Springfield, Springfield, it's a hell of a town! So much so that The Simpsons has become the longest-running TV show in history, fast approaching a staggering 30 seasons on the air. And in the three decades since its debut, Springfield has been the backdrop for loads of games made to capitalize on the Simpson family's everlasting popularity. Most are cheap cash-ins, but some are surprisingly great - and it's time we do the 'unpossible' by ranking each and every last one of them, so you know where to get the best D'ohs and Ay Carambas in virtual form. Oh, and we're excluding The Simpsons Cartoon Studio, because it's basically a movie editor with no actual gameplay to speak of. Ha-ha!
25. 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.
24. The Simpsons Wrestling (PlayStation, 2000)
The PS1 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'?
23. 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 entry is not quite breakfast, not quite (breathes in an odd place) lunch... it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at ze end.
22. 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.
21. 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.
20. 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.
19. 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).
18. The Simpsons Arcade (Mobile, 2009)
What we have here is the mobile game equivalent of the time Kamp Krusty's crooked counselor tried to pass off a poorly costumed Barney as everyone's favorite clown. Ok, it's not that bad - but The Simpsons Arcade clearly tried to cash in on Konami's classic beat-'em-up of the same name (which you'll find much, much later on this list) with a clone that can't capture the same magic. This is still a sidescrolling, two-button brawler, but you can only play as Homer (occasionally tagging in the other Simpsons are power-ups), the environments and enemies are incredibly bland, the touchscreen controls take some getting used to, and there's no multiplayer whatsoever. Also, EA eventually purged it from mobile storefronts entirely. *Marge groan*
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've been recreated with (counts on fingers) maybe 5 different small sound files for the lyrics. 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 colorful 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...