The Simpsons Road Rage
The Simpsons. Like them or not, you’ve got to love them. It’s just that simple. I mean seriously, who can’t appreciate the dysfunctional Flintstones? Since the dawn of the Simpsons, in a time when the world was still in darkness, they have been popular. So popular in fact that they were featured in numerous video games, only a few of them being good at all. To this day the Simpsons remain powerful with their dysfunctional behavior and funny episodes, so when the good people at Radical Entertainment were given the green-light by Fox to make a new game featuring the Simpson, it was time to brainstorm up ideas.
The game actually has a somewhat decent story. It seems that dastardly Mr. Burns is trying to get himself richer, at the expense of the town of Springfield’s citizens no less. Mr. Burns bought all the buses in town and loaded them up with plutonium and upping the fares. What are the citizens of Springfield to do? Start a taxi service and raise up enough cash to buy back the busses!
Remember that game that was in arcades a few years back? That game that was on the Dreamcast when it launched? The one that was ported to all the super-systems when Sega went out of the hardware business? Oh yeah, it was called Crazy Taxi. It was a popular game and nothing could beat it. It was as revolutionary as Mario Kart for SNES was back in the day. Oh how so many developers made half-assed kart racers after that…
What does all this have to do with the Simpsons? Well, The Simpsons Road Rage is basically Crazy Taxi staring Simpsons characters. The cast is all the stars from the show, including the Simpson family, Reverend Lovejoy and Moe the Bartender. You choose one of 6 unlocked characters from the show and you then cruise through one of six areas of Springfield, picking up people who need a ride and taking them to Simpson’s landmarks.
The areas themselves are pretty good. Springfield is bustling with life and everyone needs to go somewhere. Stops include the Aztec Theater, Kamp Krusty and the Android’s Dungeon. The city is divided up into 6 districts, which must be unlocked through completing goals. After you earn money in Road Rage mode, you can unlock either a new district to drive through or a new driver. My favorite driver was the Professor and his flying car.
You can also earn money in the games ”Mission Mode.” In mission mode, you have to stop Mr. Burns’ plot to control Springfield’s transit program which includes destroying advertisements for Burns’ busses and crashing into Burns’ statues of himself. You can also cruise the town in ”Sunday Drive” mode to get a feel for the area and deliver people at a leisurely pace (though you don’t earn any money).
Sadly, while the game is a clone of Crazy Taxi, the game lacks all the things that made Crazy Taxi addicting and fun. The collision detection is terrible, often I know that I missed cars yet the game still registered it as a hit. I also never felt in any hurry in the game. In Crazy Taxi, people were screaming at me to hurry up and the timer was going off and the narrator was yelling at me as well. While the Road Rage is a timed event, I really didn’t care at all and never really worried about getting there on time.
The game has quite a clever graphics engine. The town and characters are all 3D models, but the vehicles are cell-shaded, which creates an odd look that the game pulls off quite well. Admittedly though, the colors are very basic and there is nothing very memorable. Seeing your favorite landmarks in the video game world is pretty cool, but the game looks very generic. It’s also quite apparent that the game was ported to the Xbox, as it looks very much like a PS2 game.
Ahh, the one part of the game that was original: the sound, specifically the voice-overs. All the Simpsons cast lent their voices to the game, including Nancy Cartwright and Dan Castllaneta. The game characters all talk once inside the cab, which is pretty cool. There are lots of different lines as well, so it doesn’t get very repetitive until you are well into the game. The music is nothing that you even really notice while playing, which is kind of a let down but it establishes the realism of the Simpsons well.
Imagine that you are in the Radical Entertainment boardroom when the first decided to make this game.
Cam Weber (Producer): Hey guys, it’s time to make a new game. Fox has let us use their license for the Simpsons! And we can do whatever we want with it too!
James Ceraldi (Tech. Director): Hey, the other day I was playing Crazy Taxi. Man I love that game. We should make Crazy Taxi.
Weber: What a conundrum…Sega seems to own it…
Glen Schultz (Art Director): I know! I can take the Crazy Taxi game and just put the Simpson’s characters in it and change around the cars and environments a little!
Joel DeYoung (Lead Programmer): And I can program it so it controls differently and tweak the collision detection!
Marc Baril (Sound Director): And I can get all the entire cast to do the voice-overs of there in game counterparts!
Weber: Don’t go over budget.