy and Scratchy inspired level in which Bart must defend himself from the cat and mouse duo. It’s a reasonable level where you’ll pick up weaponry and simply fend off the attackers before moving on to the next screen. Overall it just feels a little uninspired.
There are of course other mini games such as the India Jones themed level in which you aim to cross a series of stepping stones. This isn’t a terrible mini-game it’s just very mundane. Nothing about it makes you want to replay the level. Other levels just appear to be really shoddily put together. If we’re being honest the Bartzilla level is just woeful. It’s just a case of hitting fire every now and again as enemies pop up. For a brand as influential as the Simpsons this is a real let down.
It is however the brand of the Simpsons that makes this game collectable. The Sega Mega Drive and Genesis editions are presented in the standard black cases and the artwork is at least decent.
For a UK Pal edition I’ve seen this game sell for close to the £25 mark. In terms of game quality to cost this is just a really terrible return. The North American Sega Genesis version typically runs between $10 and $20 but really this price is still too high in my opinion.
So there you have it, I know that some will say that this game conjures up all kinds of nostalgia and that may be true. Some collectors may even enjoy the game play a little more than I do.
I just can’t help thinking though that this is one game that was more of a cash in on the Simpsons popularity rather than any kind of genuine attempt to make a fun experience for the fans.
Bart’s Nightmare does sit in my gaming collection, although it’s unlikely to be played again anytime soon.