Honorable Mentions 1991: The Simpsons (Arcade)

Developed: Konami
Published: Konami
Genre: Beat 'em up
Platform: Arcade(reviewed), PC, C64

Since I need more time for my next GOTY article, I think it's time I break out another filler feature: Honorable Mentions. In this feature I'll look at games from years that I've already covered in previous top 5s that didn't quite make the cut despite still being very good. Today we'll look at Konami's 1991 beat 'em up based on The Simpsons, simply titled The Simpsons. I remember it being one of the earliest arcade games I ever played and being a fan of the show, I loved it. Playing it nowadays, I think it still holds up well and I noticed a lot of goofy references that I probably missed as a kid, like the rabbit from Life in Hell as one of the enemies.

The story goes that the Simpson family is enjoying a day walking in downtown Springfield, when they bump onto Mr. Smithers who just robbed a jewelry store for some reason and he drops the huge diamond that he stole which is caught by Maggie. Instead of being a rational criminal and just taking the diamond, he takes Maggie too for no reason and the remaining Simpsons give chase to save her.

The deadliest boss of all: a balloon.
You play as either Homer, Marge, Bart or Lisa and the game supports up to 4 players so all 4 Simpsons can take part in the action at once. You fight your way through a variety of locations as you chase down Mr. Smithers, all of them inspired by the show. You start at the streets of downtown Springfield, move on to Krustyland, the Springfield cemetery, a rather large version of Moe's Tavern, a nearby forest, a nightmare induced land made of clouds, and finally a showdown at the nuclear power plant with Mr. Burns in a giant robot suit.

The gameplay is very similar to other licensed Konami beat 'em ups at the time like X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so it controls very simply with one button for attacking and another for jumping. It's a fairly easy game, though the bosses can be kinda cheap as in any arcade beat 'em up. Enemies could have used a little more variety. For most of the game you'll fight the same 2 generic thugs, although each level has a few unique enemies that match the theme of the stage, like the zombies in the cemetery.
Uh...Never mind. A giant robot suit might be a little more deadly.
The music is actually pretty good, especially the first level which has a speedy tune slightly based on The Simpsons theme. The sound design is really great, with the all the voice actors of the Simpsons family reprising their roles. I especially love playing as Homer just to hear him say D'OH when he's hit.

The graphics are simple but okay for the time, with each sprite showing a good level of detail and accuracy to the source material. Just look at the header image of my blog and you'll see, in the very upper right corner, one of Homer's attack animations that just cracks me up whenever I see it.

Unfortunately the only way to play this game nowadays if to find an arcade cabinet of it so I'm not against emulation of this one. Konami obviously isn't interested in making money with it anymore so go nuts people. If they ever do put it on Xbox live or PSN though I urge everyone to buy it and show them we want more licensed games that have actual effort put into them. (UPDATE: It's on both XBLA and PSN now. Buy it!)
I'll leave you with the game's first stage music that I mentioned above, courtesy of YouTube user TheOSTation:

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