The Simpsons Arcade Game review
Hard as it is to believe, there was a time when the Simpsons
were new and the novelty of a dysfunctional family in an animated series was
fresh. And those same characters starring in a videogame was even more unique. Decades
of Simpsons games exist that range from god awful to tolerable, but until now
there’d never been a proper home version of the Simpsons’ original arcade
adventure. The long overdue re-release has finally happened, and while it’s
hardly deep, The Simpsons Arcade Game is at least an entertaining trifle.
Cut from the same cloth as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Arcade and Final Fight, the side-scrolling beat-‘em-up works the same as it has
since the big bang. Move your character forward, knock out everyone on screen,
eventually face the stage’s boss, and move on to the next wacky adventure. The Simpsons follows that same formula to a T, and we're glad the days these titles once went for full retail prices are long ago.
At its core the Simpsons is at the height of early 90s
design for arcade games and was a perfect quarter-gobbler back then. The
graphics are still impressively colorful, set in a commendable pixel art
recreation of a very early version of Springfield, based mostly on the first
season of the show. Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa look like their former selves, but the whole concept doesn't really fit the sitcom, as it’s strange seeing Lisa punch grown men in the face, let alone
giant bowling balls. Also, casting likeable lackey Smithers as the game’s baby-stealing
villain is a particularly odd choice.
The levels are particularly creative, as the
sillier, cartoony world allows for more creativity than in X-Men or Streets of
Rage. Things shift from theme parks to forests to dreamscapes so gradually, we
didn’t even notice. (Yes, we did
notice, we just wanted to paraphrase that quote.) Anyway, the stages and imaginative
bosses were still notable, but the countless thugs Bart, Lisa and the rest
punch into unconsciousness are painfully repetitive.
Simpsons Arcade really shows its age in its length, as the
whole adventure probably won’t take you and your friends more than an hour to
complete once. There’s some modest bonus material and the slightly different
Japanese version, but that won’t keep you going too long. Whether that’s enough
to warrant $10 really depends on how big a Simpsons fan you are. Will seeing
Principal Skinner and Sideshow Bob walk by give you a chortle?
Above: Watch us go through the whole game in 45 minutes
We’re the most diehard of Simpsons buffs, so of
course we got it day one and happily relived those heady days in the local
arcade for as long as the brief run time lasted. Should that describe you, you’ll
feel the same way. If you weren’t around for it in the early 90s, it’s still a
fun diversion and could be an eye-opening experience for younger Simpsons fans
that regard season nine as “the good ol’ days.” Ultimately, Simpsons Arcade is
much richer with history than it is with content, but we’d easily play this
over Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge.