Pros: Four player multiplayer both locally and online, trophies add replay value, Japanese rom.
Cons: Short game, no real challenge, no skill required.
For the month of February members of Playstation Plus got a lot of free games. The first game of any significance that we got was The Simpsons Arcade Game, which was released at the beginning of the month. While I would love to review Playstation Plus and call it the ‘best deal in gaming’ alas I see no category that properly fits under. So instead I will review the free games that the membership gives me. The Simpsons Arcade Game is exactly that, if you remember the early 90’s and the large box Simpsons arcade games at bowling alleys, laundry mats, and arcades (duh). Then you are familiar with The Simpson Arcade Game. I had played the arcade game a couple times before but the place that I remember it from is from the laundry mat that me and my wife used to go to, and waste a few laundry quarters every time on it.
For those that are not familiar with The Simpsons Arcade Game then let me give you a quick recap. It came out during the height of popularity for The Simpsons back in 1991, as well as the height of the popularity in Beat’em Up style arcade games. If you have ever played the games Final Fight, TMNT Turtles in Time, or X-Men then you will get the gist of what The Simpsons Arcade Game is all about. Not only was it developed by the same company as all three of those games (Konami) but it also features four player simultaneous play like the latter two did.
The game setup is that the Simpson family is harmlessly just walking down the street when Mr. Smithers and his goons rob a jewelry store (under the orders of Mr. Burns), when Smithers bumps into the family throwing a large diamond into the air, which Maggie catches with her mouth replacing the pacifier. Smithers promptly kidnaps Maggie for the diamond (instead of simply taking it out of her mouth) which leaves Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa to fight through hundreds of Burn’s goons in order to save Maggie. This journey takes them across several recognizable locals from The Simpsons show, including the nuclear power plant, Krustyland, and Moe’s Tavern to name a few.
There are a total of eight levels in The Simpsons Arcade Game, each one ending with a boss fight. It plays just like a quarter eating Beat’em Up always did. The gameplay boils down to using the two buttons of control, attack and jump, along with the joystick to move around in order to pummel hoards of bad guys. Even the most novice of gamer can figure out how to play this game, walk over and bash that attack button. If you are sick of getting hit or need to hit a group to jump kicks, or the power attack that you do by pressing both buttons at once.
While there are eight different levels with different bosses and a variety of different goons to dispose of there really is only one way to deal with all of them, mash those buttons. Which is one of the drawbacks of this retro arcade game, and that is that it has overly simplistic gameplay. Toss on top of that the fact that the game only take around forty minutes to beat and that miniscule price tag of $10 starts to seem a bit hefty (unless you got it free, HAHA suckers!).
The Simpsons Arcade Game is in fact a port of the actual arcade game itself, there are no new HD graphics or remastered sound here, so needless to say the game itself feels dated in that way, and really feels like a waste of my HD TV. Although you can go into the options to smooth out the jaggies a bit, it still isn’t much of an upgrade at all. The graphics are colorful and are vintage Simpsons that is for sure, so the graphics though dated do still hold some charm. The sound has no upgrades over the original 1991 arcade though, which is good and bad. The actual voice actors lent their talents to the original game and they still sound just like Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa, although they only say a few lines over and over. The Simpsons music plays out pretty well along with the many sound effects in the game, which are primarily dominated by the sound of the Simpsons attacking and/or the sound of them landing hits.
Thankfully Konami didn’t completely cheap out and actually did include some new enhancements and additions to the package. First of all they included the Japanese Rom of the game as an unlockable after you beat the American version. The Japanese Rom is almost identical except they changed some of the scoring, allowed the characters to have more than 100% health, gave out more health items, and also head-scratchingly enough included Atom Bombs as special weapons in the Japanese Rom (seems a tad insensitive to me too). Trophies are also supported to give the game a little more replay value and challenge along with the most important feature the ability to mix online and local multiplayer play so that you always have the opportunity to play the game the way it was meant to be played, with up to three other people all the time.
I have played through the game several times, both multiplayer locally and online, and I must say the game is a good deal of fun both ways. However that fun is short lived since the game is quite repetitive and short to begin with. You can try to add more variety and challenge to the game by trying ‘Survival’ mode or ramping up the difficulty to Expert, but it is still the same basic game. And in all but the most extreme modes the game still gives you plenty (if not infinite) quarters to complete the game without worry.
Overall I am not going to complain one bit about getting this game as a freebie, but if I were to have dished out $10 for it I would feel a little shorted. For nostalgias’ sake this game is some good fun, but it really doesn’t compare to a Beat’em Up masterpiece like Castle Crashers, but then again this game was made in 1991 so I should give it some slack. The game is good mindless fun, albeit short and dated fun, for that I have to give it at least three stars out of five, even though there isn’t much meat to the game.