Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1-4 (2-4 online)|
The Simpsons Arcade Game is a barebones port of the similarly named game popular in arcades back in the 90’s. Strangely enough, although there aren’t any real extras to the game, it represents something of a rarity in gaming these days: it’s actually a lot of fun. Even more surprising, I found it to be more entertaining than the likeminded 90’s Konami arcade port X-Men: The Arcade Game from last year. As with X-Men: The Arcade Game, upon completing the more familiar version of the game, you unlock the Japanese ROM. The Japanese ROM is actually a lot more fun to play through than the USA ROM, because it provides both extra health (which is stackable) and the ability to use a plethora of unusual weapons not present in the US version.
The game starts with the family out for a stroll in downtown Springfield. They happen to bump into Waylon Smithers committing a jewel robbery. Of course, he bumps into the Simpson clan and the stolen diamond ends up as a replacement for Maggie’s pacifier. So rather than just grabbing the diamond and making a getaway, this genius decides to add kidnapping to his rap sheet. What to do? It’s up to the family to save her! The game is a 4 player beat ’em up so every member of the immediate family can be played. Each family member has their own distinct fighting style: Marge attacks with her vacuum cleaner (and her butt), Homer uses his fists, Bart’s weapon of choice is his skateboard and Lisa shows off her dominating tendencies by using her skipping rope like a whip.
The Simpsons Arcade Game takes you through eight familiar (and not so familiar) locations from the show. The levels you won’t immediately recognize are “dreamland” (where you fight giant bowling bowls and the like…trust me, it’s weird) and the TV station with a full kabuki theater setup (say what?). Those aside, the rest of the levels represent more comfortable locales such as downtown Springfield, the Springfield Discount Cemetery and Moe’s Tavern. Each level comes with its own boss at the end, as you might expect. What you might not expect is a few rather strange ones such as the giant drunk that spits fire at you at the end of Moe’s Tavern (!) or the huge from Noh theater actor who dances at you (!?!). Like I said, weird.
The game is littered with guest appearances by familiar characters from the show. As these tend to be rather subtle, quick cameos often taking place in the background, you may not pick out all of them on your first few playthroughs. The main characters’ voice actors from the series do actually provide the voices here for the Simpson family, but that said, neither Smithers or Mr. Burns is voiced by their TV counterpart. Even more strangely, the dialogue for both Smithers and Burns also seems somewhat out of character, like the developers weren’t familiar with them. Given that the rest of the game is fairly dead on, it’s a real head scratcher…
Backbone Entertainment did a nice job of porting this game over from the arcade. I just wish they had added a few more things to it. I am glad to have the option to play the Japanese ROM though. Even though I definitely enjoyed the game, I still felt the $10 price tag was a bit steep for something so brief and unilayered. Sadly enough, it bristles a bit to realize that most of us likely spent more than that playing through the game back in the arcade days – but that sorry fact still doesn’t justify price gouging now. The Simpsons Arcade Game shows that in most cases, despite graphical limitations, the old games are still better than today’s far prettier, but far less entertaining crowd. As with today’s overproduced “music” and digitally reworked, 3D/CGI “films,” we may have gained surface prettiness, but the soul is gone. And everyone seems to forget: todays “oohs and aahs” are continually upstaged by technical upgrades tomorrow, rendering last week’s empty but “visually astounding” crapfest absolutely worthless in the light of tomorrow. It’s like they always say, beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.
Posted: 2012-02-14 12:59:47 PST