The Simpsons Arcade Game Review
In The Simpsons Arcade Game, we have Smithers (post-racial realignment, pre-hair dye), snatching babies for little apparent reason, cackling to himself as he makes off with them, through an array of colourful Springfield locations.
Returning to this arcade classic in the year 2012 does seem at best a little bizarre, given that the twenty intervening television seasons have portrayed a tortured, tragic soul behind Mr Burns’ assistant, rather than this uncaring, off-the-shelf henchman.
Were this game to be released now, as opposed to re-released, it could easily be interpreted as homophobic, given what we now know about Smithers as a character.
Still, motivation rarely plays a prominent role in an homage of this type, a Streets Of Rage knock-off so thorough you’ll be searching for rotisserie chicken hidden under every lamppost.
Across eight stages that clearly concentrate the quality of their design on their initial establishing shots, the Simpson clan must hack and slash in pursuit of Maggie, curiously kidnapped as described above.
Solo players can get stuck in with haste, and choose their favourite character to play with, while more patient souls might fancy occupying an Xbox Live lobby in hope of joining three other family members in battle. No doubt spouting series quotes more often than in the Nineties.
Such a promising formula turns to dust rather quickly, though. First, the characters themselves are about as balanced an new born foal, on a ball, on ice.
How the hired goons get a hit in at all, we’ve no idea.
While Marge players happily toss their vacuum cleaners around each arena, achieving a reach of which Mr Tickle would be proud, whoever’s in charge of Homer will feel like a T. Rex at a boxing competition, and not one that can just eat its opponents.
Second, there’s no ebb and flow to Konami’s combat. Though an acceptable number of different enemy types litter the streets, they’re defeated using almost precisely the same methodology.
The result of this is either an endless jumping and kicking marathon – again varying in potency between each player character – or a quiet resignation to the fact that lives will soon be lost.
You’re awarded forty credits anyway, right? Most boss encounters progress in similar fashion, as hammering and taking the occasional hit wins out over patiently waiting for the best moment to strike.
Indeed, Konami might have profited from mandating a punishing lives ration in this respect, simply to provide players with a sense of challenge.
Remember that nodding bird toy Homer employed to cover his power plant shift? He could use that to play this game to completion.
The Simpsons Video Game could be described as a relic best left as a memory – alongside its many Revenge Of Shinobi references. It stands only as a reminder of the videogame industry’s love of taking a basic concept and iterating it into non-existence, and will doubtless bore even the hardiest of potential players into submission long before its ‘insert coin’ screen.