Throwback Thursday - The Simpsons - Arcade
We live in a world of oversaturation. In nearly every facet of media, the technology of today allows independent artists to create their work—whether it be cartoons, games, music, or some fusion between the three. There is now more entertainment being produced annually then anyone with a full-time job could hope to watch, and prime time animation is no exception.
But this was not always the case. In fact, 20 years ago, there was really only 1 major player in the primetime animated game: The Simpsons. Sure, many primetime cartoons tried their hands at American stardom; but at the end of each sweeps week, the Simpsons was the last man standing—and standing tall (though South Park had a niche audience as well).
Many companies sought to profit on Fox’s animated phenomenon. In fact, during the 1990’s, children were offered 15 different video game iterations of the Simpsons and their hometown of Springfield. Over 7 years, different releases crossed various platforms, with Gameboy even getting 4 exclusive titles (Bart Simpsons’s Escape from Camp Deadly, Bart vs. the Juggernauts, Itchy and Scratchy Miniature Golf Madness, and Bart & the Beanstalks).
I can’t say whether all of these options were worth playing. In fact, I believe that I was only able to try Krusty’s Fun House and Bart’s Nightmare on SNES thanks to our local rental outlet. Beyond that, my Simpsons experiences at home were limited to the cartoon each Sunday night.
Of course, there was one Simpsons experience so epic it could not be contained to an at-home system: The Simpsons Arcade Game. Published by Konami in 1991, The Simpsons Arcade Game was an immense success that entertained fans in malls and pizza joints across America, not to mention at boardwalks on both coasts,. For the mere cost of a quarter, friends or strangers were able to play as one of four characters: Bart, Homer, Lisa, or Marge and duke it out on the mean streets of Springfield against both nameless grunts and notable characters from the beloved show. When all 4 family members were onscreen, the game was a quite a sight (and from what I recall, far easier to beat)
Though the gameplay for The Simpsons Arcade Game was typical for the time, the humor and easter eggs hidden throughout the screens made this a somewhat unique experience. Whether you wielded a skateboard as Bart, a jumprope as Lisa, a vacuum as Marge, or just fists as Homer, the hack-and-slash title offered fun times and insider tidbits, always enticing players to pump one more quarter into the machine to experience the next level of surprises. This game was a real treat for fans tuning in each week, and we were happy to pay for the fusion of arcade mayhem and humorous delights. I never recall beating the game, but I remember always enjoying it.
How bout you? Did you spend hours at Chuck E Cheese fighting for Springfield’s safety? Or am I the only one who remembers Marge’s leaping vacuum attack?
PS - as of this writing, there have been at least 27 Simpsons Video Game titles, plus a playable “Springfield” world on Lego Dimensions. From what I know, Tapped Out seems to be pretty good, but I have to ask the editors, do any other Simpsons games compare to the magic of this original arcade attraction?