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Simpsons: Hit & Run Package Art
 GENRE
  Action-Adventure
 DEVELOPER
  Radical Entertainment
 PUBLISHER
  Vivendi Universal
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Simpsons: Hit & Run

Everyone knows that licensed titles aren’t known for their grace, dignity, or otherwise respect for the commonwealth. This is especially the case for The Simpsons, which has suffered plenty of casualties within its own universe, including titles like The Simpsons: Road Rage, Simpsons Wrestling, Simpsons Skateboarding, and (taking it old school) The Simpsons: Bart Vs. the Space Mutants. However, there was only one saving grace for The Simpsons license, which let us hope for the best in the years to come. Thanks to Konami’s beautifully brilliant arcade beat-em-up developed back in 1991, fans had something to hang their hopes on. Perhaps a port would be thrown onto the SNES. Unfortunately after over ten years, gamers have been given titles that only brought disappointment. Now, thanks to Vivendi Universal and Radical Entertainment, The Simpsons: Hit and Run recreates the joy that the actual show has brought fans. Blending elements from Infogrames’ Driver series and Rockstar’s GTA series, Hit and Run is a beautifully emulated title that breathes new life into the license as well as providing some much needed resuscitation for the much abused fan-base.

visuals

Hit and Run portrays the world of Springfield with complete respect and admiration. Every detail is taken straight from the television series, no matter how miniscule. Springfield's city streets are faithfully recreated, filled with colorful expression that perfectly fits the series. Speaking of the streets, each level is filled with little detours in the smallest places where you can go to collect items or coins, just for the sake of exploration. You’ve got a huge area to explore which seems to take forever to drive around, but at the same time, there are small areas between buildings and parks to explore. It’s this kind of detail that brings a sprawling, real-time world to life. The character models are magnificently recreated and look well polished. Vivendi and Radical prove that you can recreate a successful cartoon franchise without the use of cel-shading. Good on ya, guys!

audio

The thing that makes this title really stand out is the fact that every single voice is done by the actors who work on the series. Everyone from Homer to the Sea Captain, hell, even the Spanish Bee guy! They’re all here with their authentic voices. The writing, which is done by some of the series’ current writers, is hilarious and really stands out as some of the best comedic writing found on the GameCube. The sound effects sound great, but are a little murky and may have been produced a little better. Other than those small complaints, they capture the spirit of the game and the television series nicely. The music is taken straight from the series as well, which features some of the best themes found on television, so there’s very little to complain about.

gameplay

Grand Theft Auto without the darker, mature themes is sort of like a Mocha Frappuccino that hasn’t been shaken. Don’t misunderstand, it’s still delicious, but it just isn’t what you’re expecting. The Simpsons: Hit and Run is an easy example of this analogy. In as much as Disney’s Extreme Skate Adventure was a watered down version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, this title is a watered down version of the Grand Theft Auto series. Players take their character from level to level completing mission-based goals, which range from following a car to a specific location to collecting a specific amount of items within a certain time restraint. While all of these goals seem fairly generic, they work and the more involved the player becomes in the game, the more difficult it will become down the line. While there are five playable characters, each character is designated for each specific level. You’ll start out as Homer, and then progress to Bart, Lisa, Marge, and Apu. After the fifth level, you’ll play as Bart once more then finish things off as Homer. The ability to switch between characters would be cool, but each character has their own sub-story arch within the entire storyline.

The biggest difference between GTA and this title is the fact that there is no mature violence or language. The most violent image you’ll see in this game is when characters kick each other. That’s about it. If hit by a car, characters will tumble harmlessly out of the way kicking furiously while saying one of dozens of hilarious phrases such as Lenny’s “Awww, I dropped my bear claw,” or “Sure is a sad day for generic characters everywhere.” Thankfully, the humor of the Simpsons cancels out any violence you’ll ever see on the screen. Also, the Simpsons don’t hijack cars, but merely hitch a ride with other citizens of Springfield. There’s dozens upon dozens of different cars and if there isn’t anything worthwhile on the streets you can always pick up a payphone and get one of your personal or purchased vehicles. Last but not least, once your character has caused enough damage to the streets of Springfield, you’ll reach “Hit and Run”. At this point, Springfield’s 5-O will hunt you down until they catch you and tag you with a 50 coin fine. There’s no outrunning these guys and they’re as ruthless as 10 FBI cars from GTA.

There aren’t many complaints about the control. Every vehicles controls just as well as they do in GTA. However, when on land, controlling your character can be a little cumbersome, especially with the annoying camera. If the camera gets stuck behind a wall, you’ll have to do some serious dancing to regain visuals again. Your character can jump and run, both of which can be frustrating at times. Platform jumping is a challenge, but once you get used to the range of your jumps you can have it down pat. Running is a bit wobbly since you don’t really have full control over where your character runs and they turn fairly slowly. Thankfully they all have infinite stamina and will never tucker out, which is useful during collection missions. These points of frustration and difficulty aren’t necessarily qualms with the overall gameplay, but merely places it could have been tightened up. It doesn’t ruin the experience in any way.

There are tons upon tons of things to collect in this game. In order to collect everything, you’ll need a fair amount of coins in order to get all of the different costumes and vehicles. Some vehicles and costumes are actually required to complete certain missions. Every vehicle and costume is taken straight from the show and some may even bring a laugh when you first see it such as Frink’s Hover Car, Homer’s Car Made for Homer, and especially Barney’s Plow King. You can also collect dozens upon dozens of collectable cards in order to unlock a special secret.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

With an accurate depiction of the television series and fun, addictive gameplay, The Simpsons: Hit and Run is easily the best Simpsons title to hit shelves ever. The writing and extreme sense of humor will definitely get fans turning their heads and exploring every inch of every level. There’s a good 15-20 hours available in this title and any Simpsons fan should cherish every minute. What’s the difference between a good licensed title and a great licensed title? If you take away the license, would it still be a great game? The Simpsons: Hit and Run is easily one of the best licensed games I’ve played in a while and it also makes a great game, period.

final score 8.9/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Austin Starr
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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"


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