Nukezilla Review: The Simpsons Arcade Game (PS3)
Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Konami were the kings of the arcade beat-’em-up. Sure, Double Dragon popularized arcade brawlers, and Final Fight has its fans, but between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and The Simpsons, Konami had the biggest games in the arcade… literally. Both Turtles and The Simpsons had four player cabinets, and while not available everywhere, X-Men had a 6-player version in some arcades.
I loved the Turtles arcade game and played a ton of X-Men until the machine in my hometown arcade finally died two or three years back, but I never got a chance to play The Simpsons Arcade Game, until now anyway.
After a 21-year wait, Konami finally released a console version of The Simpsons earlier this year for PSN and XBLA, finally giving fans a way to revisit classic game without tracking down one of the few remaining working arcade machines, and letting a whole new generation of fans take a crack at it.
The Simpsons Arcade Game plays fairly similar to most beat-’em-ups: walk down the street, mash the attack button at everything that moves, and learn the handfull of enemy attack patterns to keep the cheap, quarter-munching AI from killing you too often.
The story is an odd one, and every really explained, but serves as a reason to get the Simpson family up and running. Smithers, who for some reason is wearing a cape never seen in the show, is robbing a jewelry store for Mr. Burns (?), and as he exits, runs into the Simpsons. Maggie picks up a large diamond, and instead of taking it back from her, Smithers kidnaps her and runs off.
The four playable characters (Homer, Bart, Lisa and Marge) play fairly similarly with the exception of co-op attacks. When two characters attack together, different things will happen depending on which two are working together: Bart and Lisa clothesline enemies, Marge throws whichever kid she’s carrying, Homer gives piggy back rides to the kids for them to attack from higher up, and Marge and Homer form a human… wheel… thing, and roll around the screen.
The eight levels each have a distinct look, from Moe’s Tavern, which appears to be about five times the size of the bar in the show, to the surreal nightmare clouds of Dreamworld, and stay close to Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s art style.
The enemies almost seem like a parody of games of its day, as you’ll spend most of your time beating up guys in suits and old men. There are a few level specific variations like zombies in the Springfield Discount Cemetery, or ninja’s appearing on the set of a martial arts show that is for some reason being filmed at the local TV station, but none of them put up much of a challenge.
A few bonuses are included, like a timeline of the game’s development and the option to play the Japanese ROM instead (featuring slightly different item placement, health and scoring systems), but unless you like they game to begin with, they aren’t worth the price of admission on their own.
While there are definitely references to the TV show, don’t expect to see Homer wearing a Mr. Plow jacket or the Springfield Monorail in the background. This game came out in 1991, in the middle of the second season’s original TV run. Many of the better know jokes and characters wouldn’t show up until several years later.
All that said, it’s still a fun, old, arcade brawler worth a playthrough with friends every now and again, and it’s good to see it available at home, even if it did take them a couple decades.
This review is day eighteen of the December 2012 Nukestravaganza.