The Simpsons Arcade Game

Bart’s shirt is the wrong color.  Sideshow Bob helps him instead of tries to kill him.  99.9% of all the characters established in the canon don’t show up.  All the enemies are completely generic characters.  None of the bosses outside of Mr. Burns and Smithers are from the TV series.  The whole game is just a reskinned version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that some guys at Konami probably threw together in a weekend.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the best Simpsons game ever.  Only it’s not.  It fucking sucks, but you should already know that.

And yes, I’m aware that the wrestler guy that’s the first boss was actually from the episode where Bart tries to jump Springfield Gorge on his skateboard.  The bear doesn’t count, because it’s actually just one of the generic guys in a bear suit.  I’m also aware that the game originally came out in 1991 and that I shouldn’t be so nit-picky about those things.  To that I say this: fuck you.  The Simpsons Arcade Game is a fossil that should have been left in the tar pits of non-release obscurity.

Remember that episode where the family started brawling with quintuplet accountants riding teacups?

Don’t look at me that way.  I’m not attacking your childhood or raping your memories.  That’s a George Lucas move.  I’m not even saying the Simpsons was a bad game for back in the day.  Hey, it was either play the Simpsons Arcade or, like, go outside and exercise or something.  Psssh, what kind of loser would do that?

What I am saying is maybe those memories are better left where they are.  The Simpsons Arcade Game, much like Ninja Turtles or X-Men, has not exactly aged well.  Let’s face it, it’s a relic.  And not one of those good, Sean Connery type ones.  As much as the concept of it baffles me, I can almost understand going back and playing stuff like Final Fantasy VII for the twentieth time.  I think there should be mandatory castration for anyone who does so (not that they’ll ever actually use those parts, but you can never be too cautious), but I can almost understand it.  But an arcade brawler that was, quite frankly, a lazily produced reskin of an existing game designed to sucker lunch money out of children?   Why would you want to go back and play that?

And yet, since the announcement of it a few weeks ago, teenagers of the early 90s are going gaga.  I had never actually played the Simpsons Arcade Game, outside of one attempt at a Pizza Hut when I was like six years old.  The joystick was broken and I couldn’t move to the right, which is one of only two requirements the game actually has.  I got my quarter back and thought nothing of it until I heard the announcement.  I planned to ignore it, but it came free with a Playstation Plus account and I’ve never turned down a chance to troll you retro nerds before, so why start now?

I think the appeal in the Simpsons Arcade Game is the same as Sonic CD: it was the “lost game” in the series.  It never got a home console port due to some licensing issues and thus it became a legend.  As teenagers grew older and their minds became more polluted with various drugs, alcohol, children of their own, and all the Simpsons gaming crapola that has come out since then, those memories of the Simpsons Arcade Game became pretty fuckin’ sweet.

Remember that episode where the Simpsons dropped acid and fought a giant bowling ball?

I promise you, the Simpsons Arcade Game is not as good as you remember it.  I know this because I’ve yet to hear a single person tell me that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Reshelled was as good as they remember it.  And at least that one had updated its graphics.  They couldn’t even bother with that here.  This is a lazy port of a lazy game, and you can tell it was produced early in the show’s run.  The character models are way off, the voices are off, and the game is forced to use so many generic characters because the cast of millions the show currently uses wasn’t established yet.

So here’s a wild idea: if they had the rights to make this game, why couldn’t they have produced an updated port to go with it?  Leave the original game intact so that people could see how horrible it is, and then throw them something newer, using all the crazy space-age technology that leprechauns have given us over the last twenty years?

Actually, EA did a port of the Simpsons Arcade Game for iOS.  I have it, and I tried to play through it, but it’s fucking impossible.  This is mostly due to the fact that it uses one of those God-awful fake joysticks-and-button layouts that is about as accurate as a dart player whose injected his hands with Novocaine.  But imagine if they had ported that over to consoles.  I mean, that game actually has characters from the series.  You fight Chief Wiggum, Mayor Quimby, and various other fan favorites.  It might not be the exact same game as your childhood fantasy, but it actually might be better.  You know, if you could control it.

Or, even better, build an entirely new game modeled after the original arcade title, but replace all the generic baddies with random characters from the series that you fight only once, locations based on the series that actually look like they might have appeared on the series (Moe’s Tavern is a quarter-mile long casino.  Who knew?), and add some modern twists.  Use Castle Crashers as the basis for it.  Leveling up, a variety of weapons, branched paths, hidden items, and so on, and so on.  Why settle for something that was designed to steal your money as a child?  Don’t you deserve better?  Well, no.  I suppose you don’t.  If you actually gave away $10 for this piece of shit, ay caramba, there is no helping you.

The Simpsons Arcade Game was developed by Konami

Going off the math of how many free games and discounts I’ve gotten with my Playstation Plus account, approximately $0.38 was spent playing Teenage Reskinned Ninja Simpsons in the making of this review.  TOO MUCH!

The Simpsons Arcade for iOS was developed by EA and costs $0.99.  For God’s sake, do not buy it. 

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The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

26 Responses to The Simpsons Arcade Game

  1. Glad to see I’m not the only one who thought that The Simpsons Arcade Game should have been left behind all those years ago. People need to differentiate between “nostalgia” and “still good today” quite a lot more than they do.

  2. This game was clearly always a cash-in. Back in 1991, the Simpson were the biggest thing in the playground. I remember kids at school being unable to shut up about how amazing Bart was. It was groundbreaking, and children would have played and loved this game even if it was literally a turd with a sticker of Bart’s face on it.

    Is it just me or does that trailer (and presumably the game itself) contain music that tries very hard to sound LIKE the Simpsons theme without ever actually BEING it? Don’t spend any more money than you absolutely must, Konami!

    Also, I really don’t know why but “TOO MUCH!” is the part that made me laugh the most…

  3. plezfiction says:

    I played it a bit yesterday on the “real arcade machine” we have at the shop and also on PS3 Linux… wasn’t too impressed. And $10 for XBLA, “free” for PS Plus, and $0.99 for iOS?

    You did get me interested in that Hit & Run game though. Might see if I can find a cheap copy of the original Xbox version of that.

  4. funinfused says:

    The SNES version of TMNT: Turtles in Time is a far better version than the Reshelled port. Let’s pretend Reshelled doesn’t exists.

    These style of games in general don’t translate great to consoles because of their non-arcadeness. Life and death meant a little more when 25 or 50 cents was on the line. Unlimited or high amounts of continues ruins these games because they essentially have no penalty for death.

    I see this game a lot like Altered Beast. It’s fun for what it is. It’s not groundbreaking but if I see it at an arcade and I have some spare change, there’s a good chance I’ll spend a few minutes playing. If I have a friend over, I may just sit down and play through a few levels and I’ll certainly have a good time doing it.

  5. Paul says:

    Man, I’m so happy this game happened. I just had a blast playing through it and beating it for probably the first time. I like it purely because of nostalgia and would find it super-boring if I was playing it for the first time in 2012, but I still had at least $10 worth of fun.

  6. Professor Fessor says:

    I needed this port. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with most of what you said about it, but way back when I was just a little Professor I had the little-known PC port of the game that I played on my shitty computer in all of its 4 color glory. I could never get past the bowling ball, I ‘needed’ to get past the bowling ball. Now I can move on.

    One thing that is important and lost about these old beat-em-ups is back in the day when you only had a dollar to play 4 games while your mom was shopping, you never got to see much of the game. I used to camp the machine and wait for someone to drop a few bucks to get past the first two stages and then jump in to continue their game. Later stages became the stuff of legend and many false accounts were made about what happened in them at school. The potential fun of later stages clouded my view of the game and made it seem better than it actually was. I still remember seeing Turtles in Time at the arcade for the first time just after my birthday and dropping 20 bucks into it just so I’d be the one with the stories to tell and no one could tell me any lies. It’s an artificial type of fun and it’s better left in the past, but as a damned youth looking back on this stuff, you should really understand why we liked it.

    But I disagree with making a newer version, I disagree with anyone putting any more money into this game, customers or developers, than they already have. The Simpsons are not capatible with gaming and no one should try to force them. Maybe an adventure game, but who the hell even plays those anymore?

  7. JazFusion says:

    Only the cool kids played Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat 2 at the arcade. I asked my mom that Halloween to make me a Kitana costume, but that didn’t go over so well.

    I’ll admit, I DID enjoy the Simpsons Arcade and TMNT, but sad to say, nostalgia cannot win me back.

    I never carry quarters with me anymore, anyways. My purse thanks me.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      Why would you carry quarters these days? The only arcade games I see around are hunting sims and racing games, usually stamped with a “Fast & Furious” license.

      I’m only 22, so I kind of missed the age of arcade games. But even if I hadn’t, I can’t imagine the Simpsons or Ninja Turtles would have been “the shit” when there were much more complex games, such as Street Fighter II.

      The thing about the Simpsons is, it really is so fucking lazy. This type of game makes sense for Ninja Turtles. All the nameless, faceless generic baddies works if they’re the Foot Clan. Just random dudes in business suits and fat guys wearing ties. What the fuck is that?

      • JazFusion says:

        I guess really boils down to being a kid and being in the moment. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, TMNT and the Simpsons were huge TV hits. In school I waded in a sea of, “Eat My Shorts” and “¡Ay, caramba!” shirts. As well, arcades were massively popular, and usually you had to wait hours just to play the most popular games, such as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. (Hours might have been more like 15 minutes, but hey, what is time to a 10 year old?)

        My other theory, and this is probably the most prominent, is – no one wanted to look stupid. How could you say you loved the Simpsons, or TMNT, if you didn’t love the games? Kids can really like some dumb shit just to save face at the lunch table.

        If you even got to sit at the lunch table. Ha!

        P.S. – I carry quarters with me again because stores still put those goddamn candy/toy machines everywhere. And sometimes it’s just easier to let the kid have the crappy candy/toy, rather than carry them screaming out of the store. Jesus, I wish those goddamn machines would die in a fire.

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  11. f4k3jfgj says:

    I wonder which version was the one released.

    The original Japanese version of the game is the only one worth playing really, because it’s not silly to the point of being unfair (you can pick up health items to increase your health beyond the max, it’s much more reasonably beat ‘em up difficulty) as well as has more attack items to use like nukes lying around. It also has all the English from the American release, so no language barriers, etc.

    Should also note that the game plays differently from TMNT when you’re in multiplayer. Each of the family members gets a team attack with each other that changes depending on the character combinations. Marge’s throwing the kids is actually pretty damn effective. Still fairly bland compared to a good technical beat ‘em up like Streets of Rage 2, but there’s plenty worse out there.

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  14. Ninjinister says:

    Re-Shelled was better than the arcade game.

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