Over the course of The Simpsons historic tenure I can only imagine that millions of dollars have been spent (and continue to be spent) on merchandise. One of the more popular ones, for any franchise that can pull it off, are video games. For me, there are only a handful of very good Simpsons games but an even larger amount of bad ones. My aim isn’t to make a definitive list of the best and worst (perhaps another day). I’m merely going to show what I think is the best and worst of the lot with some honorable mentions to go along with it.
The Simpsons Hit and Run (2003, PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC)
Easily the most successful game of the franchise. This isn’t really surprising when you think about it because it basically copied Grand Theft Auto (which was the hottest game at the time). The show’s writers and cast all chipped in and were a part of the game which made a huge difference both to quality and authenticity. The cut scenes, in-game dialogue, and even the wacky one-liners are all very snappy and surprisingly topical for the time. The self referential humor was also a nice touch.
Significantly more impressive is the amount of detail put into the design of Springfield itself. The different levels of the game are broken up into three specific sections of Springfield, each with its own separate identity. One is the suburban area, which houses the Simpsons’ home, another is the city’s downtown area, and the last is in and around the city’s harbor area. Aside from the obvious landmarks, Hit & Run also hosts a ton of slightly less obvious locales, such as Chester Lampwick’s solid gold house, the gigantic Lard Lad Donut statue, and even the now-defunct monorail station.
I was also really surprised that the developers managed to put the various buildings together in a believable way. The Krusty Burger is next to the Noiseland Arcade which is next to the Android’s Dungeon. Also, Fat Tony’s Legitimate Businessmen’s Social Club is down the street from Moe’s Bar. These touches really bring the world of Springfield to life.
The game isn’t without its flaws however. The game plays very awkwardly when on foot as punching and kicking objects is a slow and plodding affair. Driving segments are smoother but lack variable mission structure and types (its mostly races, chases or find item X). Because of this the game can get a bit repetitive.
Despite this though, there’s enough cool tidbits for fans of the show to enjoy, like playing in Lisa’s ill fated ‘Florida’ costume or driving the ‘Mr. Plow’ truck. The writing and the overall design really make the game special. Easily the best game of the franchise.
Honorable Mentions: The Simpsons Game (2007, all platforms), The Simpsons Tapped Out (2012, Mobile)
The Simpsons Wrestling (2001, Playstation)
Back in the early 00’s the original Playstation was still selling well ahead of its successors release. Wrestling was also at the height of its popularity so I assume it only seemed natural to combine them.
Unfortunately, what we got was nothing more than a button mashing, clunky mess. There’s not really any wrestling involved as you can literally beat the game blind by simply mashing all the attack buttons. There are hardly any weapons and you can’t even exit the ring. There’s also only 12 playable characters which is unforgivable given the actual amount of characters on the show. The whole thing just felt really cheap and because of that is the worst game in the franchise.
Honorable Mentions: The Simpsons Skateboarding (2002, PS2), The Itchy and Scratchy Game (1995, Super NES, Sega Genesis)