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Yeah, I like The Simpsons. And before you jump down my throat, I’m well aware the writing took a shit some time ago. I agree that the quality of the show isn’t like it used to be during its golden age but I still get some chuckles out of it. The Simpsons was a huge show in its heyday spawning merchandise and even games. One of those games was an arcade release titled The Simpsons. It was developed and published by Konami and released in 1991. It was ported to the Commodore 64 and DOS that same year and Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in 2012. Unfortunately, it was removed from the latter two services some time ago
The story goes that after Smithers steals a diamond from a jewelry shop for Mr. Burns, he collides with the Simpsons family and the diamond lands in Maggie’s mouth. Smithers kidnaps Maggie and the family chases him across Springfield. The characters will shout lines during gameplay and the voice actors for The Simpsons family lend their voices to the game. Unfortunately, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer did not lend theirs. As a result of Harry’s absence, Smithers and Mr. Burns sound odd.
The Simpsons is a beat’em up. You can play as one of four members of The Simpsons family and the game does support up to four players. You can perform different attacks and jump and two players can team up to perform a special attack. This attack will differ depending on which two characters are used. Each character has their own attack style. Homer punches and kicks, Marge swings a vaccuum cleaner, Bart uses a skateboard, and Lisa wields a jump rope. Defeating an enemy rewards you with a point so your score doubles as a kill count.
Being an arcade game, The Simpsons is tough but we found it to be a bit easier than its contemporaries. Most of the common foes go down after a couple of hits but all enemies can be relentless with attacks so knowing when to strike and evade is important. With more players comes more enemies and to aid you on your quest is food which replenishes health and various things that can be picked up and thrown at foes, including the Simpsons’ pets. You can also wield weapons for a short time. Weapons and food can not only be found in the environments but are also delivered by different characters from the show.
The Simpsons is a simple game. There’s really not much to it. You move through stages, beating up enemies by mashing the attack and jump buttons. It is more enjoyable with friends but despite the different attack styles, there’s not much depth to the action. There’s very little reason to replay through the game. Even the scoring system in simple. From what I understand, the Japanese version of the game includes quite a few changes like a different scoring system, a bomb that can clear the screen of enemies, and hidden items.
The game plays out in stages. There’s eight regular stages and two bonus stages which have you mashing buttons for bonus points. You’ll get to navigate around different locations in Springfield including a downtown area, Krustyland, cemetery, the wilderness, Dreamland, Channel 6 television station, Moe’s Tavern, and the Nuclear Power Plant. Enemies will come from every direction including the backgrounds so you’re always going to be outnumbered and must be alert at all time. Enemies will punch and kick, use weapons, they can grab you, and throw objects. You’ll get to take down goons, zombies, Krusty look-a-likes, and Dreamland features some of the more unique enemies in the game like Donuts, Saxophones, and Bart Devils. The game does get more challenging the further you progress and each regular stage ends with a boss.
Visually, the game looks dated and there’s nothing too fancy going on but it is a decent reflection of the show. It’s colorful, the animations are good and often silly, and the action is accompanied by an okay soundtrack. Much of it sounds very Konami and not very Simpsons. However, the game does include a decent rendition of the show’s theme song. Characters don’t interact but they do shout lines during gameplay, many of which are just classic lines from the show. The sounds of attacks and impacts sound cartoon-y but in general, the audio work is just as tame as the gameplay. On the technical side, we did not encounter any issues.
Honestly, I’m a little disappointed in The Simpsons arcade game. I’ve wanted to play this for a while and because it’s from Konami, I expected a little more. One of my favorite arcade beat’em ups is Konami’s own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time which released the same year as this so I’m little surprised it’s not better. There’s nothing really wrong with the game and it doesn’t feel borderline impossible like other arcade games but there’s not much to it.
I would recommend The Simpsons to anyone that likes beat’em ups but there are better games in the genre. If you’re a fan of the show, you might get a kick out of it but I would recommend you play it with some friends. Ultimately, The Simpsons arcade game is your typical beat’em up with a Simpsons coat of paint.