The Simpsons Poke Fun at the Gaming Universe!
EA has proved that The Simpsons can still show up on video games. Not everything had been done, even though there have been Simpsons games in the market since 1991. Luckily, the Simpsons Game has it all! It’s the best Simpsons video game ever delivered, thanks to its great dose of humor and innovation. All Simpsons fans out there should definitely play this game and speak for themselves! Those who don’t like The Simpsons shouldn’t bother to pick up the title though, as all the magic resides on the charm of this highly stereotypical American family.
This game is different than others because it compiles several gaming genres into one. You’ll see it all here, from platforming, to puzzling, shooting, simulation, and strategy. Using the incomparable humor that characterizes the show, the game is a pure parody of multiple classic and newer games and movies we all know about, as well as a caricature and commemoration of the show itself; this was partly possible thanks to the participation of the writers of the critically acclaimed TV series. Not only will you play through levels like Medal of Homer, Grand Theft Scratchy, Attack of the Dolphins, Neverquest, and more, but you’ll also run by several posters that will just crack you up. I vividly remember the Calamari Damacy Poster, Maddening, and Mega-Mole Man. Have you guessed which games they’re referring to?
The Simpsons Game story couldn’t be more simple and yet more captivating. Bart gets a hold of a video game manual that teaches him that he and his family have special powers. It’s so exciting that he quickly tells his dad, his mom, and Lisa; soon enough they’ll all be putting their powers to good use (and bad, sometimes). Stopping the invasion of game violence and saving the trees are some of the tasks they’ll be liable for. You’ll get to fight random characters like Sonic, Madden players, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter characters, and more! It seems like a totally disjointed story that magically comes together to create the greatest spoof video game of all time.
This game will let you see all of Springfield’s citizens in one way or another. Only the five that make up the Simpsons family are playable, but it’s more than enough to have a great time. Homer can turn into a fat and round ball that bumps into places and people, razes structures, and causes pure havoc wherever it goes! He will need to digest some calories before he can turn into “Homerball.” He can also burp to stun his enemies. Some other power-ups can be found along the way, like the Gummy Venus DeMilo and the Insanity Pepper, which give him powers like turning into Gummy-Homer (causes even more destruction!) or transforming into a ball of lava (makes him invincible). Bart can use his slingshot to target and shoot enemies and other items or the Bartcape to parachute from high places and glide down to other areas. The hookshot acts like the typical grappling hook, and ziplines allow him to travel from one place to another, escape from enemies, etc. He can also pick up the RoboBart suit, which lets him shoot laser beams for a short period of time. Marge always had the soul of a leader. The game gives her the chance to take over and exercise that leadership with Pikimin-style action. The megaphone gives her the power of command, leading Moe, Ms. Krabappel, Apu, and others towards her goals. Believe it or not, Marge will cause a lot of destruction in this game, making her mob attack enemies, wipe out public property, etc. With her “sonic attack” she’ll knock out the enemies in the area. If she happens to find the police officer’s cap, she’ll turn into a serious cop! – She’ll become even more powerful and her mob will be armed with rocks! Lisa’s powers might be the most interesting but maybe not as exciting. She can stun enemies by playing a few notes with her saxophone, and later she’ll unleash hurricanes of sound with it. Throughout several levels you’ll encounter meditation ports; when she accesses those, Buddha’s mighty hand will lift up things, move them around, and place them into other spots. That’s key in the game, as most puzzle elements you’ll find will be solved through Lisa’s summoning powers. Later on, Buddha’s hand will freeze enemies and turn them into blocks of ice that can be used as weapons. The lighting attack will also be helpful when things get ugly. If Lisa finds the Clobber Girl comic book she’ll turn into her and become truly destructive. Moreover, all four Simpsons characters have the ability to punch and kick to create damage. Maggie won’t really play by herself in any of the levels, but Marge will put her to work once in a while; Maggie can crawl into narrow spaces, air ducts, and such. She can also activate switches with her pacifier. Who knew it could be so useful?
If it wasn’t for the wonderful integration of The Simpsons world into the video game, The Simpsons Game wouldn’t be worth much. The controls are really flawed and frequently make the gameplay irritating. They could have done much better in this department, needless to say. You get used to it, but the fact is the controls weren’t implemented properly and the camera angles simply suck. You’ll be walking in a straight line, and right when you’re going to jump the camera will turn 180 and sometimes 360 degrees, leaving you completely helpless and frustrated – What?! Now I have to go and climb up there all over again?! The controls on the Wii are not much different than on its counterparts. You’ll move the characters with the thumbstick, jump with A, attack with B, switch into Homerball with the minus button, etc. Just sometimes the Wii’s motion-sensing controls will be put into practice; you’ll be able to do ground-slams with the Homerball by quickly slashing the Wii-mote downwards. In other occasions, you’ll do an upwards motion to launch the ball. Also, Lisa’s saxophone will play when you shake the Wii-mote (to stun enemies), Bart will grapple into grappling points, and Marge will start using her megaphone.
Two of the four Simpson characters play each level; this allows for co-op gameplay at any time, displayed on split screen mode. Your friend can join and quit whenever he/she wants without stopping the game. If you’re playing by yourself, you can just switch between one character and the other, depending on what needs to be done. Word balloons with symbols and pictures give you hints about what should be done and who should do it. It’s nice to get these clues so you’re never completely lost. Also, pressing the 1 button will bring up a notebook that shows the tasks that you need to do. Sharing the game is not entirely fun because in many occasions a character won’t be able to do much until the other has done something else. It also means that a character might be missing part of the fun.
Scattered throughout the game, you’ll come across numerous clichés typically found on video games, like the double-jump, levers, switches, bosses with weak spots, ladders, invisible barriers, enemy repetition, and more. After you play each level, new extras will be accessible from the main screen, like all the cutscenes you’ve seen and the clichés you’ve hit upon. Additionally, the Wii version contains a couple of unlockables known as “Wii Moments.” They’re actual mini-games that you can play alone or against your friend. Bite Nite, a parody of EA’s Fight Night games, will have Homer participate in a food-eating contest against Barney, the Comic Guy, and others. It’s a really simple and fun mini-game you can play by yourself or against someone else. You’ll eat by alternating movement with the Nunchuk and the Wii-mote; pressing B and moving the Wii-mote will push the veggies away. Otherwise you’ll lose points! Just focus on those “creamylicious” donuts, hamburgers, hotdogs, and the racks of spare ribs and you’ll be good to go! The same mini-game has a variant: Homer will have to snatch food from the left or right plate before the adversary does. You’ll be able to unlock more of these Wii Moments, which are a nice addition to an already enjoyable title.
The cel-shaded graphics also give the game a distinct and unique look that makes it authentic. Previous titles in older consoles were too pixilated, and the latest ones just gave us The Simpsons in 3D. I’m glad EA went for a more genuine and two-dimensional look this time. This doesn’t mean the game is a side scroller; you’ll still move in wonderful 3D-looking environments, and the character movements and animations look great. EA really put some love into it, and they came out with wonderfully crafted visuals; Matt Groening, The Simpsons’ father and creator, has paid close attention to the development of this game, and maybe that’s what made the difference. The classic cel-shaded touch makes this game that much closer to the show, and the cutscenes are just like the show itself: excellent. What’s my only complaint? The Wii can’t deliver what the Xbox 360 and PS3 do in terms of graphics: high definition. Even though the graphics are mostly sharp and well outlined, they’re not nearly as good as on the other two big consoles. You’ll see lots of “jaggies” and geometrical shapes that try to form The Simpsons’ world. Thankfully, I was able to get over it after a while…
The authenticity of the game goes as far as incorporating the genuine voice acting of the show. That’s another plus! Even though the lines are so authentic, hilarious, and delivered with true passion, I didn’t enjoy the constant repetition. If you’re one of those who takes a sweet time to beat each level, you might go bonkers! How many times can you hear Smithers say “Wow! Those men sure are glistening!” or Bart saying “I gotta remember to steal something in this place!” The sound effects are typical of The Simpsons and the other video games they’re making fun of. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you hear the pipe sounds in Super Mario’s spoof level. Yes, Mario got one too! The music tunes are very distinct and proper for each level, going all the way from jazz to pop.
This game is truly emblematic, and that’s why it’s so good and can be accepted even with its flaws. The gameplay is not the best of the best, but the creativity and wit that has been put into it does it all. If you love The Simpsons, you have to love this one. Just remember that you will need more than some patience to get through it and enjoy it. If you absolutely hate jumping onto the same platform a bunch of times because of broken camera angles, you might despise this game. All in all, I had a great time and was always excited to see the next cutscene. Ay, caramba!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.4 Graphics
This game couldn’t be closer to the animated series’ look. It’d be nice if graphics were sharper and less geometrical. It’s partly the Wii’s fault. 3.0 Control
The game is exasperating at times and it’s all because of the terrible camera angles and flawed controls. 4.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Almost perfect. Authentic voice acting, awesome sound effects, and typical Simpsons tunes. Repetition of lines gets annoying though. 4.5
It’s The Simpsons. If you like them you have to play this game. The annoying controls are not a good enough reason set this game aside.
3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.