The Simpsons Game (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 13.11.2007

Despite the massive success of The Simpsons Movie earlier this year, rather than directly cash-in on the film, EA has instead crafted a separate new tie-in title across all formats. But considering the DS always seems to get the rough end of the stick when it comes to multi-platform efforts, you have to wonder just how well does this version hold up, especially given most of the past Simpsons titles have been less than fantastic. Can EA pull one out of the bag and shock us all?

From the very start of The Simpsons Game it becomes quite clear that EA has definitely been extremely generous with the title, splashing out on a larger DS cartridge that manages to hold a large amount of video clips that look like they are right out of the TV show, plus a massive number of scripted lines, all performed by their on-show counter-parts. The animation of the characters whilst playing through the actual adventure and the levels you play through might stray onto the bland side somewhat, and there are spates of slowdown when things grow too hectic, but overall the presentation and general feel of the game is perfectly 'Simpsons' and the quantity of speech crammed into the tiny DS media card is astounding, with all the lines delivered perfectly clearly as well.

As for how it plays, The Simpsons Game is a platform title at heart and a pretty generic one at that. However, rather than this being a negative issue, the developer has purposely chosen to take the clich

Screenshot for The Simpsons Game on Nintendo DS

For the main part, the game has you either controlling Bart or Homer, with Lisa and Marge taking more of a backseat. All four characters have a double-jump ability, plus a basic punch/kick attack that turns into a combination move if the attack button is pressed repeatedly. However, each also has various special abilities, with Homer being able to eat food, grow into a large ball and comically steam-roll through enemies, as well as shoot upwards off small ramps to traverse gaping chasms. Bart can float using his Bartman cape, use a grappling hook to cross large gaps and attack from distance using his trusty (and upgradeable) slingshot. Both of the men in the family provide some great old school platform fun, with precision jumps required, plenty of crafty dodging of incoming projectiles whilst attempting to avoid falling into an abyss and even a couple of 'leaps of faith' thrown in for good measure.

The levels that require Lisa and Marge's special talents are especially fun, though, since they make good use of the touch controls as well. For instance, Lisa's special move is to be able to move certain objects around a stage, for example unblocking a pathway or even creating new platforms to climb onto, all done by touching and dragging the required objects around. Marge, ever the pacifist, prefers to use others to do her bidding, carrying out (the sometimes violent) tasks she would rather avoid. Therefore, on her stages players must tap on various other characters from the TV show to get them to follow good ol' Mrs. Simpson and they can then attack 'the enemy' by consequently tapping on them, or even perform other tasks, again by touching the area that needs to be dealt with.

Screenshot for The Simpsons Game on Nintendo DS

The levels are not simply split into groups where you use just one character or the other, though, as certain stages require a pairing up of family members, with each one helping the other to solve puzzles and progress further into a stage. These sections prove to be thoroughly enjoyable and really do make full use of the characters' abilities. There are also plenty of varied boss battles, such as a large dragon with two heads (one being Selma and the other Patty, Marge's Homer-hating, heavy smoking sisters), mini-games to help break up the action (like a Space Invaders rip-off featuring Bart or a Frogger clone starring Lisa and Bart together), as well as even a multiplayer element. Everything is interlaced with a plentiful supply of voiced quips from the family, as well as the supporting cast throughout each stage, and whilst not everything is laugh-out-loud funny, it does add to the 'jolly' atmosphere of the game. As do the large amount of video clips that look like they are lifted straight from the cartoon series itself and the various extras thrown in, such as the Pet Homer section, which is basically like the original Tamagotchi from the early 1990s. The worry when approaching the review of a licensed game such as The Simpsons Game is that everything could turn out to be too dull, boring and run-of-the-mill. The final result here, however, is that everything works perfectly because the developer has purposely taken all the stereotypical elements of standard games and meshed them together into one surprisingly pleasing package.

Screenshot for The Simpsons Game on Nintendo DS

As for how long the whole thing will last, thanks to the extremely regular usage of checkpoints and lack of lives (characters simply re-spawn at the last checkpoint without any penalty), The Simpsons Game turns out to be rather a simple affair and far too short, seemingly being aimed at the younger market. Veteran gamers should be able to breeze through the main adventure in around four hours or so. That is not to say the difficulty is terribly low, since gamers will find that death sneaks up on them very frequently due to some tough level design. It is just that the infinite lives aspect that means progression is much too easy on the whole. But it does really help to keep frustration levels down and make The Simpsons more attractive to that wider demographic that EA was aiming at in order to achieve high global sales. Upon completion, there are some extras that will keep both youngsters and die-hard Simpsons fanatics satiated, with multiplayer (single- and multi-card) options, lots of extras to collect and bonuses that are unlocked during play that can be tinkered with or even played in some circumstances.

Screenshot for The Simpsons Game on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

If it was not for the crippling brevity of the adventure, The Simpsons Game could have been one of the shockers of 2007, proving to be a damn fine platform adventure for DS. However, what is left is a technically impressive title with lots of positive points that is, disappointingly, over far too quickly. Saying that, The Simpsons charm does lure you in more than if this was any other standard platformer, so if you are a fan, be sure to at least give this a whirl...

Developer

Amaze

Publisher

EA

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date Out now   

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