For the past 30 years, The Simpsons has excited television audiences with hilarious humour, memorable characters and enjoyable storylines. It’s also spawned a lot of terrible video games. However, The PlayStation 2 games were arguably the most consistent generation of the series’ gaming ventures (excluding THAT one), so today I rank them from the peak of the series to… THAT one. There are four games on the PS2 which I’ll rank from worst to best.
4. The Simpsons Skateboarding
Yeah, THIS one. While the PS2 was home to some of the The Simpsons’ most notable gaming antics, it’s also home to one of the biggest trainwrecks associated with the powerhouse franchise. The Simpsons Skateboarding was EA’s attempt to cash in on the success of the Tony Hawk games, and holy hell it did it flip trick into oblivion. The biggest issue is the controls, which is a deal breaker in a game genre that NEEDS intuitive controls to be fun. Steering feels extremely clunky, grinding is a mess that either requires zero control or flies off the scale before you can even respond, some characters can’t even hit a flip trick on land because their jump stat is too low by default, the controls won’t even register your input sometimes… I could go on and on.
Even if the controls were good, everything else assures it remains hot trash. The level design is appalling and has no flow, the missions are uninspired and repetitive and, perhaps the biggest offender, the slick theme song has been butchered and turned into a reggae rap song; because that just screams The Simpsons and/or skating culture, right? The novelty of skating in Simpsons locations can carry the game for a while for some players (including my idiotic, probably brain damaged 7 year old self), but overall it’s a travesty to The Simpsons license and an embarrassment to my childhood.
3. The Simpsons Road Rage
Road Rage is to Crazy Taxi what hot tr- Skateboarding is to Tony Hawk. Unlike the trash that shall not be named, Road Rage actually rips off Crazy Taxi pretty well. The frantic gameplay is enjoyable, the levels are simple but fun, the gameplay is average but surprisingly addicting, and it retains the classic Simpsons charm through its amusing character quips and visual gags. That said, it’s overall just a solid game at best, and while Simpsons fans will get a decent amount of enjoyment from it, it’s not a “must play.”
2. The Simpsons Game
Often overlooked due to it releasing in the transitional period between the PS2 and PS3 generations, The Simpsons Game is a fun foray into 3D platforming that ramps The Simpsons’ satirical elements up to provide an amusing spin on the series’ comedic formula. Grand Theft Auto, Frogger and Call of Duty are just a handful of games that are parodied throughout the game and to a very funny effect. The game even features over 30 minutes of new Simpsons animation, which was a notable selling point at the time and something that certainly adds to the experience despite being occasionally jarring. While The Simpsons Game doesn’t do anything special, it’s a fun take on the genre that will amuse both Simpsons and video game enthusiasts alike.
1. The Simpsons: Hit & Run
I mean what did you think would be ranked the best? Hit & Run is universally praised as the best Simpsons game and rightfully so. While the game doesn’t break the streak of the games being shameless ripoffs of others, Hit & Run pulls off the Grand Theft Auto formula so well that no one cares. The game oozes charm and charisma, with every inch of its seven open worlds and every line of dialogue being used to provide hilarious jokes that immerse you in The Simpsons universe. Moreover, the game has a crazy, over the top story that is consistently amusing as well as surprisingly intriguing in parts – seeing the bizarre conspiracy unfold is never boring.
The game does fall flat in the missions department because so many of the missions are repeats and/or tedious fetch quests, and as such the game isn’t flawless, but the rest of the game is so on point that the generic design rarely amounts to anything more than a few minutes of frustration (or few hours in regards to the final mission… 7 year old me learned the art of controller hurling when he first played that). The story mode is fun, the writing is superb and, most importantly, the game is a pure joy to play, hence why it’s the best PS2 Simpsons game and an overall standout PS2 title period.
What are your thoughts on the PS2 Simpsons games, and how would you rank them? Do you agree The Simpsons Skateboarding is an abomination to mankind, or has some kind of horrible trauma in your past allowed you to see a good side to the game that many can’t? Let me know all this and more in the comments or via my Twitter profile @JoshBSocial.