The Simpsons Arcade Game Review
If you have cherished memories of playing The Simpsons Arcade Game, keep holding on to them and ignore this port.
- Plays just like the arcade original.
- Dull, uninspired action
- Can be completed in 40 minutes
- Weak unlockables
- Few modern enhancements.
There are times when the past is best remembered rather than revisiting. For more than two decades, people have been clamoring for The Simpsons Arcade Game to make its way to home consoles. As part of the trinity of Konami's licensed beat-'em-ups--alongside Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men: The Arcade Game--it was the only one that had never ventured outside of the dank, smoky arcade scene. And now that it's finally available, it serves only as a crushing reminder that life is unfair.
There is a rudimentary story that serves as your motivating force, and its brevity would make it easy to ignore in similar games, but its slapdash implementation reverberates through every element of this adventure. For reasons that are never explained and make absolutely no sense, Waylon Smithers robs a jewelry store. In his sloppy getaway, he crashes into the Simpsons family, Maggie ends up with a diamond replacing her pacifier, and Smithers nabs the infant as he flees. So, if you're curious why Bart would hit Binky with his skateboard or Lisa would snap her jump rope at a wrestler, there you go. That still doesn't explain why Marge would throw Snowball II at an inflatable Krusty head, but you'll be far beyond caring at that point.
It might seem like nitpicking to poke holes in this hastily compiled story, but this lack of care is characteristic of the way that references to the beloved show are handled. Characters and locations are crammed in with no regard to their own relevance. If you scan the background, you might see Dr. Marvin Monroe at a hamburger stand pushing his wares. Yeah, you might laugh as you point out the now-deceased psychiatrist, but that doesn't make his random inclusion seem any more thoughtful. What's really strange is just how many Life is Hell references there are. The Simpsons Arcade Game was released in 1991, only two seasons into the life of the show, so the developers didn't have access to the nearly unlimited cast that now exists. Instead of being creative, Matt Groening's other property was crammed in to fill the holes, and the inclusion of the one-eared rabbit just feels bizarre in 2012.
Even with the careless integration of references, the licensed elements of The Simpsons Arcade Game are its lone noteworthy aspect. There is certainly some enjoyment in picking out characters from years past. Bleeding Gums Murphy (also dead!) can be seen in the background in one stage. It's cool to watch the saxophone player jam once more, and seeing who surrounds him should please anyone who has spent hours watching classic episodes. The exotic dancer Homer appeared in a photo with can be seen (with two identical sisters?), and it's those brief moments of recognition that push you onward.
It's a good thing the animated cartoon was able to make these characters so likable that merely seeing them can bring a smile to your face. Unfortunately, every idea unique to this game is downright archaic. You (and up to three of your unluckiest friends) take control of Marge, Bart, Homer, or Lisa, and the ability to play offline or online ensures you should be able to scrounge up a partner in a pinch. Each of the controllable heroes has a weapon, so that rapscallion Bart makes deadly use of his skateboard, science queen Lisa wields her jump rope like a whip, Marge cleans up street toughs with her trusty vacuum cleaner, and Homer makes use of his fists. The differences between their attacks may sound large, but in practice, they offer little more than a visual change.
The two-button combat fails to pick up the slack as far as diversity is concerned. You can jump, attack, or jump attack. It's standard stuff that gets old after only a minute or two of knocking down enemies. Certain background items can be picked up and thrown at attackers, though it doesn't matter if you're throwing a loved family pet or a refreshing drink, because the items all act exactly the same. The one dose of flair is that characters can team up to unleash superattacks. Combining Homer and Lisa into a duel-headed killing machine offers some silly fun and is easily the highlight of the stale combat. Sadly, your entire repertoire encompasses only those basic maneuvers, and the lack of deeper tactics means you quickly grow tired of performing the same moves ad nauseam.
There are eight levels to burn through, and the whole shebang can be completed in roughly 40 minutes your first time through. An achievement for a half-hour completion time exists, so you have some idea of just how long this adventure lasts from opening cutscene to scrolling credits. There is a smattering of bonus unlockables, though they add little to the overall package. Upon completing the game for the first time, you gain access to the Japanese version of the game. Levels, enemies, and attacks are mostly identical, though small tweaks (such as how the score is tabulated) do offer slight changes. Otherwise, you can play around in sound or music test menus or look at character art. None of these extras will compel you to keep playing, nor will you get much use out of them once they become available.
For history buffs, one of the few good elements in this game is its perfect emulation of the source material, though that's faint praise considering this is more than two decades old. Still, although this looks and plays just like the quarter muncher you remember, the presentation is questionable. By default, an arcade cabinet fills in the borders (this isn't widescreen), though it doesn't look like the outside of the original Simpsons machine. Rather, because it lacks the colorful logo, it's closer to an ATM than the arcade cabinet. This can be toggled off and on, and you can also tweak how sharp the visuals are, but that's about it for options. Like the core action, the options and unlockables are severely lacking, making it a wonder this port was released in 2012.
The Simpsons Arcade Game is a fine example of the time-honored expression "be careful what you wish for; you might just get it." Age has not been kind to Homer and the gang, and few modern-day amenities have made it into The Simpsons Arcade Game. It's tempting for those who grew up playing this in the arcade to plunk down 800 Microsoft points ($10) to relive their childhood. But that's a fool's game. Playing this will soil any fond memories you've desperately clung to through the years. This mind-numbingly dull brawler feels like an ancient relic compared to the wealth of new and exciting experiences available for Xbox Live Arcade.
classic. i spent like 20 buks in quarters and beat this with my brother and 2 random people at the mall. love it. 3 is waaaay harsh. yay nostalgia
Is just me, or is this page's comment session kinda "locked", not letting you read the old comments and stuck with only the comments from the first page? I see there's 21 pages of comments, but I tried in three different PCs and two different browsers and I just cannot read them. In other pages I can browse the other comment pages just fine... Suspicious.
@TomMcShea- thanks for once again pointing out the obvious, which everyone understood from the get-go. The problem here, as agreed upon by 95% of those who actually read your piece of trash, is that you are only basing your rating on one of those pieces of criteria, which makes no sense, and is not the most important factor when evaluating ports. Just keep defaulting to your weak, corporate rationalization though as if there isn't a problem here. Also, for your next video review make sure you try to sustain what you call your "journalistic integrity" and "non-arrogance" by including another ball-and-cup scene where your rub your biased opinion in even more. I think you way have one ounce of credibility left that needs to be flushed down the toilet.
this review makes no sense. if the port is perfect then that's all that should matter, the game will be exactly as people remember
@SnuffDaddyNZ The beauty of GameSpot's review system is that we tell the quality of both the port AND the game. If you read my review, you can see that the port is flawless, so if that's all that matters to you, you're good to go. For people who want to know if this game stacks up in 2012, I provide that information as well.
Well this game isn't that awesome but at least it's still fun to play if you pretend you still live in the early 90s. I'll give it a 6/10 at best.
I'm not one to judge, but why is it Tom Mc Shea's reviews that are always really poor scores? I have nothing against your opinion Tom, you actually made some very valid points here and there in this review, and your other reviews, Skyward Sword included. At least you let your own statements be heard, rather than mingle with the crowd and just follow what they say.
The caption for this review doesn't fit, it's like it's saying "oh the game was good but this port sucks", and from what you are actually saying in the body paragraphs of the review, you clearly just don't like the game. I played this not too long ago (maybe a few months ago) and still liked it, so I'll be picking this up anyways, thanks for nothing.
Again emphasizes my, as yet, unheard call for reviews of "old school" arcade game ports to rate the quality of the port, NOT the actual game. As far as ports go.... seemed perfect to me?
@ryan0991: I couldn't agree more. What's more to this is I doubt most of Gamespot was even old enough or tall enough to reach the controllers without a step stool back in '91.
@valdarez So you are now going to rely on reviewers to tell you what the game is worth? If the price is right? Do you actually take any part of the decision making process when buying a game? Also, money is valued differently by everyone. Rich kids piss in the face of 10 bucks. Poor kids might be more choosy. Either way, tell me about the game and I'll decide if the price is right. I don't need a reviewer for that, especially incompetent ones.
Gamespot managed to contradict themselves before the review even started. Right under the title they tell you to "ignore this port if you have cherished memories of playing it". That implies that they changed something. Then under "the good" they say that it plays just like the original. That is exactly what fans of the original want. No one is going to buy this game looking for a fresh new experience. They're buying it for the nostalgia.
[quote="TomMcShea"]But I can't let the feelings of my ten-year-old self get in the way of clear-headed evaluation.[/quote] @TomMcShea - Yes, yes let those feelings get in the way! Don't be afraid of your feelings, McShea. Fear leads to anger, and we all know where that leads. Let's rewind a second: I have no issue with the score. I never liked The Simpsons Arcade game for all the reasons you mentioned, anda 3.0 seems fair. Why would I play it when the X-Men arcade game (I was a Nightcrawler man, myself) and a Neo Geo machine (World Heroes, Samurai Shodown, and Metal Slug: Woot!) flanked it at Playland? The graphics were good, but The Simpsons was terrible then, and it would seem nothing has changed. It was only mildly cool because it had sound clips and art from the show, and that was impressive from a technical standpoint My point was more that I wish it had been written to consider nostalgia for the reasons I mentioned, even if nostalgia is not considered for scoring. (cont'd)
(cont'd) Maybe you enjoyed it more because you played it when you were younger, maybe you didn't, but that disclosure adds value for gamers like myself that are considering buying this title but are having a tough time remembering how good or bad it was over twenty years ago. It's for this reason that Gerstmann brought up the nostalgia factor in his review of the [url=http://www.gamespot.com/river-city-ransom-ex/reviews/river-city-ransom-ex-review-6099482/]River City Ransom re-release[/url], and it helps the review tremendously, though it did not seem to affect the score much, in the end. I know many readers here are fixated on the numbers, but I want your opinion and your perspective; nostalgia influences both. [quote="carolynmichelle"]If you're implying that all beat-em-ups of the era are "tired," I respectfully disagree.[/quote] @CarolynMichelle - I'm not trying to imply that, though it does read that way, upon reflection. Either way, I'd hope after all this time you knew me better than that! The Simpsons just happens to a tired 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up. There were a lot of derivative 2D side scrollers at the time, but I still loved Ninja Combat and Turtles Through Time. Heck, I even enjoyed the Aliens Arcade Game. ;)
@Bozanimal "there is no reason to buy a tired 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up for any other reason." If you're implying that all beat-em-ups of the era are "tired," I respectfully disagree. I think plenty of games from the 80s and 90s hold up quite well. Streets of Rage 2, for instance, is a beat-em-up filled with meaningfully varied enemies who employ different tactics, and the three playable characters have significantly different movesets that you need to skillfully employ to successfully complete the game. Taken on its own terms, it's a satisfying beat-em-up despite being 20 years old. By comparison (and on its own terms, I think), The Simpsons is just a dull button-masher.
Some old games are still good; others aren't (or weren't even good at the time, and we just didn't know any better). In my view, there's definitely a basis for evaluating these older games that isn't dependent on nostalgia. And if nostalgia were a factor, then I think a review would be pointless. We'd have to just award a positive score to any older game that people remember fondly, and what would be the point of that?
its just a TOTAL joke that they never cashed in and sold this game on SNES or Genesis. But i liked the demo, enough that I wouldnt give it a 3.0 Maybe a 7, and that's pretty good for an arcade game with little replay value.
@ERoBB, We re-review older games with the same standard as every other review because you still have to spend your current time and money with the game. It's being re-released in 2012 so you have to decide if it stacks up against the many choices out there. Many older games hold up fine, many others falter. We tell you which is which. Though, like always, you can disagree with our assessment. @Bozanimal, I did play The Simpsons Arcade Game growing up. I spent countless hours playing every beat 'em up I could get my hands on. But I can't let the feelings of my ten-year-old self get in the way of clear-headed evaluation.
@Elbowsmash Last thing I'm going to say on this topic as it's in no way conversation worthy. You'd argue with a wall if it were in front of you. A game's quantity and quality (or hoped for quality if you will) is strongly tied to a price point. The company sets the price point and the budget long before the game is ever released. To suggest otherwise is foolish, naive, or based in pure ignorance of how software is developed and released. You're so intent on proving your fallacious point that you're throwing in pricing of a game long after it's release when games do fluctuate in an attempt to drive more sales. That's not even a valid (or honest) argument. It should go without saying that gamers have expectations with regard to quantity and quality with regards to a game based on price point. It should that is.... but of course, there's you. (Valdarez sets up brick wall) - There you go, please use the brick wall for the rest of your discussion, as I'm sure it'll get about as far with you as anyone else does. ;)
[quote="tommcshea"]...nostalgia and popularity don't factor into a critical analysis.[/quote] They should; there is no reason to buy a tired 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up for any other reason. Double Dragon, Golden Axe, TMNT Arcade, etc. all offer basically the same gameplay. The only reason anyone would consider The Simpsons is due to: 1 - Nostalgia 2 - A love of The Simpsons It's a shame that this is not viewed through the lens of someone that grew up playing it in the arcade, because that is exactly to whom this is marketed.
@Elbowsmash Prices do indeed fluctuate, but for the first few weeks (when a review really matters and is most likely to be used in a purchasing decision) a price shift is unlikely. Ergo, it's a useful part of the discussion. The fact that this game costs $10 and is trumped by a thousand free and/or low-cost browser or indie games is a very valid point worth making.
I have to admit, I was most surprised it was only an 18 meg download. Still, having one of my fave Konami beat 'em ups to casually plunk down with after all these years is a real treat. Now how about Sunset Riders?
@valdarez Understand that the price is something apart from the actual game- it gets attached to the game, fluctuates up and down, can be expensive and inexpensive, but has nothing to do with the game itself. I don't come here to find out what games are worth. I can make that decision myself. Prices should have nothing to do with the review of the game. They should be listed along side the review for the sake of being informative but should not affect the review in any way. Besides, are you willing to have a sliding scale incorporated into every review every time a price drop happens? Oh! Bastion is on sale this week- better bump up the review score a point! Stupid. Seriously, if people need a reviewer to tell them at the end of the review, after hearing about the game itself and all the details whether or not they should buy it based on a specific dollar amount- if they can't make that decision themselves....well, that's really sheepish.
@glimpus Actually, there's a third option: McShea is pretty much right, and the only reason he looks like an outlier is because 90% of the people bothering to post here are angry fans demanding retribution. The vast majority of gamers aren't nuts enough to drop $10 on a crappy beat 'em up and kept on walking.
Well, there's only two real options here. #1 is McShea is pretty darn off with his views on video games compared to the general public, and thus is a pretty useless reviewer or, #2 it's all an effort to generate site traffic. Either way it's not right.
@Tom Mc Shea thanks for the response, but if all of that is true, then I question Gamespot's decision to review arcade re-releases. You simply can't review a 20 year old game with modern criteria just because it's been released on a new platform. It's not a new game in any sense. Nothing warrants a new review, except it's release. I wonder if you would cross your arms and scoff at Hitchcock's The Birds BluRay re-release because the special effects were bad. Would you give that film a 3/10 and cite modern review philosophy when people disagreed? Or would you judge the film on the merits of it's time? "Nostaligia" you call it, logic I call it.
@TomMcShea (part 2) I understand you're trying to analyze more context, history (and not only story) of the game and it's IP and etcetera, but, c'mon, you can't apply all movie and books reviews standards to game reviews, they're different media and their reviews need to be written differently, there are common points, but there are also very distinct aspects that you should notice.
@TomMcShea Well, if you're bringing GameSpot's review guidelines here, let's take a closer look at it. It says "3.0: You probably shouldn't get too close to a game in this range. Any of its positive qualities most likely serve only to make the rest of it seem even more disappointing" and also says "5.0: a 5-range score refers to a game that's 'merely average' in the negative sense. These games tend to have enough major weaknesses to considerably outweigh their strengths. There's probably a substantially better, similar game out there for you" and it also says "6.0: games that earn 6-range ratings have certain good qualities but significant problems as well. These games may well be worth playing, but you should approach them with caution". The problem here is that you say the game is pretty awful with no redeeming qualities, and we, your public, clearly disagree with that. We're not claiming this is an amazing game by today's standards, but we're saying it can still be pretty fun, despite obvious flaws. The worse part, however, is that you claim this game deserves a 3.0 bringing up point which makes no sense at all! Your review have 9 paragraphs and you spend the first 4 of them talking about things that have *nothing* to do with gameplay, and then, at the end, you spend the last one in the very same way, leaving the review less than 50% of *really* relevant content.
McShea translation: No matter how many people disagree, it's our policy and our policy is immune to mistakes. Eat **** 95% who have the same opinion that I'm wrong! I work here!
@Elbowsmash Think you like to argue just to argue. To suggest that you shouldn't have expectations for a game based on the price tag is foolish at best. That price is a 'footnote'? lol If you buy a $60 & have the same expectations when buying a $10 game, then you're probably disappointed quite often, or perhaps you buy the $60 expecting the same quality/quantity as the $10 and are happy all the time? heh
http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/121/1217890p1.html IGN gave 8/10 but gamespot gave 3/10 wat a contradiction :P
You are all wasting your breath trying to convince Tom that their rating system as it applies to classic ports is flawed. No matter how many people tidal-wave in, no matter how lopsided the opinion of the readers are, they are too arrogant to admit that there is a problem here.
@ERoBB, Any game released for modern systems is eligible for review, so I imagine we will review more re-releases in the future. As far as our review guidelines are concerned, you can read our philosophy [url=http://www.gamespot.com/misc/reviewguidelines.html]at this link[/url], but here's some important excerpts:
"The rating we assign to each game is intended to give you an at-a-glance sense of the overall quality of the game relative to other games on the same platform. "
"When we review a game, we consider it at the exact point in time at which the evaluation is taking place (generally, the week of a game's release) and compare it to what we believe to be the current standards of quality at that time."
"Each game we review exists in a competitive environment. That is, a game always has direct or indirect competition from other, possibly very similar games, which causes the game in question to be held to a higher standard."
People who expect me to ignore modern standards should familiarize themselves with our review policies. Also, nostalgia and popularity don't factor into a critical analysis.
Never played the game in the arcade so I don't have any nostalgia for the game at all and I still think it's a good game.
The only thing wrong with this game is that it's $10 instead of the $5....there was a time when Live Arcade would have only charged $5 for this....(TMNT is an example)...it bugs me that X-Men and this have been double the price they should be...especially this one. NO work went into this 'port'
And another thing, If they made Ninja Turles II: The Arcade Game, it would get the same terrible type of review and I would still want to play the crap out of it like I did when I was little!!
Of course it sucks in today's terms! Anyone whos buys this game does not want it for today's level of gaming, you buy it because when you were five and went to pizza hut, it was your favorite arcade game in the corner that you begged for quarters for. Its about saying. "ahhh yes this is what I remember" and then stop playing it, being satisfied that you ok with never playing it again in your life. This game was made for only one reason...Nastalgia
Sorry guys, but I grew up on this game, and it's really not very good. Back in the day, button-mashing with the characters from our favorite show was awesome. But the industry has moved on. Nostalgia's good for about three minutes of fond remembrance, and then you realize you've just paid good money for an incredibly boring beat 'em up. Some games age well, some don't. I have fond memories of dumping quarters into this game at Good Times, and this perfectly honest review doesn't do them any harm. And if this keeps the newer generation of Simpsons fans from a disappointing purchase, McShea did his job.
I remember playing this game when I was younger and loving it. When Xbox live started getting ports of of arcade games I was hoping this would come out and its exactly what I wanted, a perfect port of a game I remember from my childhood that I had a lot of fun playing with my friends. I don't think it was a fools game for me to pay 800 points for this and I wish more ports were done like this and stayed this true to the originals. If companies try to overmodernaize a game this old they just end up butchering it and destroy everything that I remember liking about the old game. Sometimes the best thing a publisher can do to an old game is nothing.
People hating this obviously didn't play this on the arcade and are comparing it to modern games. It was an awesome experience, and playing this with old friends is definitely more than a 3.0 Talking about graphics is catering to newer gamers who dislike games just because they may have some "sharp edges".