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RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014) I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...

The Simpsons: Road Rage Review

Duke_Ferris By:
Duke_Ferris
12/01/01
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS 1- 2 
PUBLISHER EA 
DEVELOPER Radical Entertainment 
RELEASE DATE  
T What do these ratings mean?

Gas, brake, honk. Honk, honk, punch.

For years, Simpsons fans (who are rabid and multitudinous) have been clamoring for a good Simpsons game. So far, they have been let down. Game developer after game developer has taken the Simpsons license and churned out crap, and in some cases, worse than crap. So, as a particularly rabid Simpsons fan myself, I am pleased to announce that The Simpsons Road Rage is the best Simpsons game made. Too bad that's not saying much.

It seems to me that anyone trying to make a Simpsons game faces two major challenges. The first problem has plagued the manufacturers of plush toys and other novelties since the show first came out: Matt Groening's odd cartoon characters translate terribly into 3D. Lisa's head, for example, always ends up looking like a plastic yellow puffer fish.

The other problem is even more fundamental: What kind of game do you make? The lack of any obvious answer has led to a string of lame platformers, some dumb little action games, a bowling game, and a very, very bad wrestling game. Exhibiting another profound lack of creativity, the developers of Road Rage have made a Crazy Taxi clone.

The wealthy tyrant Mr. Burns has taken over Springfield's public transportation system and filled the streets with nuclear buses to drive people around. This is bad because'well'I guess because Mr. Burns did it. So the town of Springfield is out to stop him by turning all their cars into taxis. Ok OK, so Shakespeare didn't write the plot and it's basically just an excuse to get everyone speeding around in taxis. Fortunately for the developers, Crazy Taxi is a pretty good game and The Simpsons do a decent job of recreating it, at least while you're actually playing.

For those of you who have never seen Crazy Taxi, here's how it works: You pick a driver (in this case, a Simpsons character) and drive their car around Springfield like a maniac, picking up passengers and dropping them off for money. The faster you get them there, the bigger your bonus, but run out of time and it's game over. It's fast and fun.

The graphics, however, are pretty mediocre. I don't fault the game for it's bland textures because the cartoon has simple colors and the game does a decent job of looking like the show. But the edges are pretty grainy and there are some odd graphical glitches, like Ralph Wiggum, who looks like he is wearing a hat made out of bees.

The sound is great at first, with plenty of new original recordings by the real cast members. And with more than 30 Simpsons characters making an appearance, from Professor Frink to Mayor Quimby, there's a lot of dialogue. The best conversations are specific to particular pairs of characters when they recognize each other and say more meaningful things. But most of the time they just say the same random quotes, and while there are a lot of them, they'll start repeating themselves pretty quickly and you'll start wishing they'd just shut up for a while.

The Simpsons: Road Rage also improves on Crazy Taxi by making it bigger. There are 18 characters total, most of whom you unlock during the game when you get enough money, and each has their own unique vehicle. There are six large areas of Springfield to explore. There's a "mission mode" where you have 10 tasks to complete, like using Otto and his school bus to "knock over 10 street lamps in 30 seconds." Finally, there's a split screen two-player mode which Crazy Taxi never had.

But the best part of the game is that the developers are obviously Simpsons fans themselves - the game is a wealth of Simpsons trivia. They've tried to keep the virtual Springfield as true to the show as possible. From the Kwik-E-Mart to the Frying Dutchman, Simpsons fans will recognize common and not-so-common locations. Drive into the hills above Springfield and the real nerds will recognize Kamp Krusty, the Stonecutters Lodge and Rancho Relaxo.

The developers took the same care with the drivers and their cars. Chief Wiggum's police car and Homer's family sedan are obvious, but the aficionados will love Marge's Canyonero, Apu's 70's Firebird and Barney in the Plow King.

So it seems like we have a pretty solid game here. Not brilliant, but fun and dorky, maybe a "B." But there's a horrible curse on this game: the worst" loading times" ever. You can spend more time waiting around than actually playing Road Rage. There's a long load time before and after every single game, and each game is only a couple of minutes long. Mission mode is even worse; to play a 30 second timed mission, you have to wait for 40 seconds for it to load! Better not fail, or you'll have to wait again every time you retry. Even one of Grandpa's interminable stories is less boring.

All this makes The Simpsons Road Rage a perfect rental for Simpson fans, but I wouldn't want to buy it. In just a few days you can unlock all the bonuses, explore virtual Springfield to your heart's content and suffer through what will add up to hours and hours of loading time. After the fun wears off, you'll find Road Rage feels more like stop and go traffic.

C+ Revolution report card
  • Still pretty fun
  • Good voices
  • Clearly made by Simpsons fans
  • Truckasaurus!
  • Just a copy of
  • For a while
  • Looooooong load times

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