This might be a strange way to start a review but I want to talk about my memories of old games. Now when some people think about retro games they kind of jump to what are considerd the best of the best games the cream of the crop the Mario Worlds, the Links to the past but when you think back to gaming in your child hood the memories are far more mixed. We all struggled with certain games the kinds that angry reviewers would jump on now, we all had this one game we were stuck at a certain point on, and we all had the game we kind of just shoved in the slot everytime we needed to kill 5 minutes and didnt really know what we wanted to play, well for me that game was The Simpsons Bart's Nightmare.
The funny thing is that I have always die hard considerd this a SNES game, in my head it was only on the Super Nintendo, but the truth is it wasnt an exclusive or anything it was on the MegaDrive as well and both versions were developed by Sculptured Software, a Utah based developer which would latter be swallowed up by Acclaim and who sadly no longer exist. They were proberbly best known for Super Star Wars on the SNES and a whole bunch of WWF games in the early 1990’s.
The games plot is pretty simple, Bart Simpsohn is trying to write a essay for school and he falls asleep. While asleep Bart dreams that the pieces of paper his essay are written on have blow out of the window, and that he needs to try to collect as many of them as possible in order to complete the assiggment and get the best grade he can. Each piece of paper has basically found its way on to a windy street but Bart cant just pick them up, nope he has to jump on them and when he jumps on one he will be met with a choice of two coloured doors with each door leading to a diffrent dream scenario, a diffrent world with a task he must complete in it and if he manages the task he wins the page.
Ok so as for how this game plays you have a sort of main stage called Windy Road, this is the road the pages are blowing up and down. You can walk in either direction but the truth is theres not any real way to know if your near a page or not so you just pick a direction and wander and wander hoping you will soon find a page sometimes it feels like its taking forever. The game clearly likes to show that it is familiar with the show and it does a good job of making you feel like this is a part of that world, you will be attacked by bouncing heads of Jebidiah Springfield, Principal Skinner will walk towards you and he will force you into a suit, Lisa will play her saxophone and if the notes hit you it will reverse your controls, the school bullys will come along and try and get you and bart can even find his skate board to speed himself up. It is in this central world though that you actually take damage, if your hit here you loose Z's and if you loose them all you wake up, and sometimes this bit drags on and gets so boring youll simply loose Z's by bumping into things because half of your brain has turned off while playing the game.
Once you finally jump on one of the bits of your essay though then things change a whole bunch, you are taken to two doors, pick a door and you get to try your hands at one of the mini-games/stages. One stage is a bit of a shoot em up and see's you flying through the skies as Bartman firing your slingshot at enemies until you reach the boss, another see's you become the might Bartzillia who must go smashing through the streets wrecking havic with his flame breathe and lazer eyes, who must climb the tower and displace King Kong Homer. You also get to be Bart in what can best be described as an Indiana Jones Parody and you get to enter the world of Itchy and Scratchy and have them try to murder you. If you fail at any of the mini games its not game over but in some ways its worse as your bumped back down to windy street to look for a bit of paper again.
I have to not only give respect to the fact that this game seems to show a good degree of knowledge about the Simpsons as far as both characters and refrences go, but this game also looks the part, I cant complain about the graphics in the slightest. When this game is good oh boy is it good but then when its bad its just plain boring. I dont very often get to say this but Bart's Nightmare is a heck of a Marmite game, go all around the internet, look in diffrent old publications, ask people and you will see a whole bunch of diffrent oppinions on this games some will swear it is pure trash, others will say its mediocre and yet others love it, still enjoy it and want to defend it. So just incase you havent gotten my oppinion from reading this review I will lay it out here nice and plain and simple, I think the game is a 7 out of 10, I love it, I want to tell everyone to run out and grab it but I can not help but admit that the game is absolutly full of flaws. What you have here is a mini game collection that is held togther with a sort of hub stage (windy street), now the mini games are very fun and intresting in my oppinion and quiet a few of them could quite easily have been spun out in to intresting full games of there own but as they stand in this package they just get dragged down by an overly long overly annoying hub stage. You feel like your having to push yourself through windy street constantly to get to the good bit and in the end you cant help wishing that you could just jump straight to being bartman or bartzillia and its never a good thing when your wishing sections of a game away.