As much as I like The Simpsons, I’ll be the first to admit that not all of its games are fantastic. Some are merely good. So, in light of this revelation I’ve decided to jot down my five favorite Simpsons' videogames.
5. Dash Dingo
“Find and devour the seven crystal babies, or spend eternity trapped in deep didgeridoo.” Who would have guessed from that simple setup that Dash Dingo would send the player on a globetrotting adventure, from the deep outback of Australia, all the way to scenic Canberra?
Players guided the titular Dash across seven worlds, slaying enemies and gathering power-ups in their quest. I still remember the moment I found the anti-gravity lozenge, and the ninja-koalas that had been accosting me throughout the first part of the game finally got what was coming to them. Such moments made Dash Dingo a supremely fun romp on the original PlayStation.
In the wake of Mortal Kombat a sea of violent action games such as Bloodstorm, Bonesquad, and Bloodstorm II were released; but none were as violent and reprehensible as Bonestorm. Despite costing up to - and including - $70 and distraction from schoolwork, Bonestorm became the hit toy of the 1995 holiday season, second only to the Cup ‘n’ Ball.
Bonestorm eschews the digitised look of Mortal Kombat and Bonesquad in favor of full on sprites, which is for the better. The stunning visuals and outrageous character design simply wouldn’t have been possible in another format. The colourful backgrounds, detailed environments and crisp animations make this game worth revisiting over two decades later, even if the gameplay comes off as somewhat shallow compared to titans of the genre like Streetfighter II or Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire.
It’s easy to write Super Slugfest off as a Punch Out!! clone, but that would be doing a disservice to the meat of the experience: the excellent two-player mode. Friends can gather around the console and duke it out. Punches land hard, and successfully ducking and counterattacking is satisfying in a way that few boxing games are. And the large sprites are incredibly detailed. Little touches like the way the character’s eyes bug out when they’re hit give the boxers some much-appreciated personality.
One little-known aspect of this game is that if the player had a Super Game Boy and a Game Boy camera, they could actually import a picture of their face and build a character based off of it. It was a ridiculous idea for the time, and rarely taken advantage of due to the multiple peripherals required, but the technology worked remarkably well.
2. Lee Carvello’s Putting Challenge
Lee Carvello’s Putting Challenge is the spiritual successor to 1988’s Lee Travino’s Fighting Golf. The developers, having lost the lucrative Travino name, decided to make a golf game with an emphasis on the short game. Whereas contemporaries such as Sega World Tournament Golf, and Chi Chi’s Pro Challenge Golf aimed to be jack of all trades with equal emphasis on driving and putting, in Lee Carvello’s, putting is the name of the game, literally. Carefully examined slopes, and strategic use of the wedges are the meat and potatoes of this Putting Challenge.
Despite the game being a self proclaimed “putting challenge” you could drive the ball straight into the parking lot if you so desired. The sheer variety of swing types outpace any other golf game of the era, although, in practice you rarely needed to utilise all of them. Everything from “Feather Touch” to “POWER DRIVE!” was present and accounted for. Combine this with some high-quality digitised voice samples, and you had a game just under par compared to the competition.
1. My Dinner with Andre: The Videogame
In recent years games like Her Story, Gone Home, and Firewatch have introduced a slower, more introspective style of play, and despite featuring different mechanics the one thing that all these games have in common is that they owe a tremendous amount to the cult classic My Dinner with Andre: The Videogame.
Over the course of the short hour and 51-minute playtime, the player would progress through a conversation with the titular Andre. There were only three options to choose from, but despite the game’s streamlined design, the three options of Tell Me More, Trenchant Insight, and Bon Mot yielded dozens of potentially different conversations with Andre. Of course, after a couple of playthroughs you begin to see where the dialogue interlocks and repeats, but that first playthrough was transcendent. It’s no wonder that My Dinner with Andre: The Videogame captured the hearts of so many contemporary game designers.