The gameplay engine is derived from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (another game by the same company). Up to four people can play, assuming the roles of Homer (who uses good old fisticuffs), Marge (who swings her vacuum cleaner), Bart (who swings his trademark skateboard) and Lisa (who whips enemies with her jump rope). Two players could perform team up attacks on enemies, a feature introduced in this game. In addition, the four playable Simpsons are voiced by their respective voice actors from the series, providing quips and general observations. Due to the fame of the show, the game can still be found here and there wherever arcade games still exist.
Due to Acclaim's home console license for The Simpsons in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, it was not ported to any of the major consoles of the era. However, it was ported to the Commodore 64 and as a DOS title, but due to obvious technical limitations, they couldnt live up to their bigger brother. Thanks to MAME technology, the game can be emulated in all its original glory on modern computers. Outside of MAME, an online-capable port of the game was released as a downloadable title for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in early February 2012, just ahead of the 500th episode of the series.
A game inspired by it, The Simpsons Arcade, was released by EA Games for the iPhone. Reception was decent, but it was criticized for having a name that might dupe people into thinking theyre buying this game. That's not to say they don't put nods to the original arcade though.
Tropes present in this game:
- Acrofatic: Homer manages to kick a lot of butt and go through plenty of dangerous situations in spite of his obesity.
- Adaptational Badass: Mr. Burns' absolute lack of athleticism due to his age is often played for laughs in the show. Here, in his appearance as the game's Final Boss, he's fully capable of throwing down against four people at once in a Plutonium-powered Mini-Mecha armed with miniaturised Nuclear Bombs, among other weapons.Mr. Burns: (bursts through the wall of his office) Welcome to your grave, suckers!
- Adaptational Heroism: Nelson and Sideshow Bob appear in the fifth level, offering a slingshot and Power-Up Food to the family respectively.
- Adaptational Villainy: Mr. Smithers, who robs a jewelry store for a mere diamond and attacks by throwing handfuls of bombs around with reckless abandon. This is due to the video game taking place in the early days of the show, before he received character development and he was only established to be Mr. Burns' right-hand man.
- Ascended Extra: Professor Werner von Brawn, who was only in one episode of the show, managed to become the first boss of the game. Also, the drunken boss in Moe's Tavern resembles a background character from the first season episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home".
- Aside Comment:
- If left idle for too long, the characters will turn to the screen and say a line. Except Homer, he just yawns.Marge: (shaking her hair) How's my hair?
Homer: (yawns) Eeeeeeugh!
Bart: (making a face) Who the hell are you?
Lisa: (making a face) Ha ha, made you look!
- When burned by an enemy, the characters will turn to the screen and say a line.Homer: Eesh, I'm fried!
Marge: This burns me up!
Bart: I'm toastified, man!
Lisa: Hey, no fair!
- If left idle for too long, the characters will turn to the screen and say a line. Except Homer, he just yawns.
- Ass Kicks You: One of Marges attacks is to smack enemies with her rear end.
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: At the end of Springfield Butte, your characters jump into a river to swim after Maggie, who's currently floating away. But then they see a waterfall coming up (along with Smithers grabbing Maggie from a helicopter) and instantly change their tune.
- Badass Boast: Mr. Burns gets a pretty good one just before you fight him — with emphasis added by him bursting through the wall of his office in a plutonium-powered mech suit and throwing Maggie to one side.Mr. Burns: Welcome to your grave, suckers!
Smithers: Welcome to my world!
- Likewise, Smithers when he appears wielding fistfuls of cherry bombs to throw:
- Badass Family: The four playable Simpsons qualify, since they're fighting loads of bad guys just to save Maggie.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: Homer uses his bare mitts to fight.
- Bears Are Bad News: The boss of Springfield Butte is a ferocious bear. Once defeated, it's revealed to actually be a fat mook in disguise.
- Big Bad: Mr. Burns is the main villain.
- Bonus Stage: There are two bonus levels. The better you do, the more points you get.
- In the first one, which follows Downtown Springfield (stage one), you have to pump up a large balloon shaped after your characters head by mashing the attack and jump buttons.
- After Dreamland (stage six), you have to mash the attack and jump buttons to slap your character into waking up.
- Boss-Only Level: Stage 8 pits your characters against Smithers as he throws bombs around, followed by Burns in a multi-stage battle in which he pilots a mech suit.
- Breath Weapon: The drunk boss of Moe's Tavern breathes fire. He sometimes sneezes out smoke as well.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- In stage one, an advertisement for this very game is posted on the wall of the video arcade. The arcade itself appears in the Moe's Tavern level.
- One of the "Hurry up!" hands will try to kill you if you stop for some time.
- Brick Joke: In Krustyland (Level 2), you see a bear escape from its cage. Then in Springfield Butte (Level 5), you see (presumably) the same bear chase off Mr. Smithers.note
- Button Mashing: Subverted, somewhat. Over-reliance on button mashing will actually cause your character to stall for a second. Played straight in the Bonus Stages.
- The Cameo:
- The rabbits from Matt Groening's Life in Hell comic strip, appearing in the pre-level bumpers and even as enemies! And as a gag, Marges X-Ray Sparks animation reveal her to be a rabbit in disguise.
- If you look at a spritesheet, Marge's rabbit ears also show up occasionally.
- Milhouse offers a hammer and Nelson a slingshot to whoever gets to them first, in Stage 2 (Krustyland) and Stage 5 (Springfield Butte).
- Also Patty and Selma, Abe, Terri and Sherri, Skinner, Martin, Otto, Howard (from the episode "Moaning Lisa") and even Sideshow Bob make small cameos throughout the game. The XBLA/PSN port catalogues all of the Simpsons universe cameos.
- Canon Foreigner: All the bad guys in the game were created for the game and never appeared on the show save four, Professor Werner von Brawn (the pro wrestler boss who's just really obscure), the drunk at Moe's (also really obscure), Smithers and Mr. Burns.
- Though the tall thug boss has a resemblance to reporter Dave Shutton from the early seasons. One might consider the boss of Dreamland Marge's bowling ball named "Homer" (it even scratches its butt).
- Canon Immigrant: Krustyland first appeared in this game; it had not even been mentioned in the show up to this point, and wouldn't appear until several seasons later.
- Cartoon Bomb: Smithers wields hundreds of these as part of his second-to-last boss appearance; running around and throwing handfuls of them toward the player(s) to blow them up, or slap them with his cape if they get too close. Certain ones turn out to be duds, which can then be thrown back at Smithers to damage him.
- Chain Reaction Destruction: The boss of Dreamland explodes in this manner.
- Circling Birdies: The bear boss of Springfield Butte has birds fly over its head before turning back into one of the fat henchmen.
- Combination Attack: Any two family members can do a combination attack if they idle next to each other long enough. There are four types - Homer and Marge hold each other's ankles and quickly roll around the screen, Bart and Lisa link arms and wail to defeat foes (wider range but less speed than their parents' attacks), Homer lifts Bart or Lisa on his shoulders to attack from up there for extra damage, and Marge picks up either kid to throw them across the screen. They can also team up to use very heavy objects for an attack, such as picking up and throwing a police car.
- Comedic Underwear Exposure: After the first boss attacks (usually after striking every Player Character), he'll make some kind of garbled, guttural moaning sound and his pants will drop, revealing pink sparkly briefs.
- Complexity Addiction: Mr. Burns steals a gem he could likely just buy with ease; abducts Maggie rather than just take the gem back from her; and likely spends far more than the gem's worth on all those Mooks, weapons, etc., to try and stop the Simpsons from coming for her.
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: Not the characters themselves, but the status displays of each player are uniquely colored depending on the character.
- Marge - Red.
- Homer - Blue.
- Bart - Green.
- Lisa - Orange.
- In the Japanese 4-Player version, the colors of Bart and Lisa's status displays are switched.
- In the 2-Player version, player 1's character select cursor is red while player 2's is blue.
- Creator Provincialism: The only reason why those ninjas and that kabuki warrior appear in the penultimate stage of the game, being programmed by Konami, a Japanese developer, and the fact the game was programmed when the series wasn't dubbed yet to Japanese until a year later.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Burns is the richest man in Springfield. Can't he just buy that diamond?
- Difficulty by Region: The Japanese version is a bit easier than the American release. For instance, it adds nuclear bombs that instantly KO all on-screen mooks, more weapons and food throughout the whole game, the ability to jump while carrying items, a slingshot that kills all enemies in one hit, the ability to have more than 100% health by eating more food when your health bar is full, and a free health refill when you finish a level.
- The Dragon: Smithers kidnaps Maggie on Mr. Burns' orders and is the last boss fought in the game prior to the final battle against Mr. Burns.
- Dream Land: Stage 6 - Dreamland.
- Dual Boss: The two thugs you encounter throughout the first three stages of the game. They can do a Combination Attack just like player characters.
- Early-Bird Boss: The wrestler is surprisingly difficult for a first level boss.
- Early Installment Weirdness: For the franchise as a whole, though in all fairness the cartoon was still in its infancy (the show was only in its second season when this was released), so it's understandable that many aspects of the game are inconsistent with what has since been established in the cartoon.
- Take for example, Lisa, an extreme vegetarian since the season seven episode "Lisa the Vegetarian", exclaiming, All right! as she devours a health-regenerating Krusty Burger.
- One of the most infamous examples, Sideshow Bob cameos in the Springfield Butte, but since he'd only had one appearance beforehand, he doesn't speak or even attack the Simpsons.
- The game's bosses all actually appeared in the show, but seeing as the show was only in its second season, most players won't recognize them. Even longtime fans would be hard-pressed to remember what episode the wrestler at the end of Level 1 is from...
- Also, Smithers is black (as he was in the early Simpsons episodes).
- Barney has blond hair and wears a green shirt in the game just like he did during most of the first season.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Zombies appear in the Springfield Discount Cemetery.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: A wrestler, a balloon, goons, a drunk, a bear (or rather a Mook in a bear costume), a giant bowling ball, a Kabuki Master... And those are just the bosses.
- Explosive Stupidity: How Smithers is defeated. Upon having his health knocked to zero, he stands up, unfurls his cape and does an Evil Laugh only to realise seconds too late — complete with loud high-pitched scream — that all the cherry bombs he had stashed in said cape have been accidentally lit.
- Father's Quest: This is the main plot, in which Mr. Burns and Smithers kidnap Maggie and all the family goes after her. Although you also can choose Marge, Bart or Lisa, this trope goes straight if you choose Homer as your character.
- Flash of Pain: Most bosses blink red after they take enough damage. The faster they blink, the closer they are to going down for good.
- Funny Background Event:
- When you pass by the Noiseland Video Arcade in the first scene, it has a sign in the window advertising... this game.
- Occasionally, if a player dies, when they fly in to respawn, they can smack face-first into a wall.
- At certain points, you can get a piece of fruit to fall from a tree by hitting the trunk. Keep hitting it, and eventually Bongo the rabbit (a character from Matt Groening's comic strip Life in Hell) will pop out of the branches holding a sign: "All gone! Beat it!"
- Game Gourmet: Weaponized foods (drinks) aside, you can restore your life with apples, oranges, corn, burgers, donuts, roast chickens, hot dogs, and pies. Some items are obtainable from fruit trees or NPCs, while others are simply strewn about.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: While Marge has a vacuum cleaner, Bart has his skateboard, and Lisa uses her jump rope, Homer decides to let his fists (and feet and flying cross body dives) do the talking.
- Gratuitous Ninja: The last part of the Channel 6 level has you fighting ninjas on a Japanese-themed film set.
- The Heavy: Smithers makes several more appearances than Mr. Burns himself, though he's not actually the final boss of the game.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In his appearance as the second-to-last boss of the game, Smithers is defeated by having all the bombs he had hidden in his cape to throw at you be all accidentally lit and detonated at once; blowing himself up and leaving him lying on the floor dazed and covered in ash.
- Hope Spot: In the fifth level, Smithers stops over near Springfield Butte for a little rest only to be chased by a bear, throwing Maggie into, oddly convenient, floatie, only seconds before the family arrive from Moe's secret elevator. After going through the level and beating the boss, the family spot Maggie floating past and jump in to grab her... only for Smithers to show up in a helicopter and nab her once again. If that wasn't bad enough, the stream leads right into a waterfall.
- Humiliation Conga: Mr. Burns. All his presumably hired mooks and bosses were defeated, his presumably-very expensive battle machine was destroyed, he didn't get the diamond he had sent Smithers out to steal in the first place, and right after losing, he gets a baby pacifier stuck in his mouth as the icing on the cake. All in all? Really not a good day to be Mr. Burns.
- Humongous Mecha: In his role as the Final Boss, Mr. Burns attacks the Simpsons in a giant plutonium-powered mecha suit. It's equipped with multiple backup forms of movement (legs, then tank treads, and finally a hovercraft mechanism) and various weapons — including extendable punching fists, stabbing claws, missiles, shoulder-mounted laser guns, and even miniature nuclear bombs.
- Idle Animation: Each character has some reaction to the player doing nothing for too long; for example, Homer lets out a yawn, while Bart looks at the camera and says, "Who the hell are you?"
- Improbable Weapon User: Marge uses a vacuum, Bart uses his skateboard, and Lisa uses a jumprope.
- Improvised Weapon: Marge's vacuum and Bart's skateboard count, since they're the respective default weapons (but aren't typically designed for fighting). Grabbing a hammer or a slingshot is the reverse, but many of the other things you can pick up and throw at enemies are this trope.
- Inevitable Waterfall: At the end of Stage 5, Springfield Butte. The Simpsons plummet to the bottom and are knocked unconscious, setting the scene for Stage 6: Dreamland.
- Kabuki Sounds: Fittingly the boss battle against the Kabuki Master has these in the music. He also lets out one final "Yooo~oh" upon defeat.
- Last Ditch Move: Dreamland's bowling ball boss explodes into a flurry of smaller balls upon being defeated. It's completely unavoidable. In an easier variant, Smithers' final barrage of bombs is easy to avoid.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When hit by certain attacks, the Simpsons are smashed into the screen.
- Logo Joke: The Konami logo appears on the Simpsons TV while they sit on the couch.
- Mad Bomber:
- Mr. Smithers throws Cartoon Bombs around the arena when you fight him.
- Also Mr. Burns, considering his death machine drops miniaturised nuclear warheads that deal a ton of damage. When at low health, he can even spam multiple nukes at once.
- The boss of Stage 2 sometimes places balloons in the air that drop off bombs.
- Made of Iron: The only harm a large fall from the top of a waterfall does is knock the Simpsons unconscious and provide the set-up for the Dreamland stage.
- Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Parody: In Stage 3, when a batch of zombies rise from the ground they briefly perform the Thriller dance.
- Mini-Mecha: The Final Boss, Mr. Burns piloting a Plutonium-powered mech suit armed with an assortment of weapons and with a variety of different redundant mobility forms (legs, tank tracks, and a hovercraft mechanism).
- Oddball in the Series: This is the only game of the franchise that was not developed by a Western studio, and it shows sometimes.
- One-Hit Point Wonder: Hilariously, Mr. Burns goes down with any attack after his mech is destroyed. You can also opt to just wait and he'll fall over anyway.
- One-Man Army: Or woman, if you prefer. Even the demure Marge and Lisa can and will take on literal armies of Mr. Burns and Smithers' goons for Maggie's sake.
- The Other Darrin: Harry Shearer didn't lend his voice to this game, so Smithers and Mr. Burns have noticeably different voices.
- Pinball Scoring: Averted in the American version, but played straight in the Japanese version, which adds 2 extra zeroes to the end of your score (so 1 US point = 100 Japanese points).
- Power-Up Food: Occasionally, characters like Sheri and Teri, Millhouse, or Sideshow Bob show up with things like chicken, hamburgers or the like that refill your Life Meter. Also, hitting a tree can sometimes cause an apple to fall that does the same thing. You even get special responses when you grab them:
- Marge: Whoo! Look out, World!
Homer: Heh heh heh heh heh!
Bart: Alright, let's go for it, man!
Lisa: All right!
- Regional Bonus: Besides the difficulty changes listed above, the Japanese version (released several months after the American version) has a more sophisticated scoring system and adds more characters to the game's ending.
- Rock Beats Laser: Mr. Burns has a mech suit equipped with extending fists, claws, missiles, lasers, and bombs. Marge has a vacuum cleaner, Homer has his fists, Bart has a skateboard, and Lisa has a jump rope. Guess which side ends up winning.
- Sequential Boss: The Nuclear Plant stage consists of two boss fights in a row: Mr. Smithers and Mr. Burns, the latter having multiple stages before defeat.
- Slap Yourself Awake: A mini-game consists of the player slapping their character's face to make them regain consciousness, following the Inevitable Waterfall.
- Smashing Survival: When your character gets grabbed by one of the mooks, the game says "Wiggle Joystick! Push Buttons!" which is required to break free. Or one of your teammates can save you.
- The Fat Mooks can grab and choke any of the family members, which causes your character to take on an expression similar to Bart's when he's being choked by Homer. Which is humorously ironic if you're playing as Homer...
- Moe's Tavern features appearances of Aliens cabinets, also a Konami arcade game based on a Fox license.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Surprisingly averted, given the era it came out. Bart is no more or less important or prominent than the rest of the Simpson family in the game itself or its advertising.
- Stalked by the Bell: Take too long to hustle when there's no enemies around and a hand will appear pointing to the right with a message reading "HURRY UP". Fail to heed its command and the hand will float over to the offending player and flick them for a chunk of their health.
- Stock Sound Effects: Bosses recycle several sound/voice clips. The bowling ball makes the same groan as the wrestler and the bear's early roars, and Mr. Burns says the same "Where do ya think YOU'RE goin'?" as the two suited men in stage 3.
- Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Sure, Mr. Burns's machine hits hard, but you can take it down with about as many punches/kicks/makeshift weapon strikes as you would a regular fleshy boss. In a variation however, Burns's machine has multiple forms; as evidenced by it going from legs to treads to a hovercraft skirt as each previous form of mobility is destroyed, then eventually its armour plating starts to break apart.
- Also inverted, as after you completely destroy Burns's machine, Burns himself only takes one hit to finish off.
- Straw Nihilist: Lisa's quote in the intro is "embrace nothingness" (which doesn't make sense, especially long before she became a Buddhist).
- Tank-Tread Mecha: Mr. Burns' robot suit extends tank treads as a second form after the first bipedal form receives too much damage. After those break, it becomes a hovercraft skirt instead.
- Theme Naming: Just like the city itself, "Springfield" pops up in the stage names of most of the stages.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Homer's fighting style can degrade to wild flailing. That said, he's strong enough to not need a weapon.
- Visual Pun: When you defeat Smithers in the Japanese version, he drops a bunch of healing fruit. This could also be seen as Hilarious in Hindsight, as the running joke about Smithers' homosexuality had yet to be developed in the show itself.
- Whip It Good: Lisa's jump rope serves as her weapon.
- Wingding Eyes:
- Happens when one player dies with zero lives; the controlled Simpson's eyes become X's.
- Mr. Burns' eyes become crosses after Maggie sticks her pacifier in his mouth.
- Would Hurt a Child: Mr. Burns, Smithers along with the rest of the enemies have no issues with attacking and hurting Bart and Lisa, as well as physically grabbing and kidnapping Maggie.