The Simpsons
Question: How do you create an arcade game based on the longest running cartoon series ever made - The Simpsons - and accurately capture the subtle, sophisticated, adult humour contained in one of the funniest shows to grace a TV screen?

Answer: Oooh, tricky ... erm ... four-player scrolling beat'em-up?


Yes, that's right - to cash in on Matt Groening's hugely successful animated look at American dysfunctional family life, Konami have transformed Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa into Double-Dragon style fighting vigilantes! That said, a lot of effort has gone into replicating the look and humour of the series. The storyline as seen in the game's attract mode, sees Maggie (the youngest Simpson) caught up in the middle of a fumbled jewellery shop raid in which she ends up in possession of a huge diamond. The crooks make off with the baby and the rest of the family follow in an attempt to get her back.

Players can choose between any of the four characters, each of whom has their own special moves and style of fighting. Bart uses his skateboard to good effect, Lisa her skipping rope, Homer relies on fisticuffs and Marge her trusty vacuum cleaner. Each player can perform one special move - achieved by pressing 'jump' and 'attack' simultaneously. Additionally, players can link together for further special moves - for example, standing Bart and Homer side by side allows Bart to hop onto Homer's shoulders.

The Simpsons' mission to save their beloved sprog takes them to many familiar and often bizarre locations. These include Moe's Tavern, Springfield cemetery, Springfield Nuclear Plant and Dream Land - a bizarre level visited when our hapless heroes are knocked unconscious. Foes are just as strange and include zombies, giant doughnuts, a huge grizzly bear and an out-of-control bowling ball. To break up the action, two intermission levels have been included - both completed by pressing the two action buttons as fast as possible to achieve the desired result. The first is a race to pump up a balloon used to escape and in the second you must slap the face of your character as quickly as possible in order to regain consciousness. Along the way, familiar characters from the TV series make cameo appearances often carrying food which increases energy levels when eaten.

The effects of watching Coronation Street too often have been well documented

Part of the groovy Dream Land level

The stuff they don't show on London's Burning

Aesthetically, fans of The Simpsons could ask for nothing more. The town of Springfield is recreated accurately as are it's inhabitants. Audio is of a similar quality and the theme tune and character voices are used well. Initially, gameplay is fun and much pleasure is to be had bashing up zombies, fat old men and giant doughnuts. The urge to see the next level is strong and playing spot-the-cameo is as much fun as the game itself. Once completed however, playing through again becomes tedious due to the game's repetitive nature. With only a few moves per player, the lack of depth soon becomes apparent and repeatedly hitting the 'attack' button leaves me hankering for a real beat'em-up. Graphically pleasing, The Simpsons ultimately fails due to it's shallow gameplay and lack of variety.

Graphics: 89%

Sound: 84%

Gameplay: 62%

Overall: 66%
Springfield and it's inhabitants are all faithfully replicated and animated - a pat on the back to Konami's graphics team. An almost perfectly recreated theme tune precedes in-game music perfectly matched to suit each level. Sound effects are also up to standard with good use of character's voices. Fun at first, the shallow nature of this simple button-bashing fest becomes apparent and boredom soon sets in. A great looking game marred by simplistic gameplay and lack of variety.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Final Fight • Captain Commando • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles • Golden Axe

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Battletoads (NES/Gameboy) • Streets of Rage III (Megadrive)

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