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The Simpsons Arcade

The Simpsons Arcade Game is an arcade beat 'em up developed by Konami released in 1991, and the first video game based on The Simpsons franchise. The voice actors of the immediate family (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith) provide voices for their respective characters. It uses the same engine[citation needed] and therefore has similar overall gameplay as the 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, also made by Konami. The game was ported to the Commodore 64 and MS-DOS soon after its launch in the arcades. The game was released on Xbox Live Arcade on February 3, 2012 and was released for the PlayStation Network on February 7, 2012.
It’s been requested for like the longest time, and for good reason.  Konami’s 1991 arcade take on The Simpsons is, without a doubt, one of the best video games the animated family has ever seen.  Granted, that’s mostly because the home games featuring the likes of Homer, Bart and the rest of the clan have outright sucked, namely garbage like Virtual Bart and Bart vs. the Space Mutants.  Konami was just able to “get” that certain something that made them click, rather than surrounding them with lame gameplay aspects.

             Now, 21 years after the arcade game’s release, we finally get a meaningful home port, courtesy of Konami.  Of course, it was a smart business move on their part, since both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men: The Arcade Game did fairly well on the download front.  But kudos to the developers at Backbone Entertainment, who have not only retained all the glory of the original coin-op, but added some great bonus goodies to boot.In the game, you choose from Bart, Lisa, Homer or Marge as they set out to rescue baby Maggie, who’s been kidnapped by Smithers after she interrupts their jewel heist and gets a big diamond stuck in her mouth.  Over the course of eight stages, you’ll battle all sorts of goons while picking up food items and weapons, ranging from bowling balls to living animals, like Snowball II.  At the end of each stage, a boss awaits, including a blown-up Krusty balloon, a weird-looking Kabuki dude, and, one of the best end bosses in a video game, Montgomery Burns in a multi-transforming robot suit.  “Excellent.”

The Simpsons Arcade Game
TSAG DOS front.jpg
Advertisement flyer of the game depicting the four available characters and Maggie, the character they must rescue.
Developer(s) Konami
Backbone Entertainment (XBLA, PSN)
Publisher(s) Konami
Composer(s) Norio Hanzawa
Platform(s) Arcade, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network
Release date(s) Arcade
  • NA March 4, 1991
Xbox Live Arcade
  • NA February 3, 2012
PlayStation Network
  • NA February 7, 2012
  • EU February 8, 2012
Genre(s) Beat 'em up
Mode(s) Up to four players, simultaneous
  • ACB: PG
  • ESRB: E10
  • PEGI: 7+
Cabinet Standard
Sound Sound Chips: YM2151 (@ 3.579545 MHz), K053260 (@ 4 MHz)
Display Raster, 288 x 224 pixels (Horizontal), 2048 colors


The gameplay itself is sheer beat-em-up action, so Konami doesn’t reinvent the wheel – nor does it need to.  This is blissful arcade gaming at its best, and it’s fun to play through, even if the run ends in like 30 to 45 minutes.  You can also play with friends, either locally or online through Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network.  From the sessions we tried, it works just fine, even if folks are just dropping in to help you beat up a bear in the forest.  (Yes, that’s right, a bear.)

But the Simpsons Arcade Game also comes with bonus features.  Once you beat it the first time around, you’ll unlock the Japanese mode, featuring some alternate text and mild changes.  You’ll also unlock extra goodies with each playthrough using certain characters, including promotional flyers and posters, along with a diverse Simpsons character guide.  We didn’t even spot Itchy and Scratchy until this feature pointed out where they were.
In addition, extra modes are available, including a Survival mode, where you try to beat as many people as you can with one life (good luck); and Quarters, where you have a specific amount of credits, just like an arcade game.  (Free Play is also available.
While The Simpsons hasn’t exactly aged well in terms of graphics, they are arcade perfect, right down to Homer’s ignorant blinking as he walks and Marge’s brutal assaults with a vacuum cleaner.  Additional options are worth noting, including a sharp/smooth graphic filter and the default sized arcade screen.  As for audio, you’ve got plenty of character voices (“I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?”), along with decent (though a little annoying) music and cartoon-style sound effects.

        We’ve waited for ages to see The Simpsons Arcade Game get a home release, and now that it has, we’re completely fulfilled by it.  Not only is the game itself arcade perfect, but the bonus options and inclusion of online play will make it a party favorite for some time.  So get rid of that Space Mutants cartridge and enjoy The Simpsons the way they were meant to be played, man.

            The game begins with Waylon Smithers and two of his goons stealing a giant diamond from Springfield Jewelers for Mr. Burns. Smithers bumps into Homer Simpson, whose family is conveniently walking down the street. The encounter knocks the diamond out of Smithers' hand, and Maggie snatches it in her mouth (to replace the pacifier), prompting Smithers to kidnap Maggie (rather than just the diamond) and run off. The Simpsons must give chase, but hundreds of suit wearing goons under Mr. Burns' employ stand in their way.

        The Simpson family go through many stages chasing Smithers, from Downtown Springfield (Stage 1), Krustyland theme park (Stage 2), Springfield Discount Cemetery (Stage 3), Moe's Tavern (Stage 4), the Springfield butte (Stage 5), a concussion induced dreamland (Stage 6), the KBBL's Channel 6 Broadcasting studio (Stage 7), and the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant (Stage 8, the final stage). 
The game ends with the player(s) having a showdown with a bomb throwing Smithers and then finally Mr. Burns who is in a plutonium-powered armored fighting vehicle. Then, once the player(s) defeats him, Maggie appears, walking toward the unconscious Mr. Burns. A finale cutscene shows her putting her pacifier into his mouth and sucking on the diamond. As the victor, the player(s) stands behind Maggie and picks her up, and the family walks off. The family walks back to Springfield while the credits roll. After the credits, Homer tosses away the giant diamond that Maggie had in her mouth.

         The player chooses from one of the remaining four Simpsons (as shown in playable order): Marge (The first player), who swings her vacuum cleaner; Homer (The second player), who punches and kicks; Bart (The third player), who wields his skateboard; and Lisa (The fourth player), who uses a jump rope like a whip. They fight through the employees and chase Smithers as he escapes through various Springfield landscapes. The game's levels are based on the streets of Springfield, Krustyland, the Springfield Discount Graveyard, Moe's Tavern, Springfield Butte, a dream world, the Channel 6 studio, and the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Each level ends with a boss whose speed and strength would increase after taking a set amount of damage.

In Stage 4 (Moe's Tavern), there are several arcade machines, including one of the Simpsons arcade game. There was an Aliens arcade game that revealed the Alien to be Marge wearing a costume. Aliens was made in 1990 by Konami.


Although the game is one of many beat 'em ups produced after Final Fight, it contained many innovations, including the option for two players to team up and attack enemies, with the exact attack differing slightly depending on which two characters were being used. Food could be used for healing, and various weapons and items could be obtained for use for a short time or for a one-time projectile attack. These items were often brought into the game by other Simpsons characters, and the Simpsons' own pets could be used as thrown weapons at various points in the game. The Japanese version of the game included small scale nuclear bombs that, when thrown, clear all on-screen enemies, as well as a life bar that can be doubled by eating food when your character's health was full. The main characters retained their voice actors from the show.

The game features two minigames in which players competed against each other to be the first to finish a task (inflating a balloon shaped like their character in the first game, waking up their character in the second). The minigame was based on repeated button-pushing, with the player who pushed the buttons fastest winning. If fewer than four players were present, the player or players competed against 1-3 computer-controlled characters in these minigames.

The game featured many enemies, ranging from the infamous men in the purple suits, to battles with Bongo-like rabbits. The game included battling fat, old men; miniboss-like firemen; and even giant donuts.


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