The Simpsons: The Arcade Game is an arcade game developed by Konami in 1991. It is a beat 'em up based on the cartoon series of the same name. The voice actors of the immediate family (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith) provide voices for their respective characters. It uses the same engine and therefore has similar overall gameplay as the very popular 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, also made by Konami. Over the years, it has become a cult classic with its fans. The game was ported to the Commodore 64, and PC. A game-play inspired remake by EA Games was made for the iPhone. Although the plot and actual level layout was mostly altered from the original to avoid conflict with publisher Konami, the bonus Balloon blow up mini-game was included in the remake.
After stealing a giant diamond from Springfield Jewelers for Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers bumps into Homer Simpson, whose family is conveniently walking down the street. The encounter knocks the diamond out of Smithers' hand, and Maggie snatches it in her mouth (to replace the pacifier), prompting Smithers to kidnap Maggie (rather than just the diamond) and run off. The Simpsons must give chase, but hundreds of goons in matching suits stand in their way.
The Simpsons family go through many stages, from a graveyard to a broadcasting studio after Smithers. Eventually, Smithers retreats to a power plant, the final stage of the game. Grabbing onto his helicopter, they go inside after him.
The game ends having the player(s) defeat a "double boss": Smithers, then Mr. Burns in a plutonium-powered suit. Then, once the player(s) defeats Mr. Burns and Smithers, Maggie appears, walking toward the defeated Mr. Burns. A finale cutscene shows her putting her pacifier into his mouth and sucking on the diamond. As the victor, the player(s) stands behind Maggie and picks her up, and the family walks off. The family walks back to Springfield while the credits roll. After the credits, Homer tosses away the giant diamond that Maggie had in her mouth.
The player chooses from one of the remaining four Simpsons: Homer, who punches and kicks; Marge, who swings her vacuum cleaner; Bart, who wields his skateboard; and Lisa, who uses a jump rope like a whip. They fight through the employees and chase Smithers as he escapes through various Springfield landscapes. The game's levels are based on the streets of Springfield, Krustyland, a graveyard, Moe's Tavern, Springfield Gorge, a dream world, the Channel 6 studio, and the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Each level ends with a boss whose speed and strength would increase after taking a set amount of damage.
In Stage 4 (Moe's Tavern), there are several arcade machines, including one of the Simpsons arcade game. There was an Aliens arcade game that revealed the Alien to be Marge wearing a costume. Aliens was made in 1990 by Konami.
Although the game is one of many beat 'em ups produced after Final Fight, it contained many innovations, including the option for two players to team up and attack enemies, with the exact attack differing slightly depending on which two characters were being used. Food could be used for healing, and various weapons and items could be obtained for use for a short time or for a one-time projectile attack. These items were often brought into the game by other Simpsons characters, and the Simpsons' own pets could be used as thrown weapons at various points in the game. The Japanese version of the game included small scale nuclear bombs that, when thrown, clear all on-screen enemies, as well as a life bar that can be doubled by eating food when your character's health was full. The main characters retained their voice actors from the show.
The game features two minigames in which players competed against each other to be the first to finish a task (inflating a balloon shaped like their character in the first game, waking up their character in the second). The minigame was based on repeated button-pushing, with the player who pushed the buttons fastest winning. If fewer than four players were present, the player or players competed against 1-3 computer-controlled characters in these minigames.
The game featured many strange enemies, ranging from the infamous men in the purple suits, to battles with Bongo-like rabbits. The game included battling fat, old men; miniboss-like firemen; and even giant donuts.
One of the visual gags in the game include Marge showing rabbit ears similar to the Life in Hell rabbits, like her skeletal silhouette when electrocuted. According to several DVD commentaries, before The Simpsons became a full series, Marge was supposed to be a Life in Hell rabbit in disguise as an in-joke.
The PC/MS-DOS version of the game was reviewed in 1992 in Dragon #180 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 3 out of 5 stars.
- Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (April 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (180): 57–61.