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.
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.
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.