Genre: Beat ’em Up
Developed by: Konami
Published by: Konami
Feeling Like: Doing what I feel
Not all titans of industry start that way. Most tech giants have some rags-to-riches tale about how two guys in their mother’s garage figured out some algorithm that would eventually make them billions. Despite their silver spoon upbringing, most politicians would lead you to believe they came from humble backgrounds. We admire how struggle leads to success, how small beginnings may have given us a clue into greatness. Can we predict brilliance?
Not with the first few seasons of some of the greatest shows, we can’t. The entry episodes of Seinfeld, Star Trek: TNG and Parks & Recreation are comparably terrible, but none compare to the Simpsons.
It’s not like Season 1 of the Simpsons is awful, but it’s impossible to believe that it would eventually grow into the best comedy in entertainment history. The early days of corny catchphrases and rough animation may have been a cornerstone of the 90s, but it wouldn’t stand the test of time for longer than a few years.
That’s why The Simpsons Arcade Game is such a bizarre entry into the 500. It contains none of the wit, none of the heart, none of our generation’s building blocks of comedy invested in it. It’s a standard beat ’em up with a Simpsons logo stamped on it.
But, like all four player cooperative arcade beat em ups, it allows four player cooperative arcade beat em up gameplay. On the BC ferries, this is akin to front row seats on Broadway of the hottest show in town. This is the pinnacle of entertainment available to 11 year old me, with 11 year old me funds.
It’s the very first Simpsons video game, and it shows. Character models don’t exactly match; Smithers looks weird, Bart is wearing the wrong colored t-shirt (I sure hope somebody got fired for THAT blunder) and I don’t ever remember seeing the main grunts in any of the episodes. Give them props for getting the main voice actors though! Hearing somebody, ANYBODY else but Dan Castellaneta say “D’oh” is pure heresy to a hardcore Simpsons fan.
It’s fine on your own, but like golf, or dim sum, or Beerfest, the quantity of entertainment enjoyed hinges around your group. Co-operative attacks are available, the frame rate doesn’t dip when scores of bad guys descend upon our intrepid family and watching Lisa hop up on Homer’s shoulders, proclaiming “Let’s Get ‘Em Dad!” is impossible not to smile at.
Gameplay isn’t the appeal here; successful traversal of the eight levels will result in 1-4 mildly competent players, lots of button mashing, a few dodges and co-operative attacks whenever possible. The bonus stages add in competitive mashing, as you blow up your likeness while frantically trying to ignore that your fellow cabinet member is going way faster than you are.
Nostalgia plays a powerful factor here. If it wasn’t my favorite license, and didn’t provide me with more than a few happy memories playing with friends on the ferry, it would be far lower on the 500.