If you love to laugh, the one-player game Simpsons Hit and Run (2003) has 50 fun-filled missions full of comedy and references thanks to the popular game engine used Grand Theft Auto (GTA). As in GTA, you get full experience on foot or by vehicle. Even the title concept “hit and run” (once your rage meter gets too high and you’re close to the cops, you get caught with a $50 fine) mirrors GTA gameplay. One notable difference – characters automatically jump out of the vehicle before it blows up from too much damage.
Set in Springfield, the storyline involves some conspiracy-like activity involving mechanical bees and suspicious new “Buzz” cola. These elements provide challenges, but aren’t very threatening, which eases the mind to keep your entertainment level high. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of challenges for serious gamers and fun for fans including plenty of great dialogue, especially Bart, the narrator, who moans lines like “Why did I agree to do this stupid tutorial?” and “Violence is always an appropriate response in the face of the unknown.” The solid comedy comes directly from the show’s original writers and, of course, the original voice talent of popular characters including Homer, Apu, Lisa and Marge.
Of course, viewers and fans of the show will get a lot more out the environments (downtown, the harbor and suburbs) gags and jokes laced throughout the game. Unfamiliar players can “bone up” on Simpsons trivia with the 49 hidden collector cards containing trivia, quotes and other information from specific TV episodes.
The gameplay satisfies with several extras, coins, time trial races, bonus games and unlockable cars and you can always check your level progress to see what elements you’re missing.
The car controls are simple (as Bart says “Just like every driving game ever”) and smooth allowing players to spin out and perform some amazing and challenging stunts. You can acquire wrench icons to repair your ride. New and different cars (many seen in the Simpsons Road Rage game) can be bought from other characters and at the phone booths scattered around town. Navigation assistance consists of the GTA-like map icon in the right corner of the screen, but you also get some blinking arrows right on the road which can help you get to your objective, especially when time is running out on your mission.
On foot, choice of clothing becomes an important element in certain missions, but most of the threads should tickle your funny bone and provide some nice variety. Familiarize yourself with the basic jump, attack, jump-attack, double-jump and jumping slam attack for more interactive fun and bonuses.
Would’ve liked to actually buy some food or play the video games in the Qwik-E-Mart and see Scratchy blow up on the right of the loading graphic at the end, but there’s so many more laughs and entertaining elements to this highly recommended game. Lack of originality in the gameplay (borrowing significantly from GTA) and a few graphic/clipping problems represent the only miscues of this worthy game title. Originally released on Gamecube, PC, Playstation 2, and Xbox.