Issue 224 of Retro Gamer is out now, featuring a four-page article on the making of Bart Vs The Space Mutants penned by yours truly. I played this game obsessively as a kid, and it was one of the very few NES games I owned. Back then, NES games cost the equivalent of about £100 today, so you were lucky to get one or two a year. That meant playing the games you already had over and over again.
Even so, I don’t think I ever quite managed to get to the end of Bart Vs The Space Mutants – this game is seriously hard. Bart can only take a couple of hits before expiring, and there are some painfully difficult platforming sections. Going back to play through it again for this feature, I was reminded of the stomach-tensing fear it evoked in me as a child, holding my breath and hoping for the best as I negotiated miniscule platforms over one-hit-kill pitfalls.
It was fascinating to speak with Garry Kitchen about how the game ended up as it did. Garry was already a veteran game designer by the early 1990s, having started coding on the Atari 2600, and this first Simpsons game was made on a brutal schedule with 80-hour weeks. Garry himself coded the first and last levels, while others worked on the ones in the middle, which explains the stark changes in gameplay. The first level is by far the best, with lots of clever puzzles and secrets – but hardly anyone got to experience Garry’s handiwork on the final level, such was the game’s brutal challenge.
You can read the full story for yourself in Retro Gamer 224 – single issues are available to order here.