Home
Twitter
RSS
Newsletter
Matt Keller
08 Nov, 2007

The Simpsons Game Review

DS Review | Worst. Blurb. Ever.
Video games and The Simpsons have a spotty history. While video games on the show get an amusing treatment, one cannot say the same for the reverse. Other than 1989’s The Simpsons arcade game, the license has taken a steep dive in quality (Bart vs. the Space Mutants), occasionally rising up (Krusty’s Super Fun House) before plummeting back to Earth (Bart’s Nightmare), through the crust (Virtual Bart), and into the planet's core (Simpsons Wrestling). The four fingered funnies’ last outing was The Simpsons: Hit & Run, which was favoured by some critics, but we felt it was barely above average. Electronic Arts has since taken the license, and although it is not their first Simpsons game (The Simpsons Skateboarding was), it is certainly their best. That is not really saying much though – The Simpsons Game on the Nintendo DS has fantastic presentation, but it is particularly light on gameplay.

Despite the quality of The Simpsons itself of the last decade, The Simpsons Game has a reasonably funny plot. Bart finds a manual to The Simpsons Game and the family discovers they all have superpowers. The family starts to use their powers to have their way, such as Marge attempting to prevent Bart from getting his hands on Grand Theft Scratchy, or Lisa setting out to save a forest. The game knows exactly what it is – the characters constantly break the fourth wall, it makes fun of itself for utilizing video game clichés, and there are tons of little homages and parodies of popular video games and their characters. There are a lot of levels based on classic Simpsons moments – in particular, character hallucinations, such as Homer’s trip to Chocolate land. The Nintendo DS version of the game uses pre-rendered cel-shaded 3D sequences, as opposed to the hand-drawn scenes from the console versions – it is a little disappointing, but they look great nonetheless.

  
I'm a big fat dynamo!

I'm a big fat dynamo!
Close
Unfortunately, all the great humour of The Simpsons Game merely serves as a cover-up for the game’s ghastly simplistic gameplay. The developers of the Nintendo DS version of the game at least had the sense to develop this version of the game to the system’s strengths, so it is a 2D platformer, as opposed to the 3D version of the game available on every other format. The stages still follow the same themes, but are just presented in a different way. The DS version of the game is a single player affair, with two members of the family attacking a level – players will have to take advantage of both members’ skills in order to make it through the level. This system can be particularly annoying, because the game never gives a hint on what actually needs to be done to progress – and usually the game will switch between the characters when a segment of a level is completed.

The powers of the characters are actually pretty bland – Bart turns into Bartman, complete with slingshot and gliding ability. Lisa uses her Buddhist connection to move objects to assist in progression. Homer can eat a ton of food and turn into a flabby boulder. Finally, Marge has the ability to summon other Springfield residents to do her bidding, usually relating to something concerning Christian values or morality, and she can also summon Maggie to go through vents to activate machinery and such. Outside of their special powers, each member of the family can jump and do a three hit combo – not exactly original gameplay here. There is not a whole lot else to the game – each character has a specific type of token they can collect, which are distributed throughout their particular levels.

  
I am disrespectful to dirt!

I am disrespectful to dirt!
Close
Level design in The Simpsons Game is painfully straightforward, with the most basic of puzzles and enemies that are an absolute pushover. Comic Book Guy even appears at certain points in the game to remind you of the game’s lack of originality, making fun of things such as double jumps, spike traps and jump pads as you encounter them in the game. The enemies in each level are usually average Springfieldians, nameless cronies or parodies of video game characters. The problem is that the game seems to endlessly spawn these enemies, and beating them up is not actually any fun.

The story portion of The Simpsons Game is unlikely to last players more than about 6 hours. After that, there is not a whole lot to go back for. The DS version of the game does have an exclusive feature in Pet Homer, which is basically a rip-off of your average Tamagotchi game. Players can feed Homer with items they find in the levels, poke him to hear his girlish laugh and rub his bald head for luck – unfortunately you cannot make him go to work and punch Lenny in the back of the head. The novelty of the feature wears off pretty quickly as you’d expect.

While the gameplay might not be spectacular, The Simpsons Game’s presentation is extremely impressive. The game utilises 3D cel-shaded models, most of which look quite good – the DS’s low resolution does let them down a little in this department though, as Lisa has a tendency to look a little bit like a blob. The backgrounds are absolutely fantastic – masterfully created with that much needed Simpsons flair and multiple layers of scrolling. As previously mentioned, EA has opted to make the cut scenes in the DS version of the game, rather than use the footage created for the game that was featured in the console versions. They still look great, but we’d have preferred to see the original product.

  
Onward Christian soldiers!

Onward Christian soldiers!
Close
The Simpsons Game has incredible sound, with all of the voice actors from the series on board. The script is somewhat funny – it is not as good as anything in the first eight seasons of the show, but it is much better than the standard fare of the last 5 or so years worth of episodes. There are so many lines of speech that you have to give the team at EA a lot of credit for squeezing them into the cart. The soundtrack is pretty typical of a Simpsons episode, but not very memorable.

It is a classic case of style over substance with The Simpsons Game – the game looks fantastic, all of the voice actors are on board and the script is hilarious. Problem is that this is not an episode of the show, it is a video game, and at the end of the day, it is going to be judged on its gameplay. As a video game, The Simpsons Game really has very little to offer – the action and level design is basic, puzzles are uninspired and it is riddled with clichés. Big fans of The Simpsons are unlikely to be swayed, but then again, they have been watching a show that has been bad for longer than it was great. Everyone else should just save their cash and move on.
The Score
The Simpsons Game is a classic example of style over substance.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related The Simpsons Game Content

The Simpsons Game Review
12 Nov, 2007 Best Simpsons game ever?
EA claim that Rockstar 'spazzed out like little babies'
30 Oct, 2007 Not happy about having to change The Simpsons Game...
The Simpsons Game demo released
08 Oct, 2007 This time for the Xbox 360.
10 Comments
6 years ago
i was hoping for a console review, rather than for DS.

thanks to PALGN i have some store credit, and the X360 version was potentially going to cause me to spend it.
6 years ago
Will chase it up on the weekend for you Obs, can you wait a couple of days?
6 years ago
wow, that's service. icon_biggrin.gif

if you're planning on getting it for review anyway, that'd be great, but i don't really expect you to track it down for a throw-away comment like mine above.
6 years ago
Yeah i will chase it down we should really cover it. Will pick it up tomorrow.
6 years ago
I've got the console version (PS3), Obs. Gameplay is nothing too much out of the ordinary, but is entertaining nonetheless. Voice acting/script is the strongest point - the game is absolutely hilarious, even in-game comments had me in stiches, let alone the cutscenes. While it parodies many video game cliches and pitfalls, it follows and falls into many of them itself. In any case, it's worth playing or at least renting simply because of the humour. If I had to give a score it'd be a solid 7-8.
6 years ago
Got this pre-ordered but haven't been bothered to pick it up yet. I was hoping for a great script, which is about 99% of my motivation to buy, and the fact that the gameplay is better than completely retarded is a bonus.
6 years ago
"unfortunately you cannot make him go to work and punch Lenny in the back of the head"

One of the best Simpsons Moments.

I'm disappointed at the bad score, I'll get the 360 version instead.
6 years ago
Mof wrote
I've got the console version (PS3), Obs. Gameplay is nothing too much out of the ordinary, but is entertaining nonetheless. Voice acting/script is the strongest point - the game is absolutely hilarious, even in-game comments had me in stiches, let alone the cutscenes. While it parodies many video game cliches and pitfalls, it follows and falls into many of them itself. In any case, it's worth playing or at least renting simply because of the humour. If I had to give a score it'd be a solid 7-8.
that sounds roughly like what i was expecting/wanting. cheers for the quick write-up. icon_y1.gif
6 years ago
Im certainly interested in picking up a console version and would second hearing a review from you talented writers at PALGN.
6 years ago
I played the PS3 version. I loved it, it was sooo fun just using their different abilities, Homer and Bart are the best. The cel-shaded graphics or watever they r called are really good too as is the voice acting. it is by far the best Simpsons game to date...
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/Nz

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  1/11/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $59.95 AU
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Action
Year Made:
  2007

Read more...
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.