Unfortunately for younger me, my parents not only noticed those ratings at the bottom of a game or movie’s box, but also what it meant. So whenever young me wanted to try and convince them to allow me to buy a Grand Theft Auto game (GTA), it met a speedy resolution; not until you’re 18. Now of course this always disheartened me, but I never begrudged them for it. I understood that they were just doing what they felt was best for their child… but that didn’t mean I couldn’t play GTA.
“But Matt”, I hear you say to your screen (you weirdo), “you just said that they didn’t allow you to buy GTA. How did you play it if they said no?” Well, it’s quite simple really… The Simpsons Hit and Run.
Damn, you are a chatty bunch today! Because now I’m hearing you say “A Simpsons game? Are you kidding me?!” Well, you screen talking-to freak, I am not kidding you and here’s why.
In 2003 a new Simpsons game was released called “The Simpsons Hit and Run”. This was not unusual, there had been Simpsons games in the past, and there would be more to follow. But what was unusual was what the game was. It was Grand Theft Auto! The Simpson Hit and Run was for all intents and purposes, a GTA clone. All the basic elements from GTA were in this game, minus the things that made it an 18 rating. Think GTA where everyone has yellow skin, and nobody can die. I mean, just look at this side by side comparison of the two:
Young me couldn’t believe his luck when he managed to get his hands on this game. But little did he know that this game was about to deliver, big time! Because as well as being a clone of GTA, it was also a very good game!
The basic gist of the story is that there’s some strange things happening in Springfield and it is up to you to discover the truth behind these events. You do this mainly through driving missions, as this game focuses heavily on the driving aspect. Though you are also able to walk around and are required to do so for some missions. You acquire missions through certain locations or people, and you will be delighted to hear that you will be treated to a barrage of Simpsons catchphrases and quotes along the way. OK, maybe delighted was the wrong word there. Honestly, the constant attack of catchphrases and quotes can get a little annoying after a while.
Now a lot of people who have never heard anything about this game, might think “urgh, a game that’s just a clone of GTA, where you play as The Simpsons. That sounds terrible”. But I’m here to tell you that, despite a few minor issues, this game is disgustingly good fun! The creators of the game actually put a lot of effort into this game, and boy does it show! This isn’t just a cheap copy of GTA. Rather, they took the gameplay elements of GTA that make it great, and applied it to their game. Hey, if it ain’t broke why fix it, am i right?
The graphics are pretty decent for its time, and they make up for the lack of murder and weapons with some really fun, and sometimes quite challenging missions. The final boss is punishingly difficult, not because the boss is particularly tough, but because the game knows roughly how long you’d have been playing this game by that point and so it believes that you should be skilled enough by now to do the boss within a very tight time limit.
I like that. I like that the game forces you on several missions to retry, and retry, until you find the best method that allows you to beat that particular mission.Throw on top of that the ability to play as Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Apu. Then throw on top of that the very impressive list of car choices, and you’ve got yourself hours of fun!
Oh and just because you can’t kill anyone, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun attacking pedestrians, blowing up vehicles, and destroying the general environment. Exploration is also encouraged as this game has hidden items and coins to collect. The coins then allow you to purchase the unique cars and outfits, and there’s a hidden reward for collecting all of the Itchy & Scratchy cards in the game.
Overall, this game is well made with a story and world that is entertaining enough to make you consider it more than just a clone of another game. Plus, it’s a great way to both follow your parents’ rules and play Grand Theft Auto! … God I love this game!