We all love The Simpsons. Family Guy, South Park and Futurama are all great and we always make a point to watch them whenever they come on TV – but it’s only The Simpsons which we buy on DVD. There have been many Simpson’s games over the years, most of which weren’t very good but this one is actually co-created by EA and the writers of the show. Now is the time for a closer look and review The Simpsons game for Wii.
TSG is a sprawling 3D adventure platformer featuring all your favourite Simpsons characters (unless one of your favourite is very obscure that is). The game starts off with you controlling Homer during his Land of Chocolate dream, however unlike the scene from the show, here you are following a white rabbit across the level (yes, a bit Alice in Wonderland) who is teaching you the basics to the game. After you’ve completed that you’ll be whisked back to Springfield into the familiar surroundings of the Simpsons house, this acts as your hub between levels and also shows your current status levels and bonus item count etc. When you’ve finished exploring the house thoroughly it’s time to head to the front door and walk into the golden orange force field and start your first proper mission, before it’s started though you’re treated to a really nice and authentic looking cut scene with all the voice acting performed by the original cast – no sound alikes or audio ripped from the show thank god. There are many more cut scenes throughout the game too.
So to the story! In one of the first cut scenes an instruction manual for The Simpsons Game suddenly appears through some sort of wormhole and into the hands of Bart – he soon realises that he is in a video game but can use the moves (or special powers to be precise) described in the manual to his advantage. This quasi realistic storyline may take some brain twisting but you’ll get it when you start playing.
From now on things get a bit more interesting, you aren’t just controlling one Simpson in each level, an example being one of the earlier levels where you take hold of Homer and Bart as you chase the bullies through the Springfield museum. You need the skills of both characters to complete puzzles and progress onwards. Bart has a cape which lets him glide to out of reach places or up drafts of air and Homer on the other hand can roll himself up into a giant ball and knock things over. Sometimes it can be as simple as requiring Homer to pull a switch so that Bart can cross a previously impassable path (or vice versa). The three other main Simpsons are playable too, Marge has a speakerphone and can control mobs, Maggie is small and is needed to negotiate small passageways and Lisa has the power to move large objects with telekinesis. Sometimes you’re controlling Bart and Homer, next you could be in control of Marge and Maggie and there are even levels where you switch between three or more of the Simpsons. It is good to see that you can play most levels cooperatively with a friend on one console, the screen is divided so you both have independent views of the game – this is much more of a fun way to complete the puzzles than having to manually switch over to another character when playing on your own.
So how does the game fair when it comes down to it? There is quite of fun to be had with The Simpsons Game, it has an interesting story and some good puzzle solving – the script being written by the TV show writers and the voices performed by the real actors really do add to the feel of the already impressive looking game world created by EA. The game is constantly poking fun at the games industry and classic gaming icons such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Street Fighter and Medal of Honour (as well as many more) – the gaming cliché system is pretty neat too, you collect tokens every time you perform a specific gaming cliché, a good example being ‘The Double Jump’. It’s also just a lot of fun to take control of The Simpsons family in the wonderfully recreated 3D Springfield town, sadly you don’t get to travel everywhere or have the freedom to explore but this is the closet you can get to actually visiting Springfield. So that’s the good, what about the bad? Well the missions are a bit of a hit and miss affair – a mix of themes from classic Simpson’s episodes which don’t quite feel right in the game and some new specific ones written especially for the game which wouldn’t feel right in the TV show – rather odd. The game camera is awful, you can be running towards your goal and suddenly the camera will swing around madly or get stuck behind a building. This can make some of the platforming sections very difficult; having to jump a gap when you can’t see where the ledge ends is crazy! Another thing that really get’s on our nerves are the respawning enemies, we know that this game is parodying games from past years but we’d rather have some more puzzles than waves of identical looking characters running towards you – this is something that that should have remained in the past.
Let’s stop beating about the bush; graphically The Simpsons Game for Wii is very good looking. The character models, environments and everything else looks as it should – the cell shading is perfectly done too. The added motion control is not really anything to shout about, waggling the Wii Remote to trigger an action such as Homer’s ball rolling or Marge’s speakerphone antics is just not worthwhile, the controls may as well have been mapped in a standard format to the Wii controller as far as we’re concerned.
We like many elements of The Simpsons Game for Wii but the lack of gameplay depth and bad camera make it a chore to play through – there is however plenty of fun to be had and humour to see and hear if you are able to persevere to the end. So for not being that good or bad we give The Simpsons Game an average 5 out of 10.
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