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The Simpsons Game Review
by Generalissimo Furioso
A Good Simpsons game? Xbox LIVE support? Dreck C- !
Ah, The Simpsons, the one TV show I can say without a doubt that I will watch for the rest of my entire life (and possibly beyond the grave!). Of course, when you're dealing with a property as popular and as influential as The Simpsons, odds are good that people will want to merchandise the hell out of it. In case you were one of those people completely ignorant of the world in the early 90's, The Simpsons were on every fucking thing you could ever possibly imagine, short of birth control and giant dissident burning ovens. This also meant there were several video games based on The Simpsons, such as Bart vs. The Space Mutants and Bart vs. The World (Why so much Bart? Because Homer vs. The IRS seems so tame by comparison). Most of these games were cookie cutter snooze-fests that were both annoying and boring at the same time (exceptions being Bart's Nightmare and Virtual Bart [and the arcade game - Doom.]). This trend of making Simpsons versions of more popular games continued through the 90's and into the 00's, with Simpsons Road Rage and Simpsons Hit and Run being prominent examples. That trend continued until The Simpsons Game was announced in late '06, which promised to carry the series' trademark irreverent humor and zany characters into the next generation of video gaming. Of course, many of us were doubtful they could carry it off, especially because EA was behind the production (and we all know what they're capable of).
The game begins with Homer snoozing on the couch, dreaming about that mystical land of chocolate from "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk". It is here that you learn about the basics of the game (yes, it's a tutorial) in an incredibly funny way. However, Homer eventually awakens from his slumber and moans about the fact that he no longer possesses his dream powers. Meanwhile, Bart heads to the local SequelStop to pick up a copy of Grand Theft Scratchy, which Marge quickly confiscates, sending Bart on a meandering path throughout Springfield to mope. It is then that he stumbles across a mystical instruction manual for The Simpsons Game which shows that he and the rest of his family have special powers to use. This sends the entire family on a quest to save Springfield from impending doom, involving guest appearances from various well-known individuals (if I told you about it now, it wouldn't be as funny as if you played it yourself).
Oh Comic Book Guy, is there anything you won't criticize?
If you ever played the old timey arcade game The Simpsons, you're going to feel absolutely at home with this game. The gameplay is basically a beat-em-up with each character possessing their own special abilities. Homer has the ability to unleash an Atomic Belch along with the ability to become a round ball of lard and smash through the enemy. Bart can turn into Bartman and unleash the dark fury of the night with his slingshot. Lisa can attune herself with the power of the Buddha and manipulate the environment, while Marge can hypnotize people to form mobs to do her bidding. It may be simple, but it's a lot more fun than many other games with much more complicated controls (Quarter-circle forward + LP/SP followed by half-circle backwards + LK/SK!!!!!!).
Thus proving that Paul Anka cannot end horror.
Essentially, the game counteracts its simplicity with a zany sense of humor that few games can ever possibly claim to have (Psychonauts!!!!). Despite being a EA game, it's incredibly satirical of practically every "popular" game that EA publishes. All throughout the game you can see posters and billboards advertising games like Need for Speedo: Sexy Time (complete with Homer wearing the infamous swimsuit from Borat) and Maddening "insert year here" (can anyone say PALETTE SWAPS?!?!?!). Hell, there's like three levels devoted to bashing EA and its various practices ("It's like a factory of mediocrity!"). Outside of of EA bashing, however, the game has fun with many issues plaguing games today, such as lack of high scores, the absence of extra lives, and Geriatric Profanity Disorder (or GPD).
Thus the mysterious blue tuft of hair moves from the grassy knoll to in front of this bewildering billboard.
This does not mean that the game is without flaws, however. As a matter of fact, the flaws that might be ignored in other games seem to have much more of an effect here. For example, despite being one of the many video game clichés the game lampoons, the collectible item is every fucking where. I don't know about you, but it angers me a great deal when every single level has hidden items that you can collect for "bonuses", so much more so because the game insults the concept of having to collect items to progress throughout the game. Another negative: the game is short and has relatively little replay value other than scrounging for the collectibles. That and competing in time trials against other people across Xbox LIVE... Yay.
All in all, the game is absolutely worth playing if you have a sense of humor and are willing to laugh at the bizarre hobby we all find so endearing. That doesn't mean that you should buy it. Not just because you'd be giving more money to EA than it ever deserved, but simply because you're only really going to feel the need to beat it once, and that's enough. It's really only funny to see Frink date a Koopa once, since it just gets progressively more bizarre as you think about it.
WHY SNORKY WHY!?
How many needles of black tar heroin to make this game good?: None