Bart’s Nightmare Review (A Doug Walker Tribute)

Posted: May 4, 2015 in Game reviews
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Greetings mortals, I am DracoJames102 and I am here to give you a review.

Bart's Nightmare Title Card

Ever since I met Doug Walker (a.k.a Nostalgia Critic) at Alcon 2013, I wanted to review something in his honour and what better way to do that than look at something that he’s looked at. Like Doug Walker, I am a really big Simpsons fan. I already own Seasons 2-8 on DVD and it is one of my all-time favourite shows with its great comedy writing and witty social commentary. I’ve never played any games based on the Simpsons though until this review. Now even though Doug has technically thrashed the game, I’m going to look into it with a little more detail. Is this game really as bad as Doug made it out to be?

Bart's_Nightmare

Story

Bart is doing his homework one night and falls asleep. However during a dream his homework gets blown out the window and Bart has to venture out into the dream and get his homework back. One does wonder how getting his homework back in a dream helps him get a better grade in real life but I’m just assuming this all plays out like a Treehouse of Horror episode.

Gameplay

This is where I would talk about the basic control scheme, but there isn’t really a consistent gameplay style throughout the whole game. Even though it’s side scrolling throughout, this game consists of different games you play to get all 8 homework sheets back. So I guess I have to look at all of them individually. The game starts with Bart Simpson landing on the sidewalk where you have to find the homework sheets. You also come back here when you win or lose a game. You use the D-Pad to move about, the A button to jump, B to blow a bubble and C to shoot a watermelon seed, which is about as effective as it sounds. The Start button is always used to pause the game. You have a health bar which consists of five Zs in a bar. There’s a ton of stuff that can do damage to you while you’re looking for the sheets such as Jebediah Springfield ghost heads, basketballs, moving letterboxes and Otto even tries to run you over with his bus without warning. There are also Lisa fairies that turn you into a frog, flying saxophones that make you moonwalk, puddles of mud that slow you down and Principal Skinner makes you wear a suit that makes you temporarily invincible but slows you down. If you lose all of your Zs, it’s game over and you are given your score. You can regain some Zs by catching them with bubble gum bubbles. The major problem with this sidewalk level is there will be times where you’ll be wandering around aimlessly looking for the next homework sheet. Jumping over the letterboxes can give you directions as well as more bubblegum and watermelon ammo, but can’t we just move on to the next game instead of wasting time on this sidewalk?

bart's nightmare sidewalk

Once you find a homework sheet, you need to go right onto it (although the collision detection for this can be really picky). You are then given a choice to go into one of two doors. The colour of the door depends on which game you play. The blue door takes you to a game where you play as Bartman soaring through the sky. The D-Pad moves you around and the A button shoots projectiles from your slingshot. Sadly you can only shoot in one direction which is straight in front on you. Even NES games knew to let their heroes shoot in more than one direction. The objective to go along the level avoiding various hazards and defeat all of the bosses who get in your way. You have a health bar and three lives to start you off. If you lose all your health, you lose a life and if you lose all of your lives, you’re booted back to the sidewalk. The hazards you need to avoid range from missiles, hang gliders, mini planes, radiation clouds and even Krusty balloons can hurt you. Apu can give you beef jerky to restore your health as well as Krusty balloons which can also give you extra lifes. The mini bosses you fight are the twins in a hot-air balloon dropping water balloons on you, Barney riding a pink elephant (that’s actually pretty funny) and Smithers riding a balloon firing darts that can take off half your health. The final boss is a real pain in the bottom. Mr. Burns in a plane moves so fast and it’s hard to tell where he’s going to come from. His bullets are barely visible and it’s most likely you’ll get hit. Save your lives for this battle.

bart's nightmare bartman

The yellow door takes you to the Itchy and Scratchy level where everything is out for your blood. You use the D-Pad to move, A button to jump and the C button to use your weapon. You have a health bar and three lives. The same rules from the Bartman stage apply here. Not only will Itchy and Scratchy come after you (which must be traumatizing for Bart), there are also exploding house hold appliances and fire breathing vacuum cleaners that can kill you in one hit. There are even times where Itchy and Scratchy carry weapons that can kill you in one hit, a difficulty curb that can be incredibly frustrating. You have to play these levels two times to acquire two sheets. You have three weapons to defend yourself with, a mallet, a fire extinguisher and a plunger gun. The fire extinguisher and the plunger gun have good range but they can be incredibly unreliable with questionable collision detection. This automatically makes the mallet the better option.

bart's nightmare itchy and scratchy

The purple door takes you to a level where you swim through a blood stream fighting germs. You use the D-Pad to move about and you tap the A button to use the pump. Once you got a germ on the pump, you pump them up until they pop (no pun intended). There are two types of germs to avoid, the ones that ram you with spiked helmets and ones that throw grenades at you. If they inflict enough damage to you, you get kicked back to the sidewalk. However unlike the Bartman and the Itchy and Scratchy level, you don’t have a health bar this time so you have no idea how much health you have until you die. Shortly after entering the level, you will see a homework sheet in a bubble. The only way to get to it is to collect enough plutonium babies which pass up through the blood stream (I swear I don’t smoke). Every time you collect one, the others will move faster and faster to the point where collecting the last one will be based on pure luck.

bart's nightmare germ

The green door takes you to a level where you play as Bartzilla destroying everything in your path. You use the D-Pad to breath fire forward or downward, A button to shoot lasers downward, B button to shoot lasers at the railroad track and the C button to shoot lasers forward. Military forces such as tanks, helicopters and fighter jets will be coming after you. In order to destroy them, you’ll need to know which button to press in order to defeat them. The helicopters are the most annoying because their shots are barely visible even after they’ve been destroyed resulting in you taking potshots. If you take enough damage, you fade to black and get kicked out of the level and once again, you don’t have a health bar. Destroying certain buildings will cause a screen nuke. You play through the level until a machine comes along and shrinks you down. The timing of when that appears is never consistent. Sometimes it takes forever to turn up, but there is one time where it appeared in the first twenty seconds after I first got into the level. Once that happens, you get a homework sheet and move on to the second half of the level.

bart's nightmare bartzilla

The second half of the Bartzilla level has you climbing a building. You use the D-Pad to move up, left and right and the A, B or C button to emit radiation which is not useful until the very end. You need to get to the top of the building and along the way you need to do everything in your power to avoid getting hit by whatever the citizens drop on you because they send you so far back. It doesn’t make you go off the screen, but you need to keep moving because if you go offscreen, you’re booted back to the sidewalk. Now don’t worry you don’t have to do the first half again when this happens. There’s a white door that will take you back to this part. The problem is that there is so much stuff to avoid, including Momthra (a hideous cross between Marge and Mothra) and you can get knocked back so many times that you’ll be begging for the level to end. Once you reach the top, you’ll need the right timing to use the radiation shield against King Kong Homer when he punches you in order to defeat him and get the next sheet. However the game gives you absolutely no clue that you need to do this.

bart's nightmare bartzilla 2

The last level you need to conquer is the Indiana Jones level, which is accessible via the orange door. You use the D-Pad to jump from stone to stone and for the first few tries, I thought that was all you could do. There are devils that follow you and try to push you onto stones that have a little flame above them that will kill you if you step on them and I thought you were completely defenceless. That is until I found out that in order to use the whip to defeat them, you need to hold the A button and tap a direction on the D-Pad. But the only reason I didn’t think of that is that the game doesn’t tell you that you do that. Honestly this might just be the most frustrating level of the lot. Not only do those devils pester you, there are times where you need to avoid those low platforms that can kill you if you step on them and there are sections where you need to step of the right block to raise them up if you want to move on. There are also Maggie statues that spit their dummies at you if you’re close in their range. The problem with this is that the statues are in the background while your eyes are focused on the platforms you need to jump on to proceed, which can result on you being blind sighted if you’re not careful. There are eggs you can collect as extra lives, but even then that will barely help you and you need to get the eggs fast before they get carried away by pterodactyls. You need to do two levels of this to get two homework sheets, something I was never able to accomplish because there’s so much horse manure a guy can take before he turns the game off and plays something else.

bart's nightmare jones

Graphics

The aesthetics are honestly the best thing about this game. It’s bright and colourful, the sprites are nicely done and the sprite animations seem rather fluent for a Sega Mega Drive game.

Music

There are only four tracks in this game and the only two I can remember are the main theme and the sidewalk theme but that’s only because I got booted back to it so many times. The only other themes play during the Bartman stage and the Itchy and Scratchy stage. The rest of the stages don’t have music playing. Even some other bad games I play at least have good music I can listen to while I deal with whatever garbage the game throws at you. This game doesn’t even have that distinction.

Control

The responsiveness of the control can be unpredictable at times and that goes for all of the gameplay styles. Never to the point where it’s broken but it can be rather stiff, unresponsive or do something else entirely.

Final thoughts

I think I see now why this game gave Doug Walker so much trouble. This was a rather frustrating experience, about on par with my experience on Mario 2 The Lost Levels but even that game was more polished than this was. It’s not unplayable and the graphics are nice, but it’s not even challenging to the point where it’s fun such as other games like Castlevania, Mega Man and Shovel Knight. The game’s difficulty comes from unpolished control and collision detection, poor level design and the game doesn’t take the time for you to learn the controls for any of the games you play. I don’t know what happens when you collect all of the homework sheets and after all of the problems I discussed, quite frankly, I don’t think it’s worth it.

Final rating: 3/10

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Comments
  1. […] Bart’s Nightmare Review (A Doug Walker Tribute) – No, it was not a great game. […]

  2. frankt10 says:

    I’m still kicking myself for not knowing Doug was at Alcon that year!

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