Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


The Simpsons Game  (Playstation 3)

Playing The Simpsons Game is bound to make you laugh at least a few times and, the gameplay itself is a lot cooler than you’d expect it to be. Most of the game boils down to generic platforming action with a few interesting twists that keep things fresh. The Simpons Game’s main gimmick is the ability to switch between two characters while you play each level. This is a fun gameplay system and allows you to view the action from different perspectives. Excellent visuals and sight gags make you feel like you’re watching an actual episode of the series, which makes this an excellent purchase for anyone who loves the cartoons.

It would be easy to dismiss The Simpons Game as another cynical game tie-in, but the joke would be on the cynics themselves, since this release captures the light-hearted and humorous tone of the series effortlessly while making sure there’s a decent and enjoyable game underneath the jokes. Its gameplay structure is fairly simple and this makes the game easy to get into. Players begin their quest inside of a virtual Springfield , where they can wander around and talk to the many inhabitants of the city and walk inside some of the more famous locations. These include Comic Book Guy’s shop and Moe’s Tavern to name a few of the many places you can explore in the game. While there are plenty of areas for exploration, this dries up pretty quickly, and the fastest and easiest way to see new things is to play through the missions. Along the way, you’ll be able to see numerous pickups and collectible items that you can pick up. These take the form of humorous emblems for each character such as Duff Beer caps for Homer and Krusty the Klown toys for Bart to name a few. Of course, Lisa collects little Buddhas, which is kind of funny in itself. This attention to detail and focus on these relatively minor aspects shows a consistent approach that makes the game stay true to its comic roots and makes things a lot more fun than it could have been had its developers done a typically indifferent job.

One of the more impressive aspects of the Simpsons Game is that
Springfield ’s size is fairly large, bright and colorful, just as you’d imagine the comics to be. While this gives you a lot of room to explore, it can be somewhat difficult to get your bearings. To help you along, you’ll usually see a bright beacon telling you where the next mission is located. Each mission in the Simpsons plays like a mini-game in itself, and they each have their own strategies and goals. Once inside the mission, you can usually see the next objective marked clearly. Things are fairly straightforward in the gameplay department and it takes a fairly basic behind the character platforming approach throughout most of the game. However, the twist here is that you can alternate between two of the main characters in order to complete each task in the game. Since each of the main characters has unique abilities, such as Homer’s transformation into a giant rolling ball or Marge’s ability to use a bullhorn to nag and control crowds. These different abilities tie in with the characters’ well-known personalities and add a welcome touch of comic relief.

The controls are sharp and intuitive and make switching between characters and using their special powers a snap. Obviously, the key to beating each level comes is deciding when to use each character is a key element in succeeding at each mission. It’s a good strategy when you get stuck in a certain area to look at things from the other character’s perspective, which is fairly easy to understand, though the game itself will usually prompt you when you need the other character’s help. The game’s basic level designs and structure is fairly simple and usually involves some puzzle solving and action elements such as pulling switches or standing on a certain object while the other character goes through the blockage. The game also throws a few enemies at you from time to time, and these hand-to-hand combat sequences are fairly easy to get through. Occasionally, you’ll also have to face off against some of the Simpsons’ neighbors in timed rounds such as a world wide eating contest in the Duff Brewery, which makes things slightly less challenging. It offers a decent variation between its individual levels which helps to keep you motivated, since you never know what crazy adventure awaits you next time.

From a gaming standpoint, the Simpsons offers a fairly average experience, but what sets the title apart from the pack is its winning sense of humor. There are loads of in-jokes and satirical levels based on popular games, with loads of comical references. For example, during the game, whenever a ‘video game’ cliché occurs, such as moving blocks, you’ll get a message from Comic Book Guy deriding your gameplay. Veteran players will get a kick out of some of the parodies, with names like Medal of Homer and Grand Theft Scratchy, not to mention digs at retailers and the whole gaming violence controversy, and poorly designed tie-in titles starring the Simpsons themselves, this release definitely hits more targets than it misses. This is done probably due in large part to the actual writers from the show supplying many of game’s jokes – it helps keep things consistent. The Simpsons also includes actual animated sequences produced specifically for this release, which fans of the series should definitely enjoy. This is all presented in a really cool 3D cel-shaded animated engine that makes the world of
Springfield come to life in previously unimaginable ways. Being able to walk around and see all of your favorite characters come to life is really cool. The camera system is fairly good, though there are some issues like clipping and pop-in that come up from time to time, but none of these issues are enough to detract from the overall experience.

While The Simpsons Game is an enjoyable and entertaining title, it’s by no means perfect. The system of switching between two main characters gets a little tedious after awhile and makes its gameplay feel choppy. Some of the levels aren’t as inspired as you’d expect, which makes them somewhat tedious. There can be some extensive backtracking in certain locations and there are areas in this game that can be genuinely tedious if you make a small mistake. That being said, the flaws in this release aren’t nearly as bad as they could have been. Anyone who’s ever played a bad licensed game can probably breathe a sigh of relief at how decent this one actually turned out. The Simpsons Game is a good game that effectively captures the spirit, look and, feel of its cartoon inspiration with a cool game engine that makes an effective translation into 3D without ruining the experience.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B-

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