The Simpsons Road Rage
A game can be great because of gameplay. A game can be great because of graphics, especially in this day and age of newfangled gaming technology. A game can be great because the music is so beautiful or catchy that it lingers in your immediate thoughts the whole day long. But when a game like this has so much to go off of, including thirteen seasons of material and several other pieces of paraphernalia, you find yourself thinking it’s great because of its subtleties, and this is the greatest greatness of all.
The Simpson family’s latest game is a Crazy Taxi clone, registering under the subtitle Road Rage. The similarities between the two are myriad: you run people to distinct locales around the fair city of Springfield and occasionally go on missions with set purposes and characters. The point behind all this? Mr. Burns has instated a new transit system of atomic buses that drive insanely fast and terrible. This taxi system among the residents is a way of boycotting Mr. Burns’s new system. Along the mad highway romp, you’ll unlock new regions of Springfield and new vehicles, all of which have their own special ways in terms of both drivers and the vehicles themselves.
While the graphics are nothing to wave a stick at during cutscenes, the driving portion of the game moves smoothly at a constant framerate. The controls are as in a real speeding car, very demanding and requiring force to do as you wish them to. What is most astounding, however, is the sound. Music has been transferred flawlessly to the GameCube’s miniature disc, but you won’t be listening to any music – it’s barely noticeable inside the action. What’s really going to floor a true Simpsons fan is the voice samples. Some lines have been implanted directly from the show, such as Ralph’s classic ”I bent my Wookiee” and Dr. Nick’s over-the-top cheery ”Hi, everybody!” Others come in as variations on the originals, such as Marge singing a snippet of the Canyonero song or the Comic Book Guy saying ”Worst – ride – ever” after a less-than-adequate ride. Even signs with funny captions are in the game, and all locales (the She-She Lounge, NoiseLand Arcade, King Toot’s Music Store) and vehicles (Snake’s Li’l Bandit, Rev. Lovejoy’s Book Burning Mobile, Martin’s soapbox racer/rocket car the Honor Roller) will be familiar to the true Simpsons aficionado. Anyone engrossed in Simpson lore will love this game regardless of its gameplay, because they’ll be entirely too busy quoting lines from the show and laughing their butts off as they ferry people around the town.
Still, others won’t be attracted to this Crazy Taxi with a Simpsons mask on. The game’s plot is, after all, directly taken from that, and the fans of that game won’t like this too much if they aren’t steeped in Simpson trivia. Me being a big-time fan of the cartoon and all, I have to give top marks to this game. I like the way the show appears in every facet of play, and enjoying the game’s music and control scheme certainly helps give my bias a boost.
To rent or to buy? You may stew over this choice a while. A rental will be needed if you have to test its capabilities as a bona fide driving game, but if you like the game after a few days of familiarization or are wishing to purchase it on the basis of being a Simpsons game (admittedly a better idea now than in the days of the NES and Genesis), you won’t find $50 worth of Simpson stuff that will please you for this long. For any fan of reckless driving or the show, the investment is certainly wise.