|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 30, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
I'm often too busy to sit down and watch TV, but The Simpsons is one of those shows that I really make an effort to watch once a week. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes The Simpsons so funny, but it's likely a combination of the random behavior exemplified by so many of the characters and the fantastic, subtle humor that pervades all aspects of the show. But how well do those aspects of the show cross over to the Simpsons' newest DS adventure?
Well, for one, the humor that we all know and love from the TV show is very much present in the game. Homer is still off-the-wall crazy, and the dialogue is fantastic (this is likely because the writers for the show actually scripted the game!). But The Simpsons Game isn't just a videogame version of the show; instead, a lot of the game's humor is centered around the numerous jokes made about the video game industry. Tons of random references abound, and there are several moments when you'll actually laugh out loud thanks to a comment made (for example, a hilarious poke made at the game's publisher, Electronic Arts).
The gameplay itself is slightly lacking though. While it's pretty fun, it also lacks much depth and is pretty standard fare. You can take control of each member of the Simspons family, each with their own special abilities. Character swap points are provided for you, which unfortunately takes some of the customization out of the game -- it's never that tough to decide which character to use to overcome a particular obstacle. Also, unlike the game on other systems, The Simpsons Game for the DS plays out as a 2D sidesroller, rather than a 3D action game.
The only real problem is that as a platformer, The Simpsons Game is very basic. If you've ever played any platformer before, then you won't be at all surprised by The Simpsons Game. Levels are simple and straightforward, and contain little intricacy or complexity. Puzzles, which provided a challenge on other versions of the game, are conspicuously absent from this version of the game. There are some instances of creativity, but they tend to be few and far between, and most of the game's concepts are sorely overused. As you play through the game, you'll likely realize that this could have been a lot better as a 3D action game; as a platformer, it's just far too simple. One positive thing that comes up as a result of the game being 2D is that clunky camera issues, big problems in the console versions of the game, are not occurrences in the DS version.
There are a few slight RPG-ish elements to The Simpsons Game, but nothing really that huge. As the game progresses, different characters gain new abilities (for example, Bart becomes Bartman and gains the ability to fly). This mechanic is pretty neat and allows for some varied gameplay as the game progresses, but it's not customizable. That is, unlike in RPGs, you do not have the choice of which characters to specifically upgrade or when; rather, the game does it for you at predetermined points. The game is just very linear and doesn't allow much for exploration of customization, which is a pity -- there was clearly some potential here.
That's not at all to say, though, that The Simpsons Game isn't fun. On the contrary, for the most part, this game is a lot of fun to play. It's pretty easy and somewhat repetitive, but you'll still have an enjoyable time playing it. The platforming, while linear and simple, is still fun. The Simpsons Game really is a great example of how a DS game doesn't necessarily have to be groundbreaking or unique to be fun. The Simpsons Game is rather shallow, but at the same time, there are definitely some positive aspects to the gameplay mechanic.