Why can’t my family be this chaotic?
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.
It’s clear that the developers put quite a bit of hard work into this game, rather than just hashing out a DS version of an already-created console title. The most obvious example of this, of course, is that it’s a platformer rather than an action game. But another example is that The Simpsons Game employs the DS touch screen occasionally — and uses it surprisingly well. For example, a special ability of Lisa’s involves using a mystic hand to pick up items and manipulate objects. For this task, the touch screen is put to work — you use the screen to pick up random objects and throw them at foes. While this may not seem particularly exciting, the game actually implements ideas like this quite well, and they provide a breath of fresh air in an otherwise tedious (albeit admittedly fun) gaming experience.
The graphics and sound are also surprisingly good, especially seeing as this is a licensed game. The game’s visuals are decidedly cartoony, and do a fantastic job of really emulating the feel of the show. The music, likewise, does a great job of pulling enjoyable aspects from the show and inserting them in the game. The tunes are catchy and fun, and combined with the graphics really serve to immerse you in the fictional town of Springfield.
Another slight problem with The Simpsons Game is that it’s clearly not geared toward the hardcore gamer. The game is fairly short — around six to eight hours of gaming time. It’s also pretty straightforward and easy. As mentioned before, the game is quite linear and simplistic. Those of you that have played platformers before will have no trouble breezing through this game in a few hours. It’s an easy game and a short one: a pretty deadly combination when it comes to whether or not to purchase a game. In fact, unless you’re a huge Simpsons fan, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing this one; instead, give it a rent. It offers some fun gaming, but you’ll beat it to easily to make it worth a 30 dollar purchase.
Overall, while it does sport some flaws, The Simpsons Game for the DS is a solid gaming experience. Platformers may be an overdone genre of games, but The Simpsons Game does a decent job of providing a good game, while not necessarily an innovative one. The graphics and music are fantastic and do a great job of supporting a slightly stumbling gameplay mechanic. And overall, while there are a few significant problems, The Simpsons Game is fun enough to be worth the time you spend to play it.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.1 Graphics
For DS graphics, they’re surprisingly good. The visuals are a throwback to the TV shows. 3.2 Control
The controls are pretty standard fare for platformers. They work, but they’re not particularly unique. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Like the graphics, the music in this game is great. They’re wonderfully immersive and are catchy and fun. 2.6
The game is fun, but it’s disappointingly short and easy.
3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.