Hit and run
The year of reference is 2007. The most popular animated sitcom of all time already has more than one videogame transposition: from Konami’s oldest coin-op to Road Rage and Hit & Run of the PlayStation 2 era. L ‘Reception was never particularly enthusiastic, being designed with simplistic gameplay or with little input from the minds behind the show.
After the expiration of Vivendi’s publishing rights, the license passed to Electronic Arts, which was immediately ready to repeat itself on seventh generation. With the already named The Simpsons Hit & RunIn 2003, however, things were slightly improved, and even the public had noticed. It was therefore decided to start from there giving greater involvement and freedom to the original authors and screenwriters of the sitcom. The result is a gameplay game that is far from perfect but capable of transposing those that are the strengths of the original.
Animated parody or animated parody?
The Simpsons The Videogame can be summarized in two words: metavideoludicaand citationism . The first is when a video game speaks of itself and of its world, the second is when it pleases and parody other intellectual property.
Ideas that have always been the strength of the television show, and finally end up in this video game. Starting from the inception: Bart finds by chance the Simpsons’ Video Game Handbook, and so casually he discovers that the booklet can give him and his family unique and distinctive powers. It will be the beginning of a long odyssey. This is organized in full respect of what is the episodic structure that is now tradition for the series: each level is in fact an “episode” that tells independent events but at the same time linked by an (here explicit) fil rouge .
And it’s no coincidence that this video game has been approached by the staff of the writers of the show the same way they think of a whole season of the series. To make this feeling even more real, the cutscenes take place. Only in very rare cases the CG or the gaming engine is adopted, most of the time they are specially designed and animated segments.
An idea that, in its obviousness, is brilliant to give this game a personality and independence that lead it beyond the basic tie-in . And another essential role is played by the original voices of the series, with dialogs specially recorded for the game.
And for the first time, the Italian version is no exception: all the cast is present, by the famous Monica Ward for Lisa and the late Tonino Accolla. Never as in this case the characters would not be themselves without the voices that they have always accompanied, and that they carry out a work of the highest quality.
Basil but effective
In fact, the plot soon reveals an excuse to stage a grand opening of tributes, quotes and parody. Aside from the self-quotations (specifically inserted for the joy of the teledependents) the game actually raises virtually anything related to the gaming world.
It goes from aesthetic gifts and word games (such as Moral Kombat or Sitar Hero ) to teasing around the very nature of video game and industry all around. From the Comics Man who comments
bored clichésof our media up to the level in which you enter the game code, which looks like a bouncing bubble of radioactive waste.
And there is also the opportunity to scratch even deeper: memorable the scene that sees Mayor Quimby and EA president (censored name) basking in a whirlpool, gratifying how he is selling well among the children the violent Grand Theft Grattachecca .
So the attraction is all about the original storyline and atmospheres of the series, obviously recreated to perfection. Also because gameplay keeps to a very basic level. It moves, acts and coordinates characters to solve simple environmental puzzles and prevail over enemies.
Each family member has in fact received special skills consistent with his background: Homer can become a ball, Bart becomes the famous Bartman, Lisa has telecinetic powers through Buddhist meditation and Marge can manipulate the crowd. As a whole, there are some minor variations as bland platforming and some fighting with giant bosses, but in any case the levels are complete without any particular shakes.