By Jeremy Gibson
The Simpsons have been entertaining fans for almost two decades. With hundreds of episodes, a movie and several games under its belt, the producers must have hit the wall, right? Not quite.
The Simpson family is back in yet another game, released on the PS2, Nintendo Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS and PS3. The game picks up when Bart finds a mysterious game guide for “The Simpsons Game.” The book explains how all of the Simpsons have certain powers. After fooling around with these for a bit, Bart decides to use these new powers around the town for whatever fun might catch his eye.
The game plays like an action platformer. In every level you control two characters, each with his or her own special set of abilities. Using both characters is essential to figuring out puzzles and surviving each obstacle thrown your way.
Various levels of the game are pulled straight from the series itself. One level is titled “Lisa the tree hugger” after an episode where Lisa attempts to save an oak tree from loggers. But in reality, “The Simpsons Game” is a parody of everything done before it.
The game not only pokes fun at the series, but also at other games, movies, humanity, and in the end, Christianity. The story revolves around the family’s desire to find out where the book came from and what it means for their existence.
Levels are creatively designed and open enough for players to run around and explore. Each level is designed around an already finished idea. For example, near the end of the game you play through a level based on Neverquest. This is particularly funny because children are used as hobbits while Patty and Selma are portrayed as the dragons. Subtle jokes such as these are what make “The Simpsons Game” such a joy.
The controls are simple enough to pick up and get the hang of. Each character has at least one special ability that he or she can control. Homer has a sonic belt that stuns enemies; he can also turn into a doughboy and charge items such as crates and cracked walls. Homer can also turn into a gummy-Homer and shoot gelatinous goo at people, and he can suck up helium and float across large chasms.
Marge has a megaphone, which enables her to recruit people to form a mob and, when aimed at something that can be built, commands her followers to build. She also carries Maggie, who can crawl through small holes such as air ducts. Lisa has her saxophone that originally stuns her enemies and later causes them to fight each other. She also has Buddha Power that enables her to control a giant hand from overhead that can pick up certain objects and flick enemies. Bart can turn into “Bartman” and climb walls or use a slingshot to get around maps. He also has glider wings.
The only problem with the game is the camera is often a nuisance. This happens mostly when enemies swarm you, but it occasionally happens when you are trying to look in front of your character, and the camera won’t allow you to swing behind.
Aside from small problems with the game play, “The Simpsons Game” has its share of comedy, such as Lisa proclaiming “This game will be obsolete when the Xbox 720 and PS4 comes out.”
Matt Groening also makes a guest appearance as himself. And the end of the game, though some have complained about it, is absolutely hilarious.
“The Simpsons Game” isn’t a game to rush out and get, but its comedic genius definitely warrants a rental if nothing else.