Monday, October 22, 2007

The Simpsons Game

Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Nov. 1, 2007
Systems: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii, PS2
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: D'oh!

0:01 The demo opens with the predictable theme music and the title coming up through the clouds, just like in the show. Interesting gratuitous shine on the title there...

0:02 Looks like only Bart and Homer are playable in the demo. Because really, who cares about the girl characters? The control explanation screen is littered with stuff, as usual, but it doesn't seem too hard to get used to.

0:03 Kent Brockman is is chasing the Simpsons, who are chasing "an out of control donut mascot statue" -- Lard Lad from that Halloween episode. Fans are probably nodding in approval, non-fans are wondering what the heck I'm talking about. As it should be. Homer says hit to Lenny and Carl while the donut guy brings evil Krustys to life. Some high quality cel animation here.

0:04 Homer, "I wish I had my clown poison." The first of many quips I'm sure.

0:05 The Krustys actually dodge Bart's slingshot attacks pretty effectively by leaping to the side. I was not expecting that.

0:08 There's a lot of stuff going on here if you're observant. I ran into Kang (the alien), I transformed into Bartman to climb a wall and I spied the Frying Dutchman restaurant. A Simpson fanboy's dream.

0:09 So just walking up to and attacking Lard Lad seems ineffective. Time to try a different tact.Meanwhile, Homer scream while running away, "Hey I called no lasers!"

0:15 After wandering around for a while I've seen lots of inside references and heard lots of good lines, but still haven't figured out a way to hurt Lard Lad. Grumble.

0:17 One thing that would be a nice addition -- a map. It would help you find your partner when they wander away at the very least.

0:18 Finally, I get a little Lard Lad help from narrator Brockman. "The Simpsons have got to get into that giant boy's pants." Sure enough, his backside has a big target on it. D'oh.

0:20 One other thing that's annoying... Bart can't pick up certain collectible items, like bottle caps. Why not? Forcing me to switch just to pick something up is not a winning design choice.

0:23 All right! I finally open up the ass and hit Y to tear out some important machinery (after four tries... on the first three hitting Y seemed to do nothing.) Comic Book Guy pops up to tell me I've collected a cliche... "Obvious Weakness." Humorous self awareness, thy name is Simpsons.

0:24 While I'm paused here, this would be a good time to point out the game's amazing aesthetic. It really does look like a Simpsons episode, any way you slice it. Everything is rendered in bright solid colors and moves with life. Lard Lad is especially impressively animated. Bravo.

0:27 A second hatch (just as obvious as the first) appears higher up LL's back. This one requires using the environment to get up higher. Not too hard... there are plenty of things to climb. Quality level design here.

0:30 The camera gets stuck behind a girder here for quite a while. Actually, the camera is the one thing that needs some major work. Otherwise the controls are pretty competent.

0:32 Thankfully, Lard Lad stays frozen for quite a while, allowing you to get to high ground and get in the hatch in the back of the head. Level over! "Eat first, lard crotch," Homer says in a cut scene. Apparently Kang and Kodos were behind everything? That was less than clear in the gameplay. Apparently I missed two more cliches, seven more bottle caps and ten Krusty lunchboxes. Those with no lives will have plenty to keep them occupied.

0:33 Re: the writing, I'm not including many quotes because if I did there would be nothing but quotes in this review. If you've never watched the show it won't be quite as funny, but seriously, why haven't you watched the show?

0:34 A short video shows parodies of Medal of Honor, World of Warcraft, Katamari Damacy, Football, Street Fighter, and Donkey Kong. Plus probably more I missed. Krusty lists features including 16 parody-packed episodes, the ability to interact with 170 characters, and playable Maggie. Finally!

0:35 Not much more to do except play the level again to find more hidden stuff. Seems fun to do but boring to read about, so I'll cut it off for now.

Would I buy this game based on the demo? Yes
Why? The actual gameplay is pretty basic (if well executed) but the Simpsons references and witty parody make it a winner.

This review based on a demo downloaded from Xbox Live.

1 comment:

PsyGuy said...

ah... great post.
can't wait for this simpsons game :D