Joel: I played a few of the early Simpsons games (anyone remember Bart vs the Space Mutants??) over the years and was fairly unimpressed. I remember spending a fair bit of money playing an upright cab in a restaurant in Ibiza once, many moons ago, but I don’t recall which (Simpsons) game it was and I think it may have been borne out of desperation for something to do that I spent so much on it. So when I received Simpsons Hit and Run as a Christmas present one year, I was a little apprehensive. I have to say though, on first glance, I was pretty impressed. The main menu screen is a dynamic scene of the Simpsons’ living room, which changes theme on special occasions like Xmas and Hallowe’en -Which brings a wee smile to the face.
Firing up the single player mode, you’re provided with a decent length, well-polished cutscene to set the story in motion (something to do with townspeople being spied upon by large robotic camera-wasps or something IIRC) and you’re off. The actual gameplay, graphically, is a pretty decent representation of Springfield and its residents. The city is on a fairly large scale for a game of this age and as you would expect of any Simpsons brand product, the attention to detail and inside jokes are all there. The objective of the game really is to get to the bottom of and ultimately stop the aforementioned wasp-powered spying, gallivanting about the place GTA-style. Sadly I never made it to the end of this game and not for a lack of trying. I’ve had it for at least eight years and still can’t beat the same point in the game, to my eternal shame. But I had a good time trying, visiting all the landmarks, finding the hidden gems and interacting with all the various Springfieldians.
Apparently you have to reach a certain point in the game to unlock the multi-player mode. I don’t remember this specifically, but I’m sure I have already unlocked it. I will check before we go live, naturally. But… The reason I think this is because I’m sure I’ve already played it. I think they are sort of top-down mini races, not remarkably related to the single player mode, or even the Simpsons really. More like the Micro Machines games.
2003 was a tough year to decide on – There were a good number of notable releases – Max Payne 2, Silent Hill 3, Midnight Club II, Devil May Cry 2 to name just a few, but there were reasons against many of them being used – we may already have had another game from the franchise, being single player only or, tragically, being PC based. We decided early on to avoid PC games because the last thing we need “on the night” is for some game to inexplicably crap out because it’s running on something modern. Personally, I would have picked something else if I could, but we couldn’t find anything better. Though I have just spotted that both SSX3 and Time Crisis 3 came out this year… Shame the old light-guns won’t work on modern TVs.
Liam: Bit of an odd one this one. Generally TV/Movie game tie ins have left us with some of the worst games in the history of gaming – as anyone who has played King Kong will happily testify. The Simpsons franchise has led to 26 games currently, of which I am ashamed to say I have played around twenty of, and a few are surprisingly quite good (Bart Simpsons Vs. The Juggernauts being my personal favourite). The game itself may not be the most memorable game on our list, but there is no denying that if you have grown up in the past 30 years the Simpsons is a cultural behemoth that deserves recognition. Many of the games have heavy involvement by the Simpsons scriptwriters and some of the shows humour seep through into the playing experience.
The single player game is pretty fun, an open world adventure and driving game which plays a little like a tame grand theft auto. The multiplayer mini-game which we will be playing on the night is also pretty fun. It’s a very simple top down racing game where you can play as any of the four main Simpsons characters (I assume Maggie is in the car next to marge playing with her pretend steering wheel) and for no reason at all – Apu. Not that I have anything against Mr Nahasapeemapetilon, in fact he is one of my favourite characters in the show and I would be playing as him, but his inclusion here as the only non-Simpson character always seemed a little odd. If anyone it should be Hank Scorpio! If any video game developers are reading this you should totally make a wacky races Simpsons games, and Hank Scorpio should be in it. I would buy it.
2003 was a bit of an odd year for us, we put this game in as a placeholder as we already owned a copy and just plain forgot to review it afterwards. We are still considering picking up a Gamecube and playing Mario Party 5 or switching to either SSX tricky, Mortal Kombat or Tiger Wood Golf. It’s still under discussion so we may be losing the Simpsons and switching to another game – watch this space. For the meantime through Springfield’s famous residents will be a good diversion for an hour.
- He’ll sting you with his dreams of power and wealth.
- Beware of Scorpio!
- His twisted twin obsessions are his plot to rule the world
- And his employees’ health.
- He’ll welcome you into his lair
- Like the nobleman welcomes his guest
- With free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest!
- But beware of his generous pensions
- Plus three weeks paid vacation each year
- And on Fridays, the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!
- He loves German beer!