Springfield, Springfield, what a great town it is! So much so that The Simpsons is now the longest-running TV show ever, with an amazing 30 seasons coming up soon. Since the show started 30 years ago, Springfield has been the setting for a lot of games that try to cash in on how popular the Simpson family is. Most are cheap ways to make money, but some are surprisingly good. It’s time to do the “impossible” and rank them all, so you know where to get the best virtual D’ohs and Ay Carambas. Oh, and we’re not counting The Simpsons Cartoon Studio because it’s mostly just a movie editor and doesn’t have much in the way of gameplay. Ha-ha!
The Simpsons Skateboarding (PS2, 2002)
EA thought it would be a great idea to turn The Simpsons into an extreme sports game. Doesn’t it make sense? Bart uses a skateboard, and Lisa… Oh well, Homer had a trampoline (you have to say it right), and tricks are the only way to get a grade. And what is a trampoline if not a skateboard with springs and no wheels? Exactly. The game engine is buggy, the voice clips repeat way too quickly, and there’s not much fun to be had here at all. Sigh.
The Simpsons Wrestling (PlayStation, 2000)
The PS1 wasn’t the best console for cel-shaded or polygonal 3D games. But in 2000, it had the biggest share of the market. Who cares then? It was possible to make money! The Simpsons Wrestling is a shambling mockery of a travesty, to coin a phrase. It has bad graphics, bad collision detection, and few moves. In other words, it’s bad in terms of how it works. And the reviews were terrible. But what do you know? At the time, I played it and thought it was funny. Every other second, Krusty says “Oww!” and keeps spamming the same attack… I think what got me most was Barney’s burp attack. What does “lowest common denominator” mean?
The Simpsons Bowling (Arcade, 2000)
Did you know that Konami made more than one arcade game featuring The Simpsons? The good one is later on this list, and there’s also a bowling simulator. Even in 2000, when The Simpsons Bowling came out, the 128-bit generation had already started at home, so it’s strange to see how rough it looks. If I saw it in an arcade, I would know I shouldn’t spend my money on it. But my heart and my hips say, “Keep going!” I’m sorry, but I’m always trying to make a Simpsons reference. So, this entry is neither breakfast nor (breathes in an odd place) lunch, but it does come with a slice of cantaloupe.
Bart’s House of Weirdness (MS DOS, 1991)
This is another game from Konami, but this one is made for PCs instead of arcades. It’s likely that PC gamers can handle more punishment, or that they’ve already paid for the game, so there’s no need to give them something right away. Because, even though the game looks great, it’s way too hard. So much is happening. Every single thing. Scratchy will be in the kitchen trying to hit you with a big mallet if you go there. Butcher’s knives are falling out of the cabinet, and bombs are rolling across the floor and only going off when you try to jump over them. Those who have never played it know nothing about it. People who did it probably never talked about it again.
Bart and the Beanstalk (Game Boy, 1994)
A weird fantasy platformer based on Jack and the Beanstalk has Bart in it. Homer is, of course, the giant. The music is good, but it stays the same from level to level, which is a shame. Bart looks like Bart, and his catapult attack makes sense (though I’m not sure about the dynamite), but the 8-bit platforming is simple and frustrating. It’s not a classic, but I’m sure some people like it.
Bart vs The World (Multi (8-bit), 1991)
A bit out of shape Bart walks around some levels that look nothing like the show and throws things at birds and other animals to kill them. Even by 8-bit standards, the level design is simple, but the funny Bartman sprite and his ability to fly at least keep things interesting. Is it really that interesting? Snuh. Oh, that isn’t a word? So, OK: Bof.
Bartman meets Radioactive Man (Game Gear, NES, 1992)
Bartman is awesome. Fact. In this platform game for the NES, the way he looks isn’t so cool. It looks like the work of a novice. Things got a little better in the zoomed-in Game Gear version, but the platforming is still simple and hard to control. At least the beginning is cool, with Fallout Boy coming out of nowhere (and no, I’m not trying to play a surprise show).
The Simpsons Arcade (Mobile, 2009)
This mobile game is like when a shady counsellor at Kamp Krusty tried to pass off a poorly dressed Barney as everyone’s favourite clown. Ok, it’s not that bad, but it’s clear that The Simpsons Arcade tried to cash in on Konami’s classic beat-em-up with the same name (which you’ll find much, much later on this list) by making a copy that can’t capture the same magic. This is still a sidescrolling, two-button brawler, but you can only play as Homer. The environments and enemies are very boring, the touchscreen controls take some getting used to, and there’s no multiplayer at all. Also, EA removed it from all mobile stores in the end. *Marge grumbles*
Virtual Bart (Mega Drive/Genesis, SNES, 1994)
In this strange thing, Bart is tied to a wheel that spins around and picks a virtual reality minigame at random. Well, I call it “Virtual Reality,” but it’s really just an excuse to have a lot of different types of games that can’t be linked together in any way that makes sense. Oh, I’m so cynical! Me, and in fact, ow! The game is, as expected, not very good, but at least it looks pretty good. Well, it did on the SNES, where Mode 7 let you do a lot of cool things with rotation and fake 3D. The one for the Mega Drive? Not really.
The Simpsons: Road Rage (55)
Most Simpsons games are available on almost every console you can think of, which is an interesting thing about them. Both Simpsons Skateboarding and Simpsons Wrestling were only available for the Playstation. The Simpsons: Road Rage was on everything, from home consoles to the Game Boy Advance.
This version of the game is, unfortunately, a lot worse. The graphics of a portable Nintendo console don’t do a good job of showing how fast this copy of Crazy Taxi is. Because of this, its score of 55 is a lot lower than the rest of the ports.