The Canon: The Simpsons Arcade Game

While on vacation Erin and I got the chance to visit a very nice arcade called Replay Museum in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Among their cabinets was The Simpsons arcade game, a game I played regularly in Chuck E. Cheese and hotel arcades.

Simpsons-Arcade-Machine

What made it great then? The Simpsons have touched numerous genres, but their 1991 foray into the beat ’em up genre, courtesy of Konami, is not one to be missed. The game is incredibly similar to other games in the genre: 1-4 players control the Simpson family as they go on a rampage through Springfield trying to save Maggie from Mr. Smithers and Mr. Burns. You can move your character up and down the screen as you scroll to the right fighting goons, clowns, zombies, etc. The main downside of the game is its ability to eat up a ton of quarters, especially if you want to see the whole game. To get the best experience, I would suggest going to a free-play arcade (you pay an entrance fee) if you want to play the whole game.

What makes it great now? I have played The Simpsons a handful of times in my adult life, and while I have a lot of affection for it, it is far from the best game featured in The Cannon. It is a solid beat ’em up, but it gets fairly dull if you are trying to actually complete the game. Actions get repetitive, and I found myself a little bored and very cramped by the time I reached the third stage. I think its value comes from being a pretty good looking licensed property game. So many licensed games were/are total crap and The Simpsons was able to merge the visuals and humor of the show with solid game mechanics.

Why should it be remembered? The Simpsons is the longest running animated series and the longest running sitcom. It is unlikely that it will lose those titles anytime soon, so it’s safe to say that The Simpsons hold a special place in American pop culture. The Simpsons (game) shows a very early time of the show. It was released in 1991, during the second season of the show. It is a snapshot of this early Simpson aesthetic that has been buried by the subsequent seasons. Additionally it speaks to the early popularity of The Simpsons that an arcade cabinet was produced so soon after its inception.

-Peter

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