reviews\ Feb 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

The Simpsons Arcade Game Review


It’s been requested for like the longest time, and for good reason.  Konami’s 1991 arcade take on The Simpsons is, without a doubt, one of the best video games the animated family has ever seen.  Granted, that’s mostly because the home games featuring the likes of Homer, Bart and the rest of the clan have outright sucked, namely garbage like Virtual Bart and Bart vs. the Space Mutants.  Konami was just able to “get” that certain something that made them click, rather than surrounding them with lame gameplay aspects.

Now, 21 years after the arcade game’s release, we finally get a meaningful home port, courtesy of Konami.  Of course, it was a smart business move on their part, since both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men: The Arcade Game did fairly well on the download front.  But kudos to the developers at Backbone Entertainment, who have not only retained all the glory of the original coin-op, but added some great bonus goodies to boot.

In the game, you choose from Bart, Lisa, Homer or Marge as they set out to rescue baby Maggie, who’s been kidnapped by Smithers after she interrupts their jewel heist and gets a big diamond stuck in her mouth.  Over the course of eight stages, you’ll battle all sorts of goons while picking up food items and weapons, ranging from bowling balls to living animals, like Snowball II.  At the end of each stage, a boss awaits, including a blown-up Krusty balloon, a weird-looking Kabuki dude, and, one of the best end bosses in a video game, Montgomery Burns in a multi-transforming robot suit.  “Excellent.”

The gameplay itself is sheer beat-em-up action, so Konami doesn’t reinvent the wheel – nor does it need to.  This is blissful arcade gaming at its best, and it’s fun to play through, even if the run ends in like 30 to 45 minutes.  You can also play with friends, either locally or online through Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network.  From the sessions we tried, it works just fine, even if folks are just dropping in to help you beat up a bear in the forest.  (Yes, that’s right, a bear.)

But the Simpsons Arcade Game also comes with bonus features.  Once you beat it the first time around, you’ll unlock the Japanese mode, featuring some alternate text and mild changes.  You’ll also unlock extra goodies with each playthrough using certain characters, including promotional flyers and posters, along with a diverse Simpsons character guide.  We didn’t even spot Itchy and Scratchy until this feature pointed out where they were.

In addition, extra modes are available, including a Survival mode, where you try to beat as many people as you can with one life (good luck); and Quarters, where you have a specific amount of credits, just like an arcade game.  (Free Play is also available.)

While The Simpsons hasn’t exactly aged well in terms of graphics, they are arcade perfect, right down to Homer’s ignorant blinking as he walks and Marge’s brutal assaults with a vacuum cleaner.  Additional options are worth noting, including a sharp/smooth graphic filter and the default sized arcade screen.  As for audio, you’ve got plenty of character voices (“I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?”), along with decent (though a little annoying) music and cartoon-style sound effects.

We’ve waited for ages to see The Simpsons Arcade Game get a home release, and now that it has, we’re completely fulfilled by it.  Not only is the game itself arcade perfect, but the bonus options and inclusion of online play will make it a party favorite for some time.  So get rid of that Space Mutants cartridge and enjoy The Simpsons the way they were meant to be played, man.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]


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