1. gbatemp_recommends_the_simpsons_hit_and_run.jpg

    The year is 2003. Grand Theft Auto III released only two years ago, and still is making waves within the video game industry. Canadian studio Radical Entertainment has just ended development on a sports video game for the GameCube, using the Disney's Monsters, Inc. license. The classic prime time television cartoon series The Simpsons is currently airing their 15th season, and is still wildly popular. In a matter of mere months, all these factors will combine, leading to one of the most beloved licensed video games of all time.

    Radical


    The Simpsons: Hit & Run released in September 2003, making itself out to be a parody-slash-clone of the open-world, car-focused formula of GTA III, mixed with some early 2000's era platforming, and featuring The Simpsons label slapped on it. The game could have easily been a simple cash-grab, much like how The Simpsons: Skateboarding was just an awful clone of Tony Hawk: Pro Skater, designed purely with intentions of raking in easy money, or how The Simpsons: Wrestling was...a game, sort of, that people definitely paid real money for, at the time.

    69840-the-simpsons-hit-run-gamecube-screenshot-title-screen.png

    But developer Radical Entertainment wanted to make something more than just a clone. Of course, they previously had attempted to take a game and give it a Simpson's flair in the past, with The Simpsons: Road Rage--liberally borrowing ideas from Crazy Taxi--which resulted in a game so similar to the latter, that SEGA filed a lawsuit over copyright infringement. This time around, they planned on using modern gaming trends to their advantage, while still making a game that stood on its own merits.

    At the time, The Simpsons: Hit & Run was seen as a pretty decent game, getting, for the most part, positive reviews and praise. With a multiplatform release on the GameCube, XBox, PlayStation 2, and PC, millions got to experience Hit & Run during the heyday of the sixth console generation. Now, years since its original release, fans have been clamoring for a return to this classic game. Was it truly as amazing as our memories seem to recall, or is this just another nostalgia-hazed desire for something familiar and comfortable from long ago?

    Cowabunga


    In 2003, I was only just allowed to watch The Simpsons on old VHS that my parents had of the series. My overprotective mother had once told me that I'd have to be Lisa Simpson's age (8), in order to watch the show, without it possibly corrupting my morals, or turning me into some nefarious member of society, I suppose. That never stopped me from hiding behind the couch to sneak a few minutes of the show before quietly tiptoeing back upstairs, unnoticed, and totally awake past my bedtime. It wasn't long before I got caught, and my parents gave up and let me watch the show, where it quickly became one of my favorites. So, at age 7, my uncle, someone who loves rebellion and loves The Simpsons even moreso, brought me a gift one day: a brand new copy of The Simpsons: Hit & Run for my PlayStation 2.

    It took all of 10 minutes, not counting the PS2's atrocious load times, to fall in love with the game. Buried in what feels like a GTA clone at first glance is a true love letter to The Simpsons; adoration for the series in its purest form.

    69848-the-simpsons-hit-run-gamecube-screenshot-shortcuts-usually.png

    The Simpsons Hit & Run kicks off with you playing as Homer, who absolutely, positively needs some Buzz Cola. Mmmm, cola. Buzz Cola... drools. Along the way, a weird plot begins to unravel, as you play as members of the Simpsons family (and Apu) throughout various locations in Springfield.

    As this is a Grand Theft Auto clone, you can walk across Springfield on foot, or you can drive in style. You only start out with one vehicle--Homer's--at the start of the game, but as you progress, you'll unlock dozens of cars, all taking from years of Simpsons history. Want to drive Barney's Plow King truck? Otto's school bus? The Car Built for Homer? A life-sized version of the Malibu Stacy car? Snake's beloved car, Bandit? What about a random piece of the Monorail, from that one episode in Season 4 Episode 12? Yes. Yes, you can, and yes there's even more to choose from. If it was onscreen within the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons, it's almost certain that the developers threw it in, either as an actual unlockable, or a secret gag vehicle for dedicated players to find.

    Don't have a cow, man


    There are plenty of things to do and discover on foot, but a majority of your time will be spent from the driver's seat, either racing other citizens of Springfield, playing demolition derby to try to destroy your opponent's car, or trying to collect items littered within the area before time runs out. It's here where the fun is, in enjoying the lovingly-recreated city, laughing at gags and jokes, and discovering each and every throwback and reference to the show.

    69845-the-simpsons-hit-run-gamecube-screenshot-talk-to-apu.png

    Where this game doesn't actually take from Grand Theft Auto is the fact that this isn't an open-world game. It wants you to believe it is, and the developers managed to pull it off as an illusion of an open-world in a tricky way, but each of the locations within the game are race tracks, all of which eventually connect in a perfect loop. The levels are all well-designed, letting you get out and find tons of secrets in places your car couldn't normally access, while still being fun to drive through at high speeds, with plenty of shortcuts to find while rolling around town.

    It is absolutely obscene just how many small details were packed into this game. Each level has a set amount of collectibles, ranging from cards, new vehicles, costumes, and gags that you can find, with the menu keeping track of your progress. All of them are classic throwbacks to different Simpsons episodes. Sometimes just standing around admiring the scenery will reward you with a funny joke that you might have otherwise missed. You'll need to be a fan to appreciate every minute detail, but for those that are, it's hard not to love just how much care went into making this game.

    These elements are great, certainly, but what makes this game really special is that every voice actor from the show reprises their roles here, with dialogue written by the same writers from the cartoon, and some hilarious lines improvised and thrown in by the veteran voice cast. To this day, certain mundane things will trigger quotes from the game to the forefront of my mind, usually resulting in an honest to goodness random laugh out loud. Some of my personal favorites are lines yelled out when you accidentally crash into a random NPC. As they go cartoonishly careening into the distance after being hit at a ridiculous amount of miles per hour, Homer will yell out "I have no insurance!", "Okay, that's a lawsuit", or "Please don't sue!". It never fails to make me laugh.

    69852-the-simpsons-hit-run-gamecube-screenshot-approaching-the-power.png

    Mmmmm...repetitiveness...


    As mentioned before, you'll be progressing the game through various story missions along the way. For the first level, these missions are mostly a tutorial, showing you the ropes, letting you get a feel for things, before introducing you to a brand new location. There are seven levels in total, though most of them are just palette-swapped "evening" or "nighttime" versions of previous stages, with slight changes. You won't really notice this until the fourth level of the game, but once you start to feel like things are getting a little stale, the game begins to rapidly deteriorate. It's clear that the developers used up most of their time and effort on the earlier stages, and the latter half of the game is there purely to pad the story out, culminating in more and more frustrating missions.

    Had the game ended after the fourth level, I would have considered The Simpsons Hit & Run to be short, yet sweet. Instead, you're forced into some of the most ridiculously needlessly difficult missions in a video game that I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Time limits that were once slightly challenging become insane speedrun requirements, dooming you to failure if you even make a single mistake. The game's final mission is one that will forever haunt me, plaguing me for years after the fact; still to this day do I dream of radioactive barrels falling off the back of my car for no explained reason. Considering the glorious first few levels, these later levels feel tacked on and completely and entirely unnecessary.

    69854-the-simpsons-hit-run-gamecube-screenshot-bart-starts-off-with.png

    That being said, despite the flaws in the latter half, the game still holds up remarkably well, and truly deserves the praise that has surrounded it for over a decade...just so long as you pretend the game ends earlier than it actually does. Because if you're a Simpsons fan, those first few hours are spectacular, and are an honest joy to play. If, for some unknown reason, you love The Simpsons, yet haven't yet tried this game, I implore you to give it a try.

    I hope you enjoyed this edition of GBAtemp Recommends. If you'd like to see more, leave your feedback in the thread below or check out our previous articles.



    TAGS: The Simpsons: Hit & Run
     
  2. Discussion (33 replies)

  3. Reploid

    Reploid GBAtemp Advanced Maniac
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    I think one should've played what it was new. I tried it a few years ago and dropped fairly quickly, even tho I'm supposed to be a fan.
     
    NoNAND likes this.
  4. Lostbhoy

    Lostbhoy GBAtemp Regular
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    Totally loved this game and your review was spot on in every way! My kids now love playing it too and my son calls it grand theft simpsons!
     
    Chary likes this.
  5. RyRyIV

    RyRyIV S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team
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    I have very fond memories of this game. Babies first GTA, I often called it after graduating to GTA IV later in life. Very accurate and well written analysis!
     
    Chary likes this.
  6. morvoran

    morvoran Trumpican
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    Wow, I'm sure I know for a fact that there are thousands of "not complete crap" games out there to recommend over this smelly pile of you know what. What will the next recommended game be? Raid 2020 or Lester the Unlikely? How about Action 52 or Cheetahmen 2?
     
    Last edited by morvoran, Mar 20, 2020
  7. VinsCool

    VinsCool Cattus Incerta Tacitusque
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    Ah man, I loved playing GTA Simpsons back in the day :D
     
    Sterophonick and x65943 like this.
  8. swabbo
    This message by swabbo has been removed from public view by Chary, Mar 20, 2020, Reason: bickering.
    Mar 20, 2020 Show
  9. morvoran
    This message by morvoran has been removed from public view by Chary, Mar 20, 2020, Reason: bickering.
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  10. GolfDude

    GolfDude GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    someone made a youtube video about this game's history and how its soo broken in some areas b/c they were forced to release the game by X date by FOX, and they wouldnt allow any more time.. lots of planned ideas were scrapped partway and left in the game due to time... they also had plans for a full sequel to the game but the company involved went out of businesss..
     
  11. AlexMCS

    AlexMCS GBAtemp Regular
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    Yeah, I really liked this.
    I still remember Ralph counting down "5, 5, 5, 4!" on a mission.
    Hilarious.
     
  12. |<roni&g

    |<roni&g GBAtemp Fan
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    Got a save on this I started last year, gets hard at the Apu missions
     
  13. XDel

    XDel Author of Alien Breed: Projekt Odamex
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    Great game, but needed more platforming in the factory in such. The PC MOD community is amazing!
     
    SuzieJoeBob likes this.
  14. relauby

    relauby Contributor
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    This is one of those games I have really fond memories of from childhood, and I've almost been scared to go back to it in case it's terrible and would ruin my memories of it (probably a safe bet considering it's a licensed game). Given your recommendation though, I feel a lot more comfortable going back to give it another shot.
     
    Chary and VinsCool like this.
  15. XAIXER

    XAIXER Kaiser Supremissimus
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    A childhood classic! One of the best things is smashing the car, driving a burnt out metal frame and using AR codes to fly when you honk the horn. Quite a fun game to mess around with. Also, the PC version has mods including Steamed Hams.
     
    relauby and Chary like this.
  16. Sheimi

    Sheimi A cute Vixen!
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    Always used to play this as a kid. Using the in-game cheat codes after I 100% it. I should replay it again.
     
    Chary likes this.
  17. focusinframe

    focusinframe Newbie
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    Haha, yes! I used to love this game so much as a kid.
     
    Chary likes this.
  18. PROTOBOY

    PROTOBOY GBAtemp Regular
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    I play on my pc a few years ago.

    Hope Microsoft will re-lease 4k version for Xbox One X/Series X...
     
  19. fvig2001

    fvig2001 GBAtemp Regular
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    Played this a lot before. This game needs relaxed timers and widescreen support. I think it's still kind of solid in ways.
     
  20. raxadian

    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac
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    I played the game when it was new but I think it only works if you like the Simpsons.
     
  21. Nightflash

    Nightflash Member
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    I was never allowed to watch the Simpsons even after I turned 10 years old, my parents just told me that was utter crap.
    Around 2006 I saw this gem (for Gamecube) on a local market for just a few euros and bought it just for fun. It turned out to be one of my most beloved games of all time, man was it fun! The voiceover, the way too difficult missions and of course the feeling of driving around in an open world just to smash stuff and find hidden collectibles! (of course I was never allowed to have GTA until I was 18, so an open world was completely new)
     
  22. Shadowfied

    Shadowfied GBAtemp Addict
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    Absolutely LEGENDARY game. It still holds up and it's still a blast.
     
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