It was 1992 and I was twelve years old at the time. As a fourth grader growing up in Jersey City, my family used to take me to hang out at the local bowling alley. While my father would go off to bowl a few rounds with the guys, he would hook me with some quarters to play at the alley’s arcade. To the left was the Addams Family Pinball Machine, the middle was a six player X-Men cabinet and to the right was The Simpsons. Back then, The Simpsons was huge. The streets were littered with vendors selling Simpsons T-Shirts, both official and bootleg. BurgerKing was selling plush Simpsons toys with the purchase of a meal. “Aye Carumba” and “Eat my Shorts” became catch phrases on the local playgrounds. Before there was Family Guy, South Park, Beavis and Butthead, American Dad and Futurama, The Simpsons made crude humor in a cartoon mainstream. To see that this series had finally made it to the arcade I played in made me very happy.
Watching the monitor as four kids played and many others were crowded around waiting for their turn, I took in the sights and sounds. The introduction of the game looked exactly like the opening of the TV show. The characters actually spoke in their famous voices. Bart beat people with a skateboard, Marge used her vacuum cleaner, Lisa used a jump rope and Homer just used his fists. Krusty Land really caught my attention especially when it came time to fight the giant Krusty Baloon boss at the end of the level. For myself, it’s still hard to believe that small moment was twenty years ago.
I was always upset that The Simpsons Arcade never made to consoles during that time. Sure, we had Bart vs. The Space Mutants but that game wasn’t even close to the level of fun Konami’s Arcade Brawler produced. Fast forward twenty one years later and finally, after over two decades of anticipation, The Simpsons Arcade has made it to Home Consoles.
Backbone Entertainment, the same folks that designed the emulation for Konami’s other great arcade beat em up, X-Men worked on The Simpsons Arcade. The major difference between the arcade and this is the fact that this version has trophies and online play. There is also a menu called Cool Stuff where you can view character bios, read about the history of The Simpsons Arcade and listen to the sound and music tests. All of these extras must be earned by playing the game and unlocking them. Just like X-Men, the US and Japanese Roms have been included with this release.
Graphically, this game looks really good for its time. The sprites are clean and collisions never get in the way of a heated fight. You also have the option to turn the arcade view on or off as well as smooth out the pixels. The view can also be zoomed in slightly as opposed to keeping the original screen size. I would have been nice if the game was optimized for 720 and 1080p like they did with X-Men but that is a small price to pay for being able to play this classic on my PS3.
The controls are as simple as ever. Square attacks and Cross jumps. I noticed absolutely no slowdown with the emulation and all of the frame transitions and collision detections are on key. When you play in multiplayer, if you stare at another players character, they will combine forces for a tag team attack. This usually takes out multiple foes on screen or allows one person to concentrate on attacking while the other controls movement. Overall, the emulation is perfect and nothing will interfere with your nostalgia on this great game.
I would have liked to have seen a screen glare effect similar to the one used in Final Fight: Double Impact to make the arcade view that much more realistic. However, at the end of the day, I’m just happy I can play this game at home. If this game was a part of your childhood or if you are looking for a quick diversion and are trying it out for the first time, The Simpsons Arcade is a must have. There have been a decent amount of Simpsons games released in the past twenty one years but this one is by far the best. Even Matt Groening says so 🙂