Up and AT THEM
Hi, I'm Justin Towell. You may remember me from such GamesRadar articles as 'What if Killzone Shadow Fall's OWL was a real owl?' and 'Oh no, my house is not compatible with Kinect'. I've been a Simpsons fan since the show's early days when someone my mum knew would lend us a VHS of episodes he'd recorded off Sky (it's like Cable, US-chums). Oh how we laughed at Bart's tongue stuck in the beaters.
However! That early success was so sudden, there wasn't time to carefully construct the perfect Simpsons game first time. So we ended up with hastily-cobbled-together cash-in games that only vaguely resembled anything in the show itself. That's changed these days, of course, but the series's decades-long history has left us with a large, extremely eclectic collection of titles bearing the Simpson name. And here they are! All of them--ranked from the crappiest to best. Don't bother with the goggles. They do nothing...
24. The Simpsons Skateboarding (PS2, 2002)
EA thought it would be a great idea to release an extreme sports version of The Simpsons. Makes sense, doesn't it? Bart rides a skateboard, Lisa... um... Oh well, Homer had a tramampoline (gotta say it right), and that's all about getting graded on tricks. And what's a tramampoline if not an elasticated, wheel-less skateboard? Exactly. Sadly, the game engine is flaky, the voice clips repeat far too quickly and there's not much fun to be had here at all. Sigh.
23. The Simpsons Wrestling (PlayStation, 2000)
PSone was not a console best-suited to cel-shaded, polygonal 3D. But it was the console with the largest market share in 2000. So who cares? There was money to be made! The Simpsons Wrestling is a shambling mockery of a travesty (to coin a phrase), with awful graphics, poor collision detection, limited moves... it's technically awful. And it reviewed dreadfully too. But you know what? I played it at the time and thought it was hilarious. Krusty saying 'Oww!' every other second, constant spamming of the same attack... I think it was Barney's burp attack that got me best. What do you mean, 'lowest common denominator'?
22. The Simpsons Bowling (Arcade, 2000)
Did you know that Konami made more than one Simpsons arcade game? There's the good one, which appears later in this list and... there's a bowling sim too. Considering the 128-bit generation had already started at home in 2000, let alone the arcades, it's odd to see how scrappy the Simpsons Bowling looks. If I were in an arcade and looking at it, I would know I shouldn't waste my money. Yet my heart--and my hips--cry proceed! Sorry, I'm trying to get in a Simpsons reference whenever I can. So while this slide is not quite breakfast, not quite (breathes in an odd place) lunch... it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at ze end. ^.
21. Bart's House of Weirdness (MS DOS, 1991)
This is another offering from Konami, targeting PC users instead of arcade-goers. Presumably PC gamers can take more punishment, or perhaps have already paid their money so there's no need to entice them in with early gratification. Because while the game looks beautiful, it's ridiculously difficult. There is so much going on. All of the things. Go into the kitchen and Scratchy will be there, trying to hit you with an over-sized mallet. Butcher's knives are falling from the cupboard and bombs are rolling across the floor, detonating only when you try to jump over them. Those who never played it have never heard of it. Presumably because those who did... never spoke of it again.
20. Bart and the Beanstalk (Game Boy, 1994)
Bart appears in a bizarre fantasy platformer based on Jack and the Beanstalk. And yes, of course Homer is the giant. The music is decent, but sadly doesn't change from level to level. Bart looks like Bart, and his catapult attack makes sense (not so sure about the dynamite, mind), but the 8-bit platforming is basic and frustrating. Not a classic, but I'm sure it has some fans.
19. Bart vs The World (multi (8-bit), 1991)
A rather misshapen Bart walks around some levels that don't look much like the show at all, throwing things to kill birds and other creatures. The level design is basic even by 8-bit standards, although the lol-worthy Bartman sprite and said alter-ego's ability to fly at least keeps things interesting. Well... is it really interesting? Snuh. Oh, that's not a word? OK, then: Bof.
18. Bartman meets Radioactive Man (Game Gear, NES, 1992)
Bartman is cool. Fact. Not so cool is the way he looks in the NES version of this platform entry. It looks pretty amateurish. Things improved slightly in the zoomed-in Game Gear version, but nothing can disguise the basic and fiddly platforming. At least the intro is cool, with Fallout Boy appearing out of nowhere (and no, I don't mean to play a surprise show).
17. Virtual Bart (Mega Drive/Genesis, SNES, 1994)
In this oddity, Bart gets tied up to a wheel which spins around to randomly select a virtual reality minigame. Well, I say 'Virtual Reality', it's more just an excuse to have a load of game types that can't feasibly be linked together with any sort of coherent plot. Ooh how cynical of me! Me--and, indeed--ow! The game is predictably underwhelming, but at least looks pretty decent. Well, it does on SNES, where Mode 7 allowed for loads of cool rotation and pseudo-3D effects. The Mega Drive version? Not so much.
16. The Itchy & Scratchy Game (SNES, Game Gear, 1994)
They bite! They fight! They bite and fight and bite! Bite, bite, bite, fight, fight, fight... Hey wait a minute! This doesn't even have the theme music! I know this was 1994 and cartridge memory sizes were restrictive, but this could have been recreated with (counts on fingers) maybe 5 different small sound files for the lyric. Instead, we get a vague soundalike MIDI version that sets up the rest of the game perfectly. Because it's bad. The most generic of platforming, with decent-sized sprites and colourful backgrounds. And with downplayed gore, this is far from the bloodbath it should be--surely missing the entire point of Itchy & Scratchy. It bites. It bites! It bites, it bites, it bites! Etc...