The Simpsons is one of the funniest, smartest, and most popular television programs of all time. You would think for a show of its greatness, and since it first hit our screens in 1989, we would have a long and wonderful history of video games based on it, right? Well, a long history, yes. Since The Simpsons began we have seen no less than 24 different games in various incarnations and across a vast amount of platforms. But a wonderful history? Errrrr… not so much. There’s absolutely fucking terrible games based on The Simpsons out there. Thankfully though, there are a few exceptions. There’s Virtual Springfield, and adventure game released for PC’s in 1997. There’s The Simpsons Hit & Run, an action game inspired by the Grand Theft Auto series released in 2003. Then, most importantly, there’s the first game ever based on The Simpsons, which also happens to be the greatest, The Simpsons Arcade Game.
The Simpsons Arcade Game, a co-op side-scrolling beat-’em-up, was first unleashed on arcades across the world by developer Konami in 1991. It was built on the same engine as Konami’s own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game from 1989, therfore with the same sort of awesome gameplay. Earlier this month, it was recently ported in full to Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network, so it’s a great chance to revisit the game.
Man, as soon as I booted this mother fucker up, I couldn’t stop thinking about the old days, playing this for hours and hours in my local arcade. Hounding my mum for another 60 cents (we don’t have quarters in Australia, so you had to start the game using 3 20 cent pieces) so I could have just one more go. The Xbox and Playstation versions are direct ports of the original arcade game, unlike the shitty iOS version that was released in 2009, so for those of you who remember playing this game in the 90’s, the memories are going to flood back like crazy.
For those of you who haven’t played The Simpsons Arcade Game, the story breaks down like this. Smithers steals a diamond from a jeweller for Mr. Burns, but on the way out, he runs into the Simpson family. The diamond goes flying in the air, and lands in Maggie’s mouth. Smithers kidnaps Maggie, so the rest of the family are tasked with fighting through a shitload of henchman on the way to defeating Smithers and Mr. Burns, and rescuing Maggie. Like many games of the era, the game is broken down to a series of themed stages (including the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, Moe’s Tavern, Krustyland, and others) with a boss battle at the end of each. The game just keeps throwing more and more enemies at you, the idea being that the harder it is for you to get to the end, the more money you’ll have to pump into the machine to continue. Thankfully, in this day and age, one need only pay the 800 Microsoft Points, and you have unlimited access. Fuck yeah!
All the things you know and love about the original arcade game are here, including the old graphics, tinny voice sounds, and most importantly, the 4 player co-op, which is absolutely the best way to play. For a game that’s over 20 years old, it’s very well balanced and paced, with a good level of difficulty that will challenge most players, but not so much that you’ll want to tear your controller in half and yell “FUCK YOU!” at your television, and it’s a shitload of fun. There’s also lots of bonuses in this release, including access to the Japanese ROM of the game, a few different modes, and unlockables like art, music and sound effects.
Pro tip: when I was a kid, if I was playing solo, I would usually play as Bart. He seemed to be the easiest character to use.
So what are you waiting for, Dear Reader? Go download this mother fucker on your Xbox or Playstation now!
4 1/2 out of 5.
Now if they can just re-release Virtual Springfield too, I will be a very happy man.