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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon
< What bow and arrow? | Dimitri the (crazy and egotistical) lover >

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Simpsons Game

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 30/06/2008 18:57:57

It was the best of games, it was the blurst of games.Last Exit to Springfield

There have been 21 other games in the long list of Simpsons-based video games, and it's fair to say that very few of them have been worth playing. The Simpsons Hit & Run was pretty good and Bart vs. The Space Mutants kept me entertained as a kid - but most of the games have run the gamut from totally shit to an occasionally enjoyable distraction.

It is with this in mind that when the last Simpson game was announced - with the original title of The Simpsons Game - I wasn't expecting much.

Simpsons Cover
There's a different cover design for each version of the game

The Simpsons Game features an original storyline - it was initially assumed this game might be a movie tie-in with the recently released Simpsons Movie - in which Bart discovers that the family is part of a video game. You can control Homer, Marge, Lisa and Bart and each member of the family has different skills and abilities. The game is broken up into 16 episodes - each with a different setting built around the two characters you will play as.

Developed by EA, poster boy for all that is wrong in the video game industry, this was a very tough game to keep playing. Deaths are far too frequent due to clunky gameplay and the camera seemingly intent on sabotage. If this game was on any other subject, I probably would have stopped playing it after a few hours. But this is where the story kicks in.

The game was written by three Simpsons writers and all in-game dialogue is delivered by the actual Simpsons actors. The story is very funny, and reminiscent of the golden age of Simpsons episodes (for me anyway). The town of Springfield is also pretty faithfully represented in digital form, including internal designs with the comic book store, police station, Kwik-E-Mart, Moe's Tavern and more.

Simpsons Church
Although there isn't much you can do there, running around the inside of places like the church is a nice touch

The funny, Simpsons-style story alone would make for a good game even considering the poor game play issues, but the most pleasantly surprising aspect of the game for me was the video game references. The game makes fun of past and current video games as well as the whole games industry including EA themselves. There's also many brief aspects of the game play included as homage to famous games in history, such as space invaders, all rendered in the regular in-game engine with a different camera angle (generally top-down).

Simpsons Tutorial Level
Mmmm, chocolate

There's no online component to the game, and the achievements are uninspired. Apart from the "finish the game" type achievements, most of the points are handed out for collecting the various "collectibles" throughout the game. That being said, The Simpsons Game does give up one of the most amusing achievements I've "achieved" on the ol' 360. I won't give it away, but you'd see what I was talking about if you ever decided to give this game a go.

3.5 out of 5

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