The Simpsons Game Wii
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst the quality of The Simpsons has taken a real dive over the last few years, there can be no denying that for the most part it’s been a very humorous animated series and it’s a series that has millions of loyal fans the world over. Needless to say then that a game that manages to capture some of the series’ humour will definitely prove to be very popular. The Simpsons Game, for the most part, does manage to incorporate a fair bit of The Simpsons style humour and also manages to lampoon the game industry too.
After a short tutorial, featuring Homer in the Land of Chocolate, the game will begin with Bart purchasing a copy of Grand Theft Scratchy, a game he isn’t old enough to play. On leaving the videogame store, he bumps into Marge who spots the game and confiscates it. Annoyed, Bart mooches around until he finds a copy of The Simpsons Game manual. He opens the manual and discovers that he and the other members of his family have special powers. There isn’t so much of good story here as a whole load of hilarious nonsense that fits together surprisingly well. All of the game’s sixteen levels have their moments with some being based on older episodes and some being parodies of other games (there are levels called NeverQuest, Medal of Homer and Shadow of the Colossal Donut). The game has a fair amount of collectibles and whilst you’ll probably finish your first play through in less than eight hours there’s lots of replay value here.
The Simpsons game is essentially a 3D action game with quite a few platform game elements thrown in for good measure. In each of the game’s levels you have two characters who you can switch between. When you’re playing by yourself the character you’re not using will be AI controlled and, in all fairness, the AI does a good job. It’s more enjoyable if you have a friend to join in and take control of the second character. The interaction between the two characters is always the key to solving the missions because you have to make use of their individual abilities.
Each character has a unique special ability that requires power, with each Simpson having an item that can be collected to help fill the power meter. Bart has a Power Shot he can perform with his catapult. Homer has a Power Burp. Lisa has a Saxophone Spin that initially causes enemies to be stunned but later causes them to turn on each other. Marge has a Megaphone Blowback which gives powerful blasts from her megaphone. In addition to these special abilities, the Simpsons also have other abilities. Bart can transform into Bartman, Homer into Homer Ball, Gummi Homer and Helium Homer, Lisa can use the Hand of Buddha and Marge can get others to do her bidding with her Mob Marge ability. Whilst the game is fairly enjoyable, mainly because of its humour and subject matter, you’ll soon realise that in terms of the game-play, The Simpsons Game is a bog standard 3D action platform game. It’s also very repetitive and you’ll find yourself doing the same things over and over again.
Given the uniqueness of the Wii control scheme, it was always going to be interesting how the control system fared. We’ve also played the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions of this game and there the controls felt good with the right analogue stick controlling the camera. The Wii controls don’t feel as good to be honest. The biggest gripe is that the directional pad has been used to control the camera and it just doesn’t feel right. In fact it makes controlling the camera feel like a chore, which is unfortunate as you need to babysit the camera quite a bit during the course of the game. You can press the Z button to pull the camera back behind your character but this is rather jarring.
It’s to be expected that the Wii version of The Simpsons Game doesn’t look as sharp as the 360 version. In fact, it’s pretty much on a par with the PlayStation 2 version. That’s not to say it looks bad however. In fact the graphics are more than acceptable and the characters and the various environments all look pretty much like they do in the TV show. The frame rate remains pretty solid throughout and the only dips we experienced were when we were playing two-player co-operatively in split-screen mode.
With The Simpsons Game having liberal amounts of humour it’s all the more pleasing that the game offers subtitles. The subtitles aren’t enabled by default however and when you begin a new game you’ll go straight into the tutorial level without the subtitles being enabled. Once the first cutscene is over you’ll be able to pop into the options menu and enable the subtitles. This is especially disappointing because the first cutscene is Homer in the Land of Chocolate and it’s quite amusing. Once the subtitles are enabled, the bulk of the comments from various characters are shown in text. The subtitles in the Wii version are just plain white text and at times it can be tricky to read the text because of the colour of the background. There are no character names next to the subtitles and it isn’t always possible to know who is saying what. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time. The game also shows all tutorial messages in text.
The Simpsons Game won’t be remembered as one of 2007’s finest titles but it will certainly be remembered as one of its funniest. The game is actually funnier than the TV show has been for some years and it almost hides the fact that there’s a pretty bog standard action platform game here. Thankfully the game is subtitled so deaf gamers will be able to enjoy the game’s humour. The Wii version has a few bonus mini-games but on the whole it’s not quite as good as the other versions of the game because of its rather more cumbersome control scheme.