The Simpsons Arcade made the 90′s awesome. Fact. Hitting the arcades with your friends and arguing over which of the popular Springfield characters you’d control, before going on to kick some nameless henchmen’s butt. What’s not to love?
Now, The Simpsons Arcade is back, courtesy of Backbone Entertainment and it’s just as fun as ever. Although it’s showing its age in the looks department. Arriving on PSN and XBLA, this is the perfect port of everything you’ll remember fondly of the arcade version, complete with its 4:3 ratio, bright Springfield-esque colours, fun but cheesy dialogue and a few extras too.
Those who are big fans of The Simpsons but have never played this game before are in for a real treat. Basically, you and up to three other players (playing as Homer, Marge, Lisa and Bart) are on a mission to save Maggie who has been kidnapped by Smithers (Mr Burns loyal servant). The action takes a side-scrolling beat-em up guise (think Streets of Rage), you go along beating nameless henchmen; either using your fists or all other manner of items you find lying about along the way. As with most games of this type, you can also recover your health, which generally has Homer acting in delight, thanks to the fact that he’s eating something.
Each section is divided into stages based on well known parts of Springfield. Once you get to the end of each stage, you’ll then find yourself up against end of level boss, who obviously provides a tougher challenge than the previous thugs. Once you get through them all, you’ll eventually find yourself up against the big boss – Mr Burns.
Although The Simpsons Arcade is essentially a port of the original game, that hasn’t stopped Backbone from including a few extras. One of the extras that sticks out most is the inclusion of the Japanese ROM which is unlocked after completing the game. The Japanese version includes a different point system, new items, such as an atom bomb and the ability to gain more health than your health bar will allow. It’s not a huge difference, but it is noticeable and therefore a great inclusion for enthusiasts.
One of the other main extras is the ability to smooth over the graphics, this allows you to tone down the pixel, making for a much better looking game. Sure it’s still in 4:3 ratio, but with the ability to zoom in on the action and the option to use a cabinet background to blank out the edges, this becomes less of an issue.
As well as the above, Backbone has also added some tweaks to the game modes, adding in a limit on how many coins you can use. This allows you to play through with a limit of 40 or 10 coins. For the hardcore, you can show off your gaming powers thanks to the survival mode; allowing you to try and beat the the game with just one life.
Finally there are also a few other extras, enabling you to unlock original promotional art, music tracks, sound effects, and character art.
If you were a fan of The Simpsons Arcade the first time around, then you’ll love this. While it’s showing its age a little, it’s still a classic through and through. Backbone Entertainment has done a great job converting this classic, and while it may be a little retro looking for some, for me a least, it’s a welcome blast from the past.
Rating: Excellent Review Policy (version tested: Xbox 360 / Xbox LIVE)
The Simpsons Arcade is available on Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network for 800MS points (around £6.29). PlayStation Plus members will be able to download the game for free.