Week of Rage: Contender – The Simpsons Arcade Game

Today’s contender feature is also one of my favourite arcade games. When Konami released this title in 1991, it quickly gained notoriety for being a complete and utter riot. The show was still relatively new in the UK at this time and Simpsons-mania was spreading through the world like wildfire. As a result, a spin-off game was inevitable.

The game was based around the same format as Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle arcade tie-in, with four player support and a Streets of Rage gameplay mechanic. The plot sees the Simpson family walking through Springfield only to bump into Smithers who happens to be carrying a priceless diamond. Thinking the jewel is a pacifer, Maggie grabs it and starts to suck on it as Smithers makes off with her. The rest of the family then have to fight their way through a legion of goons hired by Mr. Burns to get her back.

Gameplay footage of Homer battling his way through downtown Springfield

Each of the four family members has a distinct fighting style. Bart clobbers goons with his skateboard, Homer lets rip with his fists, Lisa whacks people with her skipping rope and Marge ‘cleans up’ the streets with her vacuum cleaner. I always preferred Marge as her hoover has great reach. The same goes for Donatello’s bo staff  in the Turtles game.

The family fight their way through a samurai set at Channel 6 headquarters

As a tie-in, it was bang on the money. The gameerfectly captured many familiar locations fromof the show, with recognisable backdrops such as the Noiseland Arcade, Moe’s Tavern, the Nuclear Power Plant and more. There are also numerous cameos by characters from the show. The stages themselves ranged from run of the mill to zany. For example,  stage five was set in the woods surrounding Springfield. After defeating a giant bear, the characters fall off a cliff and get knocked unconscious. The following stage sees them battling devils, flying saxaphones and giant bowling balls in dream land. It’s incredibly ridiculous but enjoyable stuff.

The dream land stage. Pure genius. Watch until the boss fight, it’s crazy.

The Simpsons Arcade game is one of the best early side-scolling beat em up titles out there. Released the same year as the original Streets of Rage, it was something of an innovation for the time. Following a glance at the game’s Wikipedia page, I learned that it was supposedly the first game in the genre to offer team-up attacks.

Currently, eBay is offering Simpsons Arcade cabinets for just under £400 and I think if I ever win the lottery, it’s perhaps the first thing on my shopping list. I can only dream right? 😛

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