The Simpsons Arcade Game review

  • First straight port the game’s ever received
  • A likeable fossil from a simpler time
  • Remains a good throwback
  • Only the biggest Simpsons nerds need apply
  • As short as most other arcade beat-em-ups of the day
  • Many better ways to spend $10 on XBLA/PSN

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.

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Published by: Konami


PSN simpsons XBLA


  • tiben36 - February 8, 2012 6:13 p.m.

    >Many better ways to spend $10 on XBLA/PSN i cant hear you over the sound of my PSN PLus
  • Dabenguin - February 8, 2012 6:51 p.m.

    It is quite loud
  • tiben36 - February 8, 2012 6:16 p.m.

    oh, and season 9 is when they jumped the shark best seasons are 4, 5 and 7
  • GR_HenryGilbert - February 8, 2012 6:18 p.m.

    I'm constantly shifting between seasons 4 or 5 as my personal "best season ever". Meanwhile, I think 12 is the worst season.
  • boronben - February 8, 2012 6:29 p.m.

    Oh Henry I really appreciated the lee Carvallo reference, you just made my day! I personally think the Simpsons like a cancer ridden 2 legged dog should be put down,I watched one of the newer episodes the other week and they are terrible!!!
  • Moondoggie1157 - February 8, 2012 6:35 p.m.

    Yea, I don't think I would have spent 10 dollars on it, buuuuuuut, PSN plus kinda made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Really fun game :D The last Simpsons episode I remember watching was the one with Tony Hawk, and Bart divorces his parents. I gave up after that.
  • tiben36 - February 8, 2012 6:41 p.m.

    yeah, same, just went worse and worse from mid season 9 (fuck Armin Tamzarian)
  • garnsr - February 8, 2012 7:39 p.m.

    I watched for a few more seasons, but 8 was the last good season, and it had a few episodes that were terrible precursors to what would be standard shortly thereafter. 7 was probably my favorite season altogether, and "You Only Move Twice" is one of my favorite shows, and a great way to start off the last season I enjoyed. It'd be cool if they did a digital version of the Simpsons pinball, too. We had it in our college snack bar, and I'd constantly hear it say, "It's Princess Cashmere!"
  • Moondoggie1157 - February 8, 2012 9:31 p.m.

    Haha that faintly rings a bell. One game I do miss is Krusty's Super Fun House (think thats the full name) for Genesis... Holy shit I played the hell out of that game...
  • Zeos - February 8, 2012 7:06 p.m.

    Yeah this game is not as fun as it was when I played in the arcades as a youngin'.
  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - February 9, 2012 12:14 a.m.

    My ridiculous Simpsons fandom and lots of fond memories are demanding that I buy this game. And "gameplay videos" will always be "FAPs" to me.
  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - February 9, 2012 12:38 a.m.

    Also, every time Henry goes "Eh? Eh? C'mon!" in this video, I want to yell at my computer, "I know what you're talking about!"
  • DirkSteele1 - February 9, 2012 2:17 a.m.

    Fair criticisms, however I was once asked if I could have one arcade game in my house from years gone by, which would it be? And I replied the Simpsons Arcade game. 4 player back then with three friends was a great experience. So might well pick this up.
  • DirkSteele1 - February 9, 2012 2:18 a.m.

    That or an 8 player sit down Daytona machine. But that would need a bit more room...
  • DecoyOctorok - February 9, 2012 4:57 a.m.

    $10 is too steep for something like this despite the nostalgia factor. I'll download it when it's a XBLA deal of the week.
  • funster - February 9, 2012 7:06 a.m.

    Much as I am a fan of the Simpsons, when the HECK are they going to release an arcade-perfect port of AD&D:Shadow Over Mystara?!?!
  • pr0tostar - February 9, 2012 3:29 p.m.

    Only place that ever had this near me was a Pizza Hut, and I'd BEG my parents to go there every week to play it.But yeah 10 bucks?! Try 5, and I'll wait for that lol.

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