It’s here! It’s finally here! The four-player co-op side scrolling beat-em-up based on The Simpsons TV show, which tore up arcades in the early 90’s, is now available on a home console at last! Play as Homer, Marge, Bart, or Lisa as they tromp through Springfield trying to rescue baby Maggie from Smithers and Mr. Burns. You can download this arcade classic hit on Xbox 360 and PS3 (360 version reviewed here).
Side-scrolling brawlers were a dime a dozen back in the early 90’s, thanks to hits like Final Fight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even this game. But what makes The Simpsons Arcade Game special was how much it looked and sounded like the TV show, especially for 1991. Characters, authentic voices, and various references to goings-on in the early seasons abounded.
Anyone who has played the TMNT game will be able to jump right into this one. You’ll bash thugs with Marge’s vacuum cleaner, Bart’s skateboard, and Lisa’s jump rope as you tromp though locations like downtown Springfield, Krustyland, and the Discount Cemetery. Pick up weapons and food items to help along the way. Two players can stand still together to perform a team attack. Up to four can play together locally or via Xbox LIVE.
Konami has added a few gameplay modes and surprises to the home version. Select from a variety of modes with limited quarter amounts to see how long you can last, or just use Free Play to make it to the end and save your laundry money. Multiple difficulty levels are there, too. You can also unlock the Japanese arcade ROM, which isn’t much different but adds a few new things here and there. Other unlockable goodies include development histories, flyers, sound tests, and more!
The Simpsons Arcade Game was in development during the first season of the show, so some characters hadn’t been fully established yet. Plus the game was made in Japan, which may explain some of the kookiness found here. Like why is Smithers a mad bomber and robber in the arcade game, as well as the extensive use of Matt’s Life in Hell bunny characters. Even though the game is simple by today’s standards, fans of the arcade game and Simpsons lore will definitely want to download this one right away!
The Simpsons Arcade Game is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Suggestive Themes, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol, and Fantasy Violence. The violence is mostly cartoony as you hit thugs and other bad guys with crazy weapons, and they disappear when defeated. The suggestive themes come from the dancers in the Moe’s Tavern stage, which is where the alcohol references are. The only bad language is when you let Bart stand still for a while, he’ll look at the screen and say, “Who the hell are you?” But if you’re OK with your kids watching The Simpsons TV show, they’ll be OK with this game, too. Especially since the game is based on the early seasons of The Simpsons, which were much tamer than today’s episodes. Honestly I’d be OK with any kid playing this, as it’s a great four player game that the whole family can enjoy, and it was pretty accessible in arcades back then, and can still be found in some places even now!
When I played this game in the arcades back then, I always played as Lisa because her joystick was on the far right side, and I was used to playing on the right since I always played as Raphael on the TMNT game, and his joystick was on the right, too. I think the arcade game helped me decide who my favorite Simpsons character was early on. Lisa was portrayed as being a smart kid who wasn’t perfect, which I appreciated since I was a smart kid and people would just assume I was perfect, too (which was annoying). But as the show evolved and Lisa turned into more of a tree hugger liberal and less of a believable kid character, my favorite Simpsons characters ended up being Mr. Sparkle and Ralph Wiggum. But for the sake of tradition, whenever a new Simpsons game came out, I would always pick Lisa first. Who are YOUR favorite Simpsons characters and games?
Oh I forgot! The Simpsons had a second foray in the arcades about ten years later with The Simpsons Bowling. It was a simple track ball bowling game for up to four players with PSOne era 3-D graphics. Me and my friends played it at a pizza parlor a long time ago. It was pretty fun, and the kept a lot of little things from the show, like Homer and Mr. Burns wore their team shirts from that one episode where Mr. Burns joined their bowling team! And yes, in the game, I picked Lisa.
And finally, here’s a bit of interesting trivia about the arcade game. Since it was created very early in the Simpsons first season, a lot of ideas that were scrapped from the show early on were still found in the game. I read that originally, Matt Groening was going to have Marge be a bunny from his Life in Hell comic, but with the ears hidden by her tall blue beehive hairdo. Naturally that idea was scrapped early on, but if you play as Marge in the arcade game, and get electrocuted and can see her skeleton, you can still see bunny ears! Try it!