Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Redwood Shores
N Amer - 10/30/2007
The Simpsons Game Review
Something smells rotten in the small city of Springfield and it’s not Homer, or Moe’s Tavern either. No, someone or something has designed a most devious plot that will have the Simpson's family racing through the city doing what they do best … making a mess of things. The Simpsons have appeared in a number of games including a decent arcade-fighting game, a number of awful console games and finally a fun Grand Theft Auto-inspired game that is considered the best game to make good use of the show license. EA has finally brought the Simpsons to the next-generation and that includes handhelds like the Nintendo DS. The Simpsons Game for the DS is not as great as The Simpsons: Hit and Run but it is a worthy platform game.
The game’s main mode actually has something of a story. You see, one day Homer and Bart are heading to the local Kwik-E-Mart when a game manual drops from the skies. Skimming through it, Bart discovers that the game manual is about all of them and each member of the Simpsons family has super powers. The question is who is behind the game manual and why make a game out of this particular family when it’s Milhouse who totally needs the spotlight … seriously, that kid is dying for some attention. What occurs next is a spoof of a number of classic platform games as The Simpsons Game is quick to point out gaming clichés. The story is even written by some of The Simpson writers so the game is actually pretty fun.
The game wonderfully works in the spoofs from start to finish. In fact, the game begins with an homage to Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros. as Homer eats his way through the very same land of chocolate Homer once fantasized about … during an employee evaluation in front of his supervisors. As he chomps away at chocolate bunnies, Homer also jumps on floating platforms made of Oreo cookies. All the while the Comic Book Guy chimes in as he points out the gaming clichés (“Double jumping from a platform to reach a higher platform? Worst … gaming … cliché … ever.”).
Homer isn’t the only character you’ll get to play in the game. You’ll even assume the role of Bart, Lisa and even Marge. As Bart is quick to point out, each member of the family has his or her own special ability. Homer, for example, has the ability to turn into a Homerball that can bounce and roll over enemies that are dumb enough to get in his way. Bart turns into Bartman, his superhero persona that allows him to cape glide to other platforms as well as use his boomerang or slingshot. Lisa, on the other hand, has the Hand of Buddha/Hand of Enlightenment that allows her to pick up huge objects using the Stylus or call up lightning. Then there’s Marge who is able to gather a mob of followers to attack for her. Oftentimes, certain levels switch between characters so you’ll start off as Bart in one segment then switch to Homer or Lisa in another.
The game’s levels are actually pretty inventive although, at times, they can get a bit repetitive. Still, if you’re a fan of the show you will love the levels that include all the zany characters that make up the show’s universe. You’ll be entering an eating contest as Homer as you go up against characters who are considered big eaters like Chief Wiggums, Barney and that adorably fat foreign exchange student named Utter. You’ll be saving trees from getting chopped down as Lisa and storm into the Springfield museum as Bart. Most levels have you going through levels inspired by classics such as Frogger or Gauntlet.
Speaking of spoofs, in between levels you’ll be treated to a Nintendogs-styled break where you’ll encounter Homer sitting on the couch. The funny thing is that you can interact with Homer, feed him from a selection of junk food treats. You can even pet him by rubbing the Stylus over his belly to listen to his Poppin’ Fresh-like giggle. There’s even a Mood and Energy meter so you have to keep him happy by feeding him or having him pick up the phone to invite a number of his friends like Moe or an assortment of other characters like Bumble Bee Man or Krusty the Clown.
There’s also a multiplayer mode that allows up to four players to take each another on in four different game modes. They’re actually pretty fun like Bart Match where you go up against other Barts to shoot down targets with your trust slingshots. In Kapture the Koveted Krusty, a capture-the-flag mode that has you holding on to Krusty, you’ll be battling it out in a fast-paced game mode. There’s a similar version of that called Golden Donut only you play as Homer, and then there’s Hungry Homer where you try to out eat your opponents.
The Simpsons Game uses a type of cel-shading but it just doesn’t look as amazing as other games that use it. It’s not that the game is bad-looking 2D game but it just isn’t as pretty as it could have been and that’s a tragedy seeing as all the characters look like they do on the show. Well, at least the environments look good and so do the visual effects.
The show’s soundtrack is also featured throughout the game and even the sound effects feel like they belong in an episode from the show. What is a pleasant surprise is the dialogue that‘s actually funny enough to offer some memorable character catch-phrases that go beyond the tired “Cowabunga!” lines. The writers do a good job of piling on the dialogue and phrases, but you will occasionally find that the game does repeat them often during levels.
The Simpsons Game for the Nintendo DS is actually a surprisingly fun and humorous platform game that might be way too short but still fun enough to keep fans entertained. With gameplay that is as slick as Disco Stu and levels that are pretty fun, this is a good game to own if you like a platformer that lovingly spoofs a number of fun games plus adds a decent multiplayer you will enjoy sharing. Sure, the game could have added more or played more with the touch screen but what is seen here are just as good as chocolate glazed donuts. Hmmm … donuts.
Review Scoring Details for The Simpsons Game
It’s the Simpsons family racing and jumping into a short number of levels and EA actually makes it work wonderfully on the Nintendo DS. The touch-screen action isn’t as involving but the tongue-in-cheek adaptations of classic games.
Visually, the game could have looked a lot better even on the DS. Still, all the characters look the way you would expect them to look and the environments are handled well enough, but you can’t help but think that this game could have looked a lot better.
Thanks to the show’s writers, the various lines of dialogue are hilarious and - while some lines tend to get a little repetitive in place - the lines are actually true to each character that shows up. Even everyone from Comic Book Guy to Moe shows up in this game. The sound effects are decent and the soundtrack comes directly from the show.
Many of the levels are too easy and you’ll be zipping through them in no time. The only thing that will have you sticking around is the collectible items. Each Simpson has their own abilities and you will certainly know where to use it so there aren’t any moments in the game that will have you wondering what to do next.
The game is actually pretty funny and there are various moments that will have you chuckling at the nods at classic games including Frogger and Pac-Man. Oh, there’s also homage to Nintendogs, that has you feeding and petting Homer. The main game is pretty short but there’s multiplayer fun to be had.
There are four multiplayer game modes you can share with up to three other players using a single card (via single-card download) or multiple cards. Many of the game modes are familiar territory but the fun ones have you playing as Homers either trying to eat everything in sight or trying to hold on to a Golden Donut in a capture-the-flag-styled mode.
The Simpsons Game is actually a fun little platformer for the Nintendo DS and while it doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, there’s plenty of entertaining and funny levels that capture the spirit of the show. Humorously spoofing some classic games throughout the experience, the game has a lot to offer gamers even though the main game is really short. It’s worth a look if you like The Simpsons or a fun platform game.
GameZone Review Detail
The Simpsons Game for the Nintendo DS is actually a surprisingly fun and humorous platform game that might be way too short but still fun enough to keep fans entertained
Reviewer: Natalie Romano
Review Date: 11/14/2007