The Simpsons Arcade for the iPhone is, simply put, a total blast. This isn’t the full arcade cabinet title, but rather a compact version. But if you’re a fan of the Simpsons’ deep character set, much of the joy of Simpsons Arcade comes through the appearance of characters like Krusty the Clown or minor characters like McBain (aka, Rainier Wolfcastle). And to top it off, it’s a good fighting sidescroller.
The graphics of The Simpsons Arcade look spectacular on the iPhone. It may be that the soft lines of cartoon drawings translate well on to the iPhone’s screen, but the graphics are vivid and beautiful—it’s just like watching the show on a good LCD TV set.
Because the game is a remake of the arcade-cabinet version, the controls unfortunately feature a simulated joystick and buttons. But the good news is that they are mostly frustration free, as the game compensates in lowering the difficulty a bit. There is at least one special attack move that involves some trickery with the buttons, but I soon mastered it and feel most players will be able to too.
The developers threw some iPhone-specific control elements into the game as well. There’s a special power for Homer where Lisa bops him on the head and sends his arms spinning around, and you must tilt the iPhone to control Homer and knock over the enemies. Also, when Homer loses a life, you must slap his face back and forth with your finger to get him back into the game.
The sound effects and music are authentic, featuring the real voice actors from the TV show. There’s not a lot speech, just the occasional sound effect, like a “WooHoo” from Homer or an evil chuckle from Krusty. But the combination of the excellent graphics with authentic sounds creates a genuine Simpsons experience.
The game features 6 settings to fight your way through, including downtown Springfield, Channel 6 News (featuring Kent Brockman!), and Krusty Land. It’s a mid-size game that took me about 3 hours to finish. Most of the basic fighting was easy enough, but the boss fights can be challenging until you figure out a method to do damage.
One thing we didn’t like was that the game lacks a way to save the exact moment you leave the game. Instead, you start over at the beginning of whichever of the 6 game environments you last progressed to. It’s not the most mobile-friendly game. We suggest you give yourself at least a half hour to complete each level, lest you lose all progress.
Homer is the only character available to play, but Marge, Maggie, Lisa, and Bart make appearances via special power-ups that help Homer defeat his enemies. Adding more characters would have increased replay value, but Homer is a great choice if we must focus on one.
The Simpsons Arcade ($0.99) is a fun trip through Springfield and a solid fighting game to boot. But what really pushes the game into the “must-have iPhone game” territory is the genuine Simpson’ experience. We rate the Simpsons Arcade an 8.9 out of 10, highly recommended.