Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Saturday, 04 February 2012 06:00
The Simpsons Arcade, along with the 6-Player X-Men and Sunset Riders, is where most of my allowance was spent in my childhood. Those games were also responsible for an insane amount of, "Hey Dad, can I borrow a dollar?" I'd be afraid to know how often I really said that. These games came from a time when arcade cabinets could outshine home consoles so well, if there was a port it was notably inferior. These days, arcade games come home with enhanced graphics or added characters, but in the old day you got what you got and you were happy.
A friend heard my sob stories a few years ago and introduced me to MAME. I am a staunch opponent of piracy, but was torn. There was NO PHYSICAL WAY to play these at home. I have both (inadequate) home versions of Sunset Riders, and bought every licensed X-Men or Simpsons game there was, but none of them were my beloved arcade games. Given the resources and space, I would easily buy arcade cabinets for these games. I downloaded them (and only them) with the intent of immediate deletion once I could purchase the title.
X-Men released recently, and on February 3, 2012, I woke up, turned on the PC, deleted the ROM, and purchased Simpsons Arcade on my Xbox for 800 MSP. My Xbox was still disconnected from yesterday's trip, but it didn't matter. I immediately plugged it in, though. The game has been lovingly recreated, and gives the title the respect it deserves. In the smartest arcade port ever, it allows challenge by giving you "quarters mode," limiting you to a stock of lives, so "game over" is still possible. Free Play still exists, as does "Survival" in which you only get one life! I am looking forward to gaming experts' YouTube runs on Survival. Also, the game unlocks stage by stage, letting you start anywhere, but not until you do it proper. Finishing the game is required to unlock the Japanese ROM as well. I know most purchasers are going to hit up free play for nostalgia's sake and blast through in one sitting, but it is still neat that it's there. The obligatory leaderboards and such exist as well.
I could have gotten a straight ROM from Konami and paid 25 cents a shot and been happy with the port, but they gave me more. Had I been in charge, I would have done the art galleries and 3D Arcade cabinet a la Final Fight: Double Impact, and maybe utilized Kinect so I could come as close as possible to glancing over at my fellow Arcadians for high fives and excited "DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!?" moments. There is a shadowed "Cool Stuff" menu option, though, so I can at least hope for some art and such. Regardless, it's a no-brainer purchase for classic arcade lovers, and a smart purchase for anyone who enjoys the Castle Crashers fare. If this game went half price tomorrow, I wouldn't regret the loss: 800 MSP is a steal for this classic piece of gaming history. Now, Konami....can we talk Sunset Riders?? Please??
Check out Ryan's older article "Games Worth Finding an Arcade For", and see why he's so giddy as stuff gets ticked off his list. Maybe a 3DS version of Time Traveler could happen? Only time will tell!