The Simpsons Game (DS)
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-12-03 Nintendo DS Platform T (Teen) EA

I've been watching the Simpsons for years, and although I don't consider myself a huge fan, I know my fair share of trivia (heck, I even own the trivia board game!) and my husband and I tend to say random quotes to each other on weird occasions.

When I received The Simpsons Game for the DS, I was actually pretty excited, especially considering that I was expecting EA Playground.

The game follows a silly plot: Bart finds the manual for The Simpsons Game, and the whole family finds out that each has a superpower. It doesn't follow the formula of actual episode of the show, but it sure has all the humor and the characters act in the exact same way as fans have grown accustomed to. Comic Book Guy, Duff Man, Ralph, Otto and many more Springfield inhabitants make their appearance, and all have speech lines that will make you grin.

The adventures take place all over town, where you can find familiar landmarks such as the Duff Brewery, Moe?s Tavern, the statue of Jebediah Springfield, the Kwik-e-Mart, the Museum, and obviously 742 Evergreen Terrace, which is where you get a mini-game with Homer.

Pet Homer is basically Tamagotchi, nothing fancy, just a bit of fun. Playing through the levels will unlock more items to use on Homer, such as donuts, pizza, hot dogs, veggies, a razor and shaving cream or a defibrillator. Yes, because after eating so many fatty foods, Homer has heart attacks and you have to revive him. You can also tickle him in different parts of the body (the feet seem to be his favorite) and hear him giggle like a schoolgirl as his mood improves.

In traditional side-scrolling fashion, The Simpsons Game makes good use of the dual screens, expanding the levels vertically. The level design is pretty straightforward, and any puzzles you must solve usually involve the use of two characters alternatively, since every member of the family has a particular ability.

Homer can eat to the point of being able to transform into a huge ball of fat to roll and charge at things, but he can also turn into a human balloon and float. Bart turns into Bartman, armed with a slingshot and able to float larger distances by using his cape. Lisa has a special ability called Hand of Buddah that allows her to move objects with the power of her mind, but can also use music to her advantage. Marge is probably the most curious. She uses persuasion to get other Springfield residents to obey her, so she basically recruits an army of people to follow, like in an RTS.

There are a few enemies in the stages as well, so you have to fight your way through with simple button-mashing (every character has a few kicks and punches they can use). Don't be surprised if you have to kick Chief Wiggum, hit that German exchange student (I always forget his name) with a boomerang or knock down Barney Gumble with a few punches. They respawn constantly though, so sometimes when you fall off from a high platform, it gets frustrating having to fight them all again. At least if your health bar depletes, you have infinite continues anyway.

Basically, the game is used to make fun of videogames, and every time you find a particular video game clich??, Comic Book Guy is sure to remind you with his remarks, be it a spike trap, falling off a precipice, double jumping or using a jump pad. Other games are also made fun of, for example space Invaders, Frogger and Gauntlet (Homer needs food badly!).

Timeless moments from the show are revived, such as Homer's chocolate world dream, a trip to Duff Gardens and Lisa trying to save a forest, which I really appreciated.

As simple, entertaining and funny as the game is, I found that level progression sometimes could have used a hint or two, since at times I found myself not knowing exactly what to do with which character? I'm ashamed to say how long it took for me to get out of the USA stage in the Duff Brewery, just because I didn't understand what to do with Homer.

But you really have to give credit to the artists, the actors and the writers. The places, characters and situations fit into the game like a glove. The cel-shaded drawings look just like the art of any episode. Every line of voice acting is done by the actual performers from the show, and the humor is the exact same, with part of it being specifically directed at gamers. The soundtrack is not as memorable, but it sounds as if it were pulled from any episode.

"Worst? game? ever"? Not a chance, Comic Book Guy! Although short, The Simpsons Game turns out to be a surprisingly good game for the DS, and offers plenty of platforming fun for everyone, plus a bunch of good laughs along the way.

Special thanks to David Chandler and EA for providing a copy of this title.