The Simpsons Arcade Game Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, Feb 08, 2012 20:30

While there were some home computer ports, The Simpsons Arcade Game hasn’t been available on home consoles until now, which is pretty unfortunate given just how popular this 2D side-scrolling brawler was back in the early 90s. Lots of people have great memories of working with up to three other players, using famous characters from the TV show, and plowing through hordes of enemies. This makes for a rather simple game experience that wouldn’t hold up as a full-budget title today, but it makes a lot more sense as a ten dollar Xbox Live Arcade download and this port hits most of the right notes.

The Simpsons Arcade Game (Xbox 360)Played in the style of games like Final Fight and Double Dragon, The Simpsons lets you pick from Homer, Marge, Bart, or Lisa (who have minor differences in abilities, but are mostly interchangeable) and fight through various locations from the show in a quest to rescue Maggie. The plot is very basic, and that’s fine since it’s just an excuse to beat up dozens of enemies per stage. You have simple arcade style controls, consisting of moving in eight directions via the d-pad or analog stick plus a jump and attack button. Using them in basic combinations allows you to do a few special attacks, but by and large this is a very easy game to learn.

Much of the fun lies in the characters and how they fight. Plenty of famous lines are heard, voiced by the original actors. Even as you’re enjoying that, you’ll be jumping around and plowing through enemies, throwing bowling balls at them, doing special team-up attacks (a different one for each Simpson pair!), and otherwise working together in ridiculous ways. The inherent charm of the Simpsons setting thus does a lot to cover for the basic game mechanics, even if some of how this game uses it may not make much sense to those deeply familiar with the series and its lore.

This is best experienced with other players, something the online play and its generally low lag in decent conditions will make pretty enjoyable. People can join and leave as they please, and the host has the choice of either letting each player have ten credits apiece to play on or a shared pool of forty; either way is probably sufficient to let any decent group beat the game within thirty to fifty minutes. Yes, that is minutes and not hours; this was an arcade game, so getting your full value from this purchase will require multiple play-throughs. If you’re someone who has a need for several easily agreed upon co-op games, this fits nicely.

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Our Rating for The Simpsons Arcade Game Review (XBLA)
7.0 Replay
Repeat sessions are essential to get your money’s worth. Fortunately, since almost anyone can learn to play in a few minutes it’s a fine co-op experience that you’ll come back to on occasion. Being able to unlock a gallery and alternate version of the game serve as decent rewards for this.
7.0 Graphics
Clearly ancient-looking, and not helped by only the bare minimum of effort to make it look decent on modern displays. The franchise’s iconic art style saves it, making it fun to look at nonetheless.
8.0 Sound
While there are some noticeable audio quality issues due to the game’s age, authentic voice acting from the TV show’s cast join some excellent music.
7.0 Gameplay
There’s no avoiding that this is a very simple arcade game, and it is inherently repetitive. Thankfully it’s both short and wild enough that you won’t get bored before the game is done.
8.5 Multiplayer/Online Content
Online and local co-op for up the four players (you can even mix and match, having some players on the same machine while others connect over the internet) works very well, and is the best way to enjoy this. A short but reasonable list of options for online play helps keep things running smoothly too.
7.5 Overall
Primarily of interest to fans of arcade brawlers and those who enjoy easily agreed upon co-op games with friends, this is a fine slice of nostalgia at an acceptable price.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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