Remember the old Simpsons arcade beat ’em up from 1991? Have you ever thought it would be a great fit for the iPhone? Well, EA seems to have had a similar thought, but this is not the exact same game you pumped your quarters into as a kid. It’s obviously inspired by that earlier classic, but with some pretty significant changes to make it completely original.
For starters, you only control one character: the American everyman, Homer Simpson. The plot of the game, which was written with the help of one of the show’s writers, is that Mr. Burns intends to steal Springfield’s resources, and hides the plans in a donut. Through Smithers the donut unexpectedly lands in Homer’s hands, and Homer must fight off Men in Suits and a dozen familiar Springfield locals.
This new game has several things going for it that the 1991 arcade version didn’t. For one, the bosses and minibosses in this game are actually established characters from the show. In an early level on the mean streets of Springfield, we fought against Mayor Quimby and Police Chief Wiggum (who was armed with a nightstick and Taser). Later in the game we saw a showdown at GOP Headquarters, where the Rich Texan and Rainier Wolfcastle are your main opponents.
This arcade brawler uses voice samples from the show featuring the entire main cast, so you’ll hear Dan Castellaneta’s annoyed grunts and Hank Azaria’s “glabens”. As a Simpsons tribute, it seems very faithful. As a game, it still remains to be seen how successful The Simpsons Arcade will be.
The controls feature just two buttons, a punch and a jump, which can also be used in combination for an area-of-effect belly flop. Holding down the attack button allows Homer to charge, and occasionally other members of the family like Bart, Lisa, and Marge will activate screen-clearing special attacks, such as Bart’s rapid-fire slingshot or Lisa’s earth-shaking jumprope slam.
There are even a few minigames, one of which is lifted directly from the original arcade game. You have to pump up a balloon by rapidly tapping a button, tying to out-tap your computer opponents. Also, when Homer is beaten in the side-scrolling part of the game, you can slap him around to make him get up. Another minigame lets you tilt your device to catch donuts in Homer’s mouth.
While we have mixed feelings about The Simpsons Arcade not being a straight port, but rather a completely original game inspired by the arcade brawler, there’s still a lot to be excited about. The production values seem great, and it will be a treat for fans to encounter the dozen familiar bosses and minibosses across six themed locations. It’s a single-player game, though, so don’t expect any multiplayer family action. You won’t have to wait long to try it out, because The Simpsons Arcade will be available soon on the App Store.