In the mid-90s Konami could do no wrong in the arcades. Hit after monster hit seemed to roll out of the Japanese company, not the least of which being the variety of beat’em up games they were releasing.
The absolute madness of six-player action in X-Men Arcade was a big draw to any arcade for me. Seeing cartoon favorites like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have their own cabinet with awesome visuals was pretty damn cool too. But no other cartoon ruled the 90s quite like The Simpson’s. And wouldn’t you know it, Konami made a game about the too!
The bright blue color mixed with the familiar voices of Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Bart Simpson made this arcade machine easily recognizable. You can play as one of the four Simpson’s on a quest to save Maggie from the clutches of Mr. Burns. The plot is ludicrous and follows no real canon from the show itself, rather just borrowing characters and locations to use in this side scrolling beat’em up.
Like X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpson’s arcade game has up to four player multiplayer. You can perform special moves with each character, but largely they all play the same. Visually the game looks identical to the cartoon it is based on, with the same cheery colors adorning each level. Cameos from fan favorites like Krusty the Clown and Comic Book Guy will appease kid and adult fans alike.
The game itself has a bit of infamy behind it, as it was only ported once outside of arcades. In 2012 and 2013 the game was made available online through PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Shortly after that, though, the game was no longer available to download and has since not been seen again. If you missed it then, you’re only chance of playing this gem is to find a cabinet in the arcade.
Honestly whenever I see this machine I try to play it. Even if I can only get through the first level or two on one life, it’s worth it each time. The production value on this game is great, and it still holds up well today. I think being based on a licensed cartoon made it hold up well: the animation matches the source material, and it’s nails the humor that makes the series fun. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the gameplay is super fun, too!
*Played at Pinballz Arcade in Austin, Texas 2019