In 1991 Konami, easily the kind of the Arcade Beat’em Up in the late 80’s early 90’s unleashed upon arcades globally The Simpsons Arcade Game. Based on the same engine that brought the world the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game the Simpsons continued Konami’s legacy of bringing fun ports of our favorite entertainment properties to our local Arcades.
I have great nostalgia for these old arcade games. I remember playing them at the mall, super market, Pizza Hut, Chuckie Cheese, and the bowling alley. Whenever I got the chance I was bugging my parents for precious quarters so I could get down on some Simpsons or Turtle action. In fact I distinctly remember spending $8 in quarters at the bowling in order to beat the Simpsons game for the first time. My family was spending the afternoon bowling and I was 8 so and about mid way through I got tired of bowling so I begged my dad for some quarters to play with the other kids. Of course as your classic arcade games went I’d lose and rush back for some more quarters. My dad must have been bowling one hell of a came to continually keep handing me quarters. Anyways, me and some other kids (and eventually my dad) conquered the game. This was the first (and possibly only) game I beat at the arcade and there is probably no bigger sense of accomplishment for a gamer than to actually conquer those infernal machines.
So as you can see I have a fondness for this game and we all know sometimes things we adored as children don’t hold up when we experience them again as adults. When we do this we are forever cursed with the knowledge that we ruined a great memory by going back. So when this game was released in 2012 for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network I snapped it up (along with TMNT The Arcade, which I accidentally deleted and can’t get back). I think I might have played it once to justify the purchase but didn’t really dive in to it. This holiday weekend that all changed. Nelson, my son, and I got on Xbox Live and played through the entire game.
The plot of the game is your standard Simpsons insanity. Mr. Burns loses a rare diamond that lands in Maggie’s mouth replacing her pacifier. Instead of Mr. Burns you know, asking for his property back he has Smithers kidnap Maggie. You fight through 8 levels to get her back, including Downtown Springfield, Krusty Land, The Graveyard, Moe’s, Springfield Park, Dreamland, Channel 6, and The Nuclear Power Plant, though this last level is just two boss battles, one against Smithers and the other against Mr. Burns himself.
The game is your standard beat’em up. Repetitive enemies come at you constantly throughout the level and when your life gets low you need to find food to replenish it. Also in Konami arcade fashion when you fight the level boss they don’t have a classic health bar but as you deplete their energy the flash red and the quicker they flash the closer they are towards death. You can play up to four players either locally or over Xbox Live or Playstation Network. And as expected your four character choices are Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa.
Bart uses his skateboard as his weapon, Lisa a jump rope (though I don’t recall ever seeing jump rope ever in the show, I feel her saxophone would have been a better weapon), Marge her trusty vacuum, and Homer just uses blind rage throwing fist after fist at his enemies. A quick did you fact about the game. Marge’s tall blue hair was originally intended to hide rabbit ears as if she was a half human half rabbit thingy which would be revealed in the last episode. This plot was obviously abandoned but the sprite made it into the game as when Marge gets electrocuted you see her X-ray and you can clearly see rabbit ears. Also, the reason why Homer and Krusty look similar was because they were supposed to be the same person. It was kind a trick to show how Bart love and respected the same person he disrespected. Like Marge’s rabbit ears that plot was also abandoned, but sort of rehashed when Homer went to clown college and the mob couldn’t tell the difference between him and Krusty.
The game does a good job at capturing the humor of the series and even thought it’s 24 years old the game play still holds up, though the game gets repetitive, it could have done without the dream level and maybe Springfield park. It’s a fun game, especially if you have 30 minutes to an hour to kill with four friends. Unfortunately getting a copy of this game is relatively hard at the moment because it has been pulled from Xbox Live Store along with the Playstation Store. Odds are this is due to EA now having the Simpsons’ licence, however if you have a copy or can get one I’d say this game has a rating of Relieve It.