Coming soon to a video console near you: The Simpsons Game! It is being created in partnership with Gracie Films and Twentieth Century Fox and is not based on the upcoming Simpsons movie. Rather, it is an original story from writers who create the TV program and it will feature the entire voice cast from the TV show. Basically, you just need to be prepared to never leave your couch as it seems that its going to be just plain awesome.
Techtree news said:
“Players must use exciting, all new powers to save the world from rising chaos, with Homer, Marge, Bart, Maggie, and Lisa being playable characters. Players will have to make a journey through all of Springfield, battle an array of villains, and fight their way through various parodies of multiple popular video games.”
The game has over 15 levels and each will take the form of an episode of the series, with a unique title animation, setting, and story. Within each episode, players will take control of two family members, or play one of them with a friend in a split-screen two-player mode.
It is scheduled for release at the end of this year for basically everything: PS3, PS2, PSP, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS.
After the jump, read the preview from Yahoo! News. I have just one thing to say: Aye Carumba!
The Simpsons Game Preview: May 10, 2007 from Yahoo! News
Like Bart and Milhouse plotting in the Simpsons family tree house, EA was cooking up a little something-something on May 7, 2007. Outside, hundreds were celebrating a milestone 400th episode of The Simpsons. But inside the Fox Studios cafeteria, guarded by famed bartender Moe Szyslak, The Simpsons Game was being unveiled to a select group of press representatives.
Executive Producer Scot Amos set the scene: “We wanted to stay true to the fans, first and foremost. We wanted to make the ultimate video game for the Simpsons characters.” The first step was crafting a script worthy of the license. To do that, EA enlisted a trio of the show’s writers and producers, Matt Selman, Tim Long, and Matt Warburton.
The three spoke to us about the game’s focus, and earned massive gamer cred. “EA has been great to us,” said Selman. “They’re much better than the other monolithic video game companies.” The plot promises a plethora of surprises, poking fun at not only standard pop-culture, but also game-centric segments and parodies to appease even the most hardcore gamers. Unfortunately, the camp was keeping all of these secrets, well, top-secret.
They would tell us the game featured over an hour of new, TV-worthy material in cutscene form. All the actors reprise their roles for voiceovers, so it will be as authentic as possible. Tim Long quipped, “We’re not going for a hard ESRB rating here, but I will tell you some of the lines are so dirty, they made the cast cry.” Also, very early in the game, the Simpsons figure out that they’re actually inside a video game, which means all Springfield breaks loose.
Amos and Creative Director Jonathan Knight took us through one chunk of the game, however. It was an eating contest at the Duff Brewery, and the player controlled Homer. The perspective was free-roaming 3D, as Homer battled Barney, Krusty and other familiar characters to reach food. Surprisingly, after ingesting enough grub, Homer could turn into Homerball — ransacking the place as a gigantic sphere.
Being in a video game (and being aware of it), the family Simpson is not tied to the limitations of the show as much. Each one has a superpower to exploit: Homer has his ball form; Bart turns into Bartman; Marge can command hordes of characters; and Lisa can change the environment. Each of these has their own advantages, and the level design allows you to use them both to complete prime objectives and do a little exploring to find secrets and gather pick-ups.
Back to the eating contest: The stage is almost like Epcot Center, with various geographical locations. Homer trashes Germany, Mexico, and others — partially with the help of a spicy pepper (referencing the chili cook-off episode) to turn into a ball of lava. When it comes time to go through Scotland, Groundskeeper Willie closes the gate.
Now it’s time to switch to Bart, and use Bartman’s glide ability to scale the wall and take out Willie with some well-placed slingshot fire. This is a good time to mention the co-op gameplay. Each stage features two Simpsons family members, and you can switch between them during play. Much like LEGO Star Wars, a second player can jump in at any time. This turns everything split-screen, and the difficulty scales dynamically.
Online play will not be supported, but EA’s reasoning is sound. Knight says, “Our focus has been high-quality couch play. People are going to want to own the game because their friend will come over for a Homerball vs. Homerball match, or to play through the story with them. It’s going to bring the whole family together.” The prospect of multiplayer-centric minigames is definitely exciting.
Being a 3D game about a 2D family brings up some complications. You need to be faithful to the show, but expand the world to be more exciting. You need to have the Simpsons themselves be 3D, but still look hand-drawn. The team worked many months in research and development to solve this. Knight says, “We have a patent pending on this tech to real-time deform the mesh of faces as you move the camera around. It’s important that they stay looking like Bart or Homer from any angle.”
This addresses problems with past 3D Simpsons games, where something just didn’t look right — be it Lisa’s hair or Homer’s marshmallow-man physique. Knight says, “You want Lisa’s hair to look like a flat 2D billboard from any angle. There’s a lot of technology behind it, but it looks effortless in the game. But once you see it, you can never go back to another Simpsons game. It’s the first time we’re capturing the look and feel of the TV show.”
As we got to see the game in action (on Xbox 360), we can attest to the beautiful and faithful art style. It’s like you could pause it at any time, and it looks like an animation cel from the show. The Simpsons has simplistic visuals to be sure, but the game doesn’t skimp on details. Physics react realistically (for a cartoon, of course), and the animation is very solid. Also, things like flesh bunched up on the Homerball are nice — albeit disturbing — touches.
We’ve gotten relatively technical talking about graphics, but Simpsons creator Matt Groening popped in to put things into perspective: “This is the most ambitious Simpsons game ever. It rewards people that love games, while making fun of other games.” This isn’t just a video game starring The Simpsons; this is exactly how The Simpsons themselves would do video games. Due to release in late fall, we still have a long time to wait, but with reruns, the upcoming movie, and no shortage of DVDs, there are plenty of outlets to get your Simpsons fix in the meantime.