REVIEW – The Simpsons Arcade (XBLA)

Fighting Through Springfield

Rounding out the most memorable brawlers of 90’s arcades and standing right beside the ports of TMNT and X-Men, The Simpsons Arcade game has finally landed on home consoles via XBLA and PSN.

Ah yes, the brawler.  It really is a lost video game art form, reaching its pinnacle on 16-bit systems of yesteryear.  The premise is simple; walk to the right of the screen and button mash your way through random bullies, quirky stages, and cheap end-bosses.  Usually offering little in terms of replay value, the brawler usually stands out as repetitive tests of endurance.  The Simpsons is no exception.

Even though one or two romps through Springfield will display everything there is to see, the Simpsons is still a fun game to play while it lasts.  Best experienced with 4 co-op players, this console port of the fan favorite arcade game has a few new tricks up its sleeve.

First, the addition of online and same sofa multiplayer is a godsend.  This is further amplified by the easy drop-in and drop-out style of gameplay and online play is usually smooth and uninterrupted by players that pop in and out.  Secondly, the Japanese ROM is unlocked after the USA ROM is completed.  This means that slight tweaks, like extra scoring bonuses and the ability to stack additional health, are sure to please longtime fans by offering something a little new and different.  There are even new ways to play, testing skill and endurance.  Free Play allows as many continues as desired but the other modes limit the amount of continues each player, or team, can use.  Leaderboards also are great ways to add a competitive element to this strictly co-op game.  Finishing the game as each of the four playable characters also unlocks additional secret content that were placed in the game solely for fan service.  Although expected for a modern game, all these new additions give The Simpsons extra legs to run on when there were not any.

The graphics, voice quips and soundtrack are just as endearing as they were back in the 90’s.  Even the plot line of Smithers kidnapping Maggie because a stolen jewel replaced her pacifier is ridiculously memorable as are the unique stages and environments; the dream level is particularly distinctive.  It would have been nice if there were more options to fill the entire screen instead of letterboxing with an arcade cabinet graphic, but the smoothing options found in the menu screen can ensure that the charming sprites look best on your specific monitor.

The Simpsons, just like the X-Men Arcade port, is a hard game to give a review score to.  From a professional reviewing stand point the lack of replayability, the simple button mashing repetition, and nonsensical plotline are quite flawed and short on gameplay.  However, as a fan of the show who is overwhelmed with childhood nostalgia each time this trek is taken through classic Springfield, this title could yield unfair praise.

Without question, your time with the Simpsons will be on the shorter side.  But the time that is spent with this arcade-brought-home port will be memorable, endearing, and entertaining.  The new features are enough to keep fans happy and stands as a great casual party game the next time your buddies come over; Boo-urns instead of Boo.



On Par With: X-Men Arcade on XBLA/PSN

Also Try: Castlevania Harmony of Despair

Wait For It: Diablo III

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