Best. Simpsons game. Ever?
Over 20 years ago upon their debut, The Simpsons absolutely dominated pop culture. Schoolyards were littered with kids sporting T-shirts, backpacks, hats, and lunch boxes with a Simpson on it. Matt Groening’s animated family was a cult phenomenon and people just couldn’t get enough. It was only a matter of time before The Simpsons would get their own video game. It would be Konami who would be in charge of making that a reality.
Konami now had the daunting task of following the enormous success of their 1989 arcade release–Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–which many consider to be one (if not the greatest) beat ’em up arcade games of all-time. Not surprisingly, upon the game’s release, it was an instant hit. My friends and I would spend many a weekend at Time Out in Downey, CA just feeding quarters into the game. Now, 21 years later, Konami has released a true high-definition port of The Simpsons Arcade Game.
The Simpsons Arcade Game is your basic 4-player beat ‘em up very much in the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The premise is pretty straightforward, albeit odd. Waylon Smithers, who just robbed a jewelry store (weird, right?), collides into the Simpson family who are out on a leisurely walk. A large diamond, which Smithers was carrying, flies from his grasp and lands directly into Maggie’s mouth, who then turns it into the world’s most expensive pacifier. Rather than easily removing said diamond, Smithers decides to add kidnapping to his repertoire as he nabs Maggie and makes a run for it. It is now up to Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa to save her.
Players will visit various Springfield locals such as Krustyland, Channel 6 studios, Moe’s Tavern, and the infamous Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. The first few stages of the game are occupied by suit-wearing goons, who will be everywhere for the first few stages. The game offers very little variety in terms of enemies and feels repetitive after a few minutes. As the game progresses though, players will get some variety in their foes in the form of ninjas, zombies, giant donuts, and even Bongo imposters.
The game plays very similarly to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in that each character has a basic attack, vertical and diagonal jump attacks, and a special attack performed by pressing the attack and jump buttons simultaneously. If playing with a friend(s), players can perform double team attacks. Additionally, players can use an array of debris and weapons littered throughout Springfield, such as bowling balls, slingshots, and even animals to dispose of their enemies.
Local and online multiplayer options are available, and quite frankly, it’s the only true way to enjoy this game. Granted, the average gamer can complete the adventure in less than in hour, but seeing the screen fill up with enemies while you and three friends beat the living hell out of them is far more satisfying. My online experience was disappointing as I suffered many lag issues and played with people who found it humorous to just stand motionless making it impossible to advance. Perhaps (hopefully), I am in the minority of folks who had to endure such gaming sessions. Local multiplayer is by far the best way to go.
Another realization I had is that the game feels extremely short and found it to be far less challenging than I remember. In fact, I would go as far as saying it is the easiest beat ‘em up Konami has ever released. One could argue that it is easier since the game would appeal to a wider audience than, say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Sunset Riders. The Simpsons Arcade Game offers a number of unlockables including the rare Japanese ROM (a much harder version of the game) but even then I felt like one playthrough was good enough for me.
Who Would Enjoy This:
Any Simpsons fan and beat ‘em up aficionados. Bear in mind that the game was released in 1991 when the show was in the middle of their second season, so you’re not going to see a lot of cameos outside some of the various Springfield kids such as Milhouse Van Houten and Martin Prince. Also, the game will feel extremely repetitive and, dare I say, boring, to those who aren’t fans of the show or are just too young to have played the game in the arcades. There is very little argument over the success of The Simpsons Arcade Game, yet it doesn’t usurp Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sunset Riders, X-Men, or (my favorite) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. With its minor shortcomings, The Simpsons Arcade Game is an enjoyable title which will undoubtedly provide great moments of nostalgia for those fortunate enough to have grown up during the waning days of the arcade. If you find me on XBOX Live (King 0f Mars) [the 'o' is a zero], I’d be more than happy to relive the 90′s with you!
The Simpsons Arcade Game is available now on XBOX Live for 800 points ($10) and the PSN Store.