The Simpsons Game first impressions

Electronic Arts just announced their tie-in title for The Simpsons Movie, and the development team hopes to create "the most original game ever." We'll look past the fact that it's already culling ideas from a licensed property and just continue on with the news.

Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa are all playable characters once again, but there's a twist - at the beginning of the game the family learns they've just been licensed for use in a video game. Everything beyond that point is pretty much mocking the entire industry in a fun, family-friendly way. One scene we saw at the game's unveiling showed Bart gaining super powers by simply reading the instruction manual, so expect plenty of self-aware nods to animation, gaming and movies in general.

The Simpsons Game (clever, clever title) will be divided into 16 episodes (levels) and will be entirely co-op for two players. If you're going alone, you can switch back and forth between either chosen character at any time. Images of the classic arcade game sprung into our heads, a title that's basically the same game as XBLA's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A heavy emphasis will be placed on teaming up with that second character, as we'll go ahead and detail now.

Bart, who can don his Bartman cape and ride air currents, uses Lisa's help to get through a level. What can Lisa do? After finding a Clobber Girl comic she becomes more powerful, offering her brute strength to the cause. Also, Lisa can obtain the Hand of Buddha, a device that enables her to reshape the level in all sorts of ways. In this case, she moves boulders to make a path for Bart, or manipulates the area so that air currents carry Bartman to higher areas. Once there, he can find a way to bring Lisa up so they can finally stop Mr. Burns from leveling tree after tree... to make designer toothpicks.

Now for the bits 'n' pieces: the game will feature 8000 lines of dialogue all recorded by the show's voice actors and, more importantly, features a truly unique visual style that looks like the show. Normally when the Simpsons world is translated to 3D, certain objects don't look right (Lisa's hair, for one). Here, everything maintains its 2D look regardless of camera placement, so the world never looks out of place as some areas of the 2003 smash Hit & Run did.

The Simpsons Game will hit stores this fall, probably in time for the movie's DVD release. Expect a barrage of assets soon.

May 9, 2007