Love/Hate: The Simpsons Game
The Simpsons Game might have stiff controls, but it also has lots of Homer acting stupid. So, ultimately, it's a wash...
[subhead]Hate: Stiff Controls[/subhead]
Our beloved Simpsons have a long and storied history of awful games. The number one reason most of them fail? Ungodly controls. Just thinking of Bart vs. The Space Mutant's hideous controls makes me shudder. The Simpsons Game for the Nintendo DS is nowhere near as painful to control as some of the abominations of their past. Still, perhaps for tradition's sake, the game plays awfully stiff. New Super Mario Bros it is not.
[subhead]Love: Frequent Checkpoints & Infinite Lives[/subhead]
To make up for the rigid controls, The Simpsons Game grants the player many checkpoints and an infinite number of lives to travel between them. This may sound minor, but it goes a long way to help the game succeed. A Simpsons game is not something you pick up for the gameplay. Instead, you enjoy the references and humor. You don't beat a level and say "Man, it feels good to have conquered that level". Instead, you watch a cutscene and say "Haha, that dumb Homer never learns!". It's more of an interactive episode than a true game. If the game had to be restarted from the beginning after every few failures, it's likely that many people would not get very far and miss the full experience.
The best episodes of The Simpsons can be watched over and over again. I must have watched the Simpsons fight off animatronics in "Itchy & Scratchy Land" at least a dozen times. It's rare that you find jokes from 15 years ago that still hold up today. Unfortunately, after completing the final boss of The Simpsons Game, I can't see myself giving it a second go. The DS card will collect dust, and my pet Homer will starve to death. Poor guy.
"I drink blue juice from under the sink!". Ralph Wiggum, you can warm the coldest of hearts. The original voice talent and writers of the show have created some truly enjoyable dialogue. It's quite surprisingly to see how well it works. The references are vast, covering everything from Life in Hell to lolcats. The care put into the finished product shows that this wasn't "Ugggh, let's get the video game script out of the way". Instead, it ends up being one of the most enjoyable Simpsons experiences in recent memory.
[subhead]Hate: Repetitive Dialogue[/subhead]
Think of your favorite Simpsons quote. Now imagine hearing it nine times in a row. As stated above, The Simpsons lends itself to repeated viewings. However, the combination of stiff controls and infinite lives means that you'll be replaying several parts of the game for a while. During that time you're likely to hear certain lines repeated ad nauseam. It's understandable that it comes with the territory. Still, it's unfortunate.
[subhead]Love: It's the Simpsons![/subhead]
The way The Simpsons Game triumphs is similar to how the television series does. Both are presented in mediums that aren't particularly impressive. However, beneath the surface is rich and hilarious satire. The parodies are funny and the commentary is thick. As expected, no cow is sacred, not even the all-mighty creator himself (both God and Matt Groening). It's clear that the developers have great respect for the series and for gaming culture in general. This is evidenced in an excellent cameo by a gaming icon any self-respecting nerd show know. This is not just a quick and dirty revenue booster slapped together by a room full of clueless executives. The simple title accurately reflects what it is: The video game version of The Simpsons.