When it comes to cultural phenomena, there’s nothing quite like The Simpsons. After getting its start as a series of shorts back in 1987, the show started in earnest in 1989, going on to become one of the most beloved animations in history. Many people say The Simpsons has lost its way since then; it’s arguable that the show peaked around season five or six, and it’s only gotten weaker over the intervening years.
Whatever your personal opinion about The Simpsons might be, the fact is that there have been more than a handful of great games made about everyone’s favourite dysfunctional family. Here are the best Simpsons games 2022 has to offer. Bear in mind that some of these games might be hard to track down; either they launched for now-defunct platforms or they’re just plain rare. Let’s get started!
The city-builder genre has seen something of an explosion on the mobile market. This is encapsulated best in The Simpsons: Tapped Out, which was released all the way back in 2012 but is still going strong today. After one of his characteristic blunders, Homer has destroyed the entirety of Springfield, and it’s up to you to help him put it back together again. How you do so is mostly up to you, but you’ll meet iconic Simpsons characters and deal with their requests along the way.
The Simpsons Game
It’s pretty hard to get hold of The Simpsons Game today; it’s not currently listed as backwards compatible on the official Xbox site, and you can’t buy it for current platforms. Still, if you have a seventh-generation console kicking around, then it’s worth giving this irreverent platformer a try. It’s a 3D affair starring the titular family, but more to the point, it’s a deconstruction of the nature of video games (narratively, at least; the gameplay is relatively straightforward).
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Yet another Simpsons game that is no longer available for modern platforms, The Simpsons: Hit & Run is a sort-of Grand Theft Auto clone in which you must drive a variety of vehicles and complete a series of challenges. You can also explore sections of Springfield, collect hidden items, and meet Simpsons characters. Monstrous difficulty aside, Hit & Run is one of the most underrated games of its generation, so it’s a real shame you can’t find it anywhere anymore (not legally, anyhow).
The Simpsons Arcade Game
Again, you’re going to need to have an Xbox 360 or PS3 with the re-release of this game kicking around if you want to play it (or, alternatively, you could always source an actual arcade cabinet, although they tend to command eye-watering prices). The Simpsons Arcade is a side-scrolliong beat-’em-up in which you can play as four members of the Simpson family, each of whom has a unique combat style and special move. It’s a vibrant, anarchic game that deserves to be experienced.
The Simpsons: Road Rage
This list really is turning into something of a graveyard for Simpsons games, isn’t it? Unfortunately, many Simpsons games are no longer available to play, which really does raise questions of video game preservation. Road Rage is an absolutely shameless copy of Crazy Taxi; you must drive characters to their destinations within a time limit, which is increased if you manage to reach the destination quickly. Despite the thievery on display, Road Rage is a competent game and well worth a try if you have a PS2.
Once again, Virtual Springfield has been completely abandoned by its creators, which is a shame, as this little curio is fun enough to pass an hour or two. It’s more of an atmospheric experiment than a game, looking to render Springfield in 3D. There are plenty of hidden jokes and references to discover by clicking around Springfield, and while there’s no real conventional gameplay to speak of, this is certainly an interesting experiment that’s worth a look if you’re a Simpsons devotee.
The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare
Finally, a game that’s available to pl-no, sorry, we just can’t keep up the charade. Bart’s Nightmare is, like most of its ilk, unavailable to play on modern systems, so you’ll have to resort to other methods to check it out. It’s a minigame-filled surreal trip of a game that shares a lot in common with other genre-defying oddities like ToeJam & Earl. There are platforming sections, weird isometric bits, and moments where you get to rampage around as “BartZilla”. Hm.
The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants
Nope, can’t play this one either. Honestly, we really do need to come up with a better system for preserving our video games. Bart vs. the Space Mutants is a 2D sidescroller in which you control Bart as he tries to determine who in Springfield has been turned into a Space Mutant. It’s a sort of adventure game-come-platformer with plenty of tricky challenges to complete. The game is pretty hard, but it’s also a great conversion of the iconic Simpsons universe using the graphical technology available at the time.
Unfortunately, most Simpsons games are no longer available to play on modern systems. While there has arguably never been a truly amazing Simpsons game – the closest we’ll get is The Simpsons Game and Hit & Run – there are some great underrated titles here that really deserve more love than they get. Which is your favourite Simpsons game? Which ones have we missed on this list?