Welcome to the conclusion of my week-long look at The Simpsons: Hit & Run. Over the last four installments I covered various topics and gave a little insight on a game that some people may have missed or purposefully passed over for one reason or another. After the bad taste that was left in everyone's mouths after The Simpsons Wrestling and The Simpsons Skateboarding, it's easy to understand why people would have chosen to cut all ties with the family in videogame form. But now, I'd like to just discuss licensed game in general and explain why The Simpsons: Hit & Run stands out.
People often look fondly back on the days of yore and remember when licensed games were amazing. But let me ask a serious question: were they, really? Obviously, people like me will point out the amazing Disney games by Capcom like DuckTales (that HD remaster version can't get here soon enough) and Chip N' Dale, but let us not forget that there were also games like The Karate Kid and Back to the Future. Seriously, my favorite movie of all-time is Terminator 2, and I have a sealed copy of the NES game, but the reason it's still sealed is not because it'll be worth money one day, but because I don't want to ever play it. I would have to open that thin layer of plastic, and who has that kind of time these days?
Trust me, there's nothing cool about that ROM.
Younger gamers have no doubt heard about the trials that older gamers like me had to go through. We had to walk uphill both ways in order to get to the grocery store and rent a licensed game that turned out to be garbage. We were a rebel group of risk-takers. In all seriousness though, we did sort of have to take risks when it came to games. The Internet was still a little ways off and Nintendo Power wasn't much help because according to them every game was "super radical cowabunga extreme" or something to that effect (the early 90s were a strange time). We didn't really have a way to know if a game was going to be good or bad, so we went by the cover art. Sometimes you could take a shot in the dark and it would work out in your favor, but then sometimes you would say "Mom, can I have Friday the 13th?" I was a naive child.
Just because the game is bad doesn't mean I don't want one of these.
Off the top of my head, the only licensed game that I've really enjoyed within the past few years is The Walking Dead series from Telltale. There are just as many licensed games now as there ever were, and it's often a movie-licensed game that's rushed out to coincide with the release of the feature film. The biggest problem is that the ratio of good:bad licensed games is so drastic that we instinctively expect them to be bad, and when we set our expectations low, we can't be disappointed. The Simpsons: Hit & Run wasn't something I expected to love as much as I do for that reason alone. After being burned for so many years, it was hard to give in. Luckily a friend of mine took the risk, and after seeing him play it for an hour or so, I realized I needed that game. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed. So if you're even a casual fan of the show, or if you just want a solid open-world game that's not too long, not too short, full of life, and made with love, I can't recommend this game enough.
Speaking of The Walking Dead...
In the first part of this series, I mentioned how I think that in order for a licensed game to be great it needs to have both good gameplay and stay true to the series. Hit & Run killed it in both regards, it really went above and beyond what anyone could have expected. Some may think I'm biased because I'm such a huge fan of the show, but it was received very favorably by pretty much every gaming outlet. If you love the series, or you did at one point, but passed over it, do yourself a favor and track it down.