The Simpsons has become a household name ever since its first ever episode in 1989. The lovable characters, matched with unparalleled humour made it the funniest animated series ever – I may even go so bold as to say one of the funniest television shows ever. 408 episodes and 19 seasons later, and we’ve finally got ourselves a movie tie-in video game worth purchasing.
Usually when people hear “Official game for the movie” they instantly cower away in a corner, expecting a rather poor rendition of the movie, in video game format, along with shocking gameplay and a rather obvious storyline. The Simpsons is different however. Not only does the games storyline not follow the same one as the movie, but it seems to pull off the whole idea quite neatly.
The story sets out with Bart wanting the banned video game Grand Theft Scratchy (Based on the cartoon, Itchy and Scratchy). Whilst strolling down his neighbourhood, Bart stumbles across The Simpsons Video Game manual. He starts to read of special powers that his family possess throughout the game, and also of his own special abilities when suddently Bart finds himself within the video game world himself. Generally the storyline would be sniped at quickly, but because it’s The Simpsons, it somehow seems to get away with the fact that it’s really rather stupid.
The levels are split up into episodes, with every episode allowing you to take control of two characters, each with their own special ability. For example, Homer can turn himself into a giant fat ball, which not only looks hilarious, but is also effective in taking out enemies and causing mayhem. Each episode will require you to swap between the two characters to solve simple puzzles or take out certain enemies. There are eighteen of these episodes in total, and each one varies a fair amount meaning you won’t find yourself feeling as though you’ve just played the same level again with different characters.
The entire game seems to take a disparage to the video game industry as a whole, with tounge-in-cheek jokes towards Medal of Honor and Grand Theft Auto to name a few. Not only that, but scattered throughout the episodes are video game clichés; aspects of the game that you’ve seen – and in some cases been very used to – in other video games, such as a simple double jump action, with rewards for doing them.
Sadly it’s not all fun and games with The Simpsons. My first major gripe is the fact that the graphics just seem under-par for a next-gen title. When the cut scenes pop up, the edges are smooth, and the animated goodness flows in full HD glory. When it’s actual in-game footage however, there seems to be a huge lack of anti-alias around the edges of everything, creating a somewhat unimpressive pixelated world that could do with some simple smoothing.
Coupled with that comes the fact that there’s nothing in this title to overly excite an avid video gamer. It pulls off the 3D platform genre well, but it’s not a game you can pick up and play for hours on end – it’s more a title you’ll play for an hour just to laugh at Homers hilarious one-liners that are riddled throughout.
If you can overlook those minor annoyances, the title is actually quite entertaining. The fact that the entire game has real voice acting from the same people who make the TV series, along with over 40 minutes of never before seen cut-scene footage, seems to put a rose coloured tint on the game. Along with that is the multiplayer. Not many games take advantage of co-operative gameplay these days, but The Simpsons certainly does; with split screen action to rival the best of titles. Because all of the episodes within the game are pushing team work between the two characters, the game goes into a whole new light when you’re playing the levels with a mate, solving puzzles together.
All-in-All, the Simpsons is good, but not stunning. The entertaining one-liners and simple 3D platform aspect of the title will keep you going for a few hours, but won’t have you playing until your eyes fall out. That being said, there’s still something about The Simpsons that pushes the score to a respectable one, whether it’s the genius originality of the storyline, or just the simple fact that it’s The Simpsons, it’s still worth picking up and trying.