As much as it pains me to say, The Simpsons has had a huge dropoff in quality. No one can blame Matt Groening and company as one can only lambast society for so long. But nothing brings me more pleasure than watching reruns and reliving the glory days of the yellow skinned family. Remember the days when Phil Hartman did the voice of Troy McClure? When shows like Family Guy didn’t ape each and every scenario the Simpson family went through? One of my best memories that stems from these glory days was The Simpsons Arcade Game, which was more than just an amazing licensed game: it was an overall fantastic arcade game.
Using the same engine that was used for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game (both were developed by Konami and both still rock), The Simpsons Arcade Game recently made a comeback on iOS when EA Games remade it. Though, for those of us yearning for the original, this XBLA and PSN release is the best yet. Considering that we now have access to what is basically the original version of this fantastic brawler, fans of The Simpsons would be making a huge mistake by passing it up.
The plot is pretty thin, as it is an arcade game. Maggie Simpson accidentally takes a diamond that belongs to Mr. Burns, causing Mr. Smithers to kidnap her. The rest of the Simpson clan follows, beating up random bad guys. Along the way, they run into some iconic faces and locations from around Springfield.
Following a similar formula of less is more, its gameplay is just as simplistic. One button jumps, while one attacks. If you hit them both, your chosen character will do a jumping attack. Nothing revolutionary, but in arcade terms it’s just about all you need.
One of the most creative elements that The Simpsons Arcade Game brought to the table was the different attacks that each combo of characters could use. If you have Homer and Marge, you get one attack. Marge and Bart, another. Of course this isn’t life changing these days, but back when it was released, this was enough to elevate this arcade game above the slew of clones.
As fun as the game is, it really takes a party of people to bring out the best in it. Just like the show it’s based on, The Simpsons Arcade Game is at its best when the family sticks together. With up to four players allowed on screen at one time, the game only gets better as more people jump into the chaos. Although it takes barely an hour to beat, the nostalgia factor will keep groups playing through multiple times.
Included in this updated version of the game are plenty of goodies that up its replay value. Once the US version has been beaten, players are given the option to play through the Japanese ROM. Although there aren’t any major differences, this rare version includes more health items, lower difficulty and the ability to jump with a weapon in hand. It’s definitely interesting to play through this version afterwards, but it doesn’t add anything substantial to the experience.
Players can choose to play through the game in four different modes. Free Play gives gamers infinite lives, giving us the chance to beat the game (for the first time, if you were like me and short on quarters as a kid). Quarters mode limits you to only ten lives, which for skilled players should be more than enough. Team Quarters sets up four people with forty lives, and is the optimal version to play with friends. For the braver ones among us, the included Survival mode throws you into the game with only one life. All modes are fun, but as stated above, Team Quarters is the best of them all.
After playing through the game as each different character, small extras such as art and music from the game are unlocked. They’re a nice addition as well, but just like the included achievements and online capabilities, it’s all just icing on an already delicious cake. It’s hard to find anything to hate about this update, except for maybe the presentation. The Simpsons Arcade Game is presented in an actual arcade booth on screen, meaning that the screen the game itself is played on doesn’t take up enough space. The game is also just a tad too easy and lasts about as long as an episode of the show it’s based on.
Despite these very small gripes, this is a near perfect upgrade of The Simpsons Arcade Game. Fans of the show or arcade games in general would do themselves a great service by picking this up. For those of us who are Playstation Plus subscribers, we’re lucky enough to have this as our free game for the month of February. To be blunt, you would have to hate The Simpsons with a passion to not take advantage of this ridiculously good value (free) for a ridiculously great game. For those of you with XBLA, it might not be free, but ten bucks is a small price to ask for such a quality release. Any fan of Springfield’s favorite family will be overjoyed with this release.
The Simpsons Arcade Game was released on February 3 for XBLA and February 7 for PSN. This review was based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
This is an excellent update of the classic arcade game, and the fact that it comes packaged with some great collectables and modes makes it the definitive version to own.