The Simpsons Arcade Game. Konami (1991) Arcade

The Simpsons Arcade Game is one of those frequently discussed games, this is partly because everyone and their dog has played it. But I think mostly it is because it was one of those early signs Konami were fucking mental. You see it used to be available on all the virtual consoles such as XBOX Live Arcade, but because Konami seemingly don’t want to make money they pulled almost their entire back catalogue as they threw the baby out with the bathwater.

But enough about Konami and their current incompetence, what about 1991, and how The Simpsons Arcade holds up today?


Well The Simpsons Arcade is a beat ’em up. You pick a control stick and you’re that character. This is to say you don’t insert coin and pick Bart, if you put your money in the Marge slot you’re Marge which sucks if you accidentally pick Lisa. Being a beat ’em up you walk left to right and whomp a number of things in your way. Homer punches, Bart whacks people with his skateboard, Marge pokes people with a hover, and nobody would play as Lisa when four f us go ttogether so we assume she bonks people with her shitty Saxophone (Side note, she uses a jump rope).

The basic premise is Mr Burns cronies has stolen a diamond, runs out the shop and bumps into the Simpsons. The Diamond and Maggie’s pacifier fly up in the air and the Diamong lands plump in Maggie’s mouth. Smithers rather than taking the diamond kidnaps Maggie and off the remaining Simpsons go off in search of Mags.


All Beat ‘Em Ups fall down if the difficulty isn’t right and sadly Simpsons falls into this trap. The main problem is it starts rock hard and never gets any harder or easier. All enemies hit too hard and they will rinse 30-40% of your health with one hit, they will gank you and not let up until you’re dead. On top of this they will flank you and once one is either side of you say bye to your life. There is also the issue that when you finish a level your life doesn’t regenerate. So that boss that will hit like a freight train that you wil burn 2-3 credits killing will also result in another death early in the next round.

I know this is classic arcade beat ’em up rules, but this isn’t the simple git gud gameplay, it is just eat your credits and badly designed. There isn’t really any depth to the moves either, spam punch or jump kick and that is almost your entire moveset. So once you’ve seen the first level or 2 there isn’t actually much reason to continue. However, there are 8 levels in total which once your beyond the premise of playing as the Simpsons, you’ll tire of it.


Simpsons Lore

Being released in 1991, and therefore developed during 1990-91, Simpsons Arcade is made very early in the Simpsons universe. However there are inconsistencies, characters like Dr Marvin Monroe and Otto work at the carnival. However, enough of the established areas are seen as locations. Moe’s Bar, Channel Six, Krusty Land (didn’t know that existed in 1990/1) the crappy forrest area the Simpsons visit in that ONE episode about camping.

Smithers is white, which is actually correct as he had Michael Jackson’d himself between season 1 and 2.

Obligatory lift section


You know what I don’t have much to say. The Simpsons Arcade isn’t bad, it was probably OK for the time, but pretty much every arcade game at the time had something more interesting (Final Fight, Bucky O’Hare) that didn’t rely on a cultural phenomenon and they tended to have some depth beyong two attacks. Almost everything released on the Home Consoles or Home Console Ports was better, especially games like Streets of Rage or Turtles in Time. Simpsons Arcade is however better than games like Golden Axe or Double Dragon.

Also, since Konami are douchebags you’re unlikely to be able to get a virtual console version any time soon. This leaves you with finding this game in the arcade. In which case you’ll enjoy it in doses. And if your anything like me will probably get bored after 2-3 levels or run out of credits because it is brutally unfair in it’s difficulty.

Pros: Looks good, is the Simpsons

Cons: Just a bit too boring, lacks depth and too hard


Back in the Day:

Simpsons Arcade scored 4.5 out of 5 stars with arcade reviewers, it was also voted the best arcade game of all time by Screwattack for some reason.

I'm awesome. I write about videogames occasionally but spend most time painting and playing Warhammer in varying formats.

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Posted in Arcade
11 comments on “The Simpsons Arcade Game. Konami (1991) Arcade
  1. GH says:

    People rave about this game, but I imagine time hasn’t been kind to it. I think the love is because it was only released in the arcades so you never saw bad ports (i.e Double Dragon)

    I haven’t played The Simpsons in years, but I imagine that it’s aged better than some. Final Fight comes to mind…it’s an absolute slog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Final Fight is a pain because it is so brutally hard and unfair once you get passed the 2nd level.

      Simpsons is just repetitive, playing it with 3 mates in a free arcade recently we got bored by the 2nd or 3rd level and gave up.

      There was virtual console versions of Simpsons arcade, and I can remember idiots trying to sell their hard drives for £200-300 because they had working copies of Simpson’s Arcade

      Liked by 1 person

      • GH says:

        Really? Yikes, that’s ridiculous. I remember not being too bothered at the time because, outside of the arcade, those games lose their appeal.

        Agree on Final Fight…the piledriver is the only way to stay sane…God help you if you’re Cody and/or Guy….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cirsova says:

    I actually had the PC port as a kid. And yeah, it was hard. At one point, I actually managed to get to the fight with Burns where he’s in some robot suit, and I almost beat him, but you know, beat’em-up ports and their limited continues… grumble grumble…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jesus I’m amazed you got that far!!!

      The arcade I go to is pay to get in and machines are free. If I paid for each credit would have cost me £10-15 to complete it. Maybe more


      • Cirsova says:

        I wanna say the PC port was something like 5 lives and 3 continues. I don’t know if it was real or imagined, but I was pretty sure Marge had the longest reach on the strike frame with Homer having the shortest. So, I always mained with Marge and would try to hit baddies from the edge of her attack’s range.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think you’re right about the attack ranges, Homer hit hardest but it often didn’t really matter.

        On the arcade version it is 2 (3 including 0) lives per credit. So took me 30+ lives to beat it with 10 on Burns alone. He has 3 forms all insane.


      • Cirsova says:

        It has been over 20 years since I played it, but I recall skinnies taking 2 hits and fatties taking 3, regardless of who I picked. Never played enough as the other characters to really know if there was significant variance on damage against bosses or stronger enemies. I seem to remember that most, if not all, of the non-boss baddies were just variants on those two (like literally those two guys wearing costumes).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds about right, I’ve actually forgotten now. There were bunny rabbits and stuff like that, but I think they all worked as skinny dudes


  3. Stan Rezaee says:

    The game has its issues by today’s standards but I do enjoy playing it for the nostalgia and it still attracts a massive crowd at any arcade that has it.

    Liked by 1 person

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