The Simpsons Arcade Game was developed and published by Konami and released to arcades on March 4th, 1991 -- with PC and Commodore 64 versions following shortly thereafter. Featuring eight stages for the player to fight their way through and two bonus stages, the game also makes use of the same engine that powered the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade Game, released two years earlier. Additionally, the four main voice actors ( Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner and Yeardley Smith) from the TV series provide voices for the game.
Mr. Burns and Smithers steal a diamond, but a run in with the Simpson family who happen to be walking down the street at the time of the robbery results in Maggie using the diamond as a pacifier. Mr. Burns kidnaps Maggie, and the family gives chase. They battle across Springfield until they end up at the Nuclear Power Plant for a final showdown with Smithers and Burns.
One to four players can play, each controlling a different member of the Simpsons family. Players can choose to control Homer, Bart, Marge, or Lisa. Homer is the brawler of the group, using his fists to deliver a beat down to enemies. Bart fights with his skateboard, which he also uses to travel around the stages. Marge attacks with her vacuum cleaner. Lisa rounds out the group by fighting with a jump rope. Additionally, other popular characters from The Simpsons TV series appear throughout the game as non-player characters. Two players can team up for a special attack, which can deal damage across the screen. The special attacks vary depending on which characters are being used.
The stages play out in the traditional beat-em-up style. Hundreds of weaker enemies appear throughout the stages, and the players must beat up the enemies until their life bars run out -- also gaining points from every enemy attacked (one point is awarded for each enemy successfully hit.) When all the enemies in a screen are defeated, the players may continue the stage until they reach the boss character(s). Player health is measured by a life bar, which is depleted by enemy attacks and replenished by food.
*denotes this stage is followed by a bonus mini-game
Stage 1 - Downtown Springfield *
This stage has the player fighting various enemies through the downtown shopping district of Springfield, eventually making their way past a fire station (and being attacked by a fireman wielding a fire extinguisher) and ending up on a bridge to fight the boss of the stage -- an extremely large wrestler. This stage is followed by a mini-game in which up to all four players attempt to fill balloons with air by mashing the attack buttons. Whichever player fills (and pops) their balloon first wins and is awarded bonus points. If a human player is playing as the character, the balloon will be of the specific player characters head (i.e. Marge will blow up a Marge look-alike balloon.) If not, the A.I. will assume the other slots as a common enemy type in the mini-game and blow up balloons with the head of Krusty the Clown.
Stage 2 - Krustyland
The second stage is centered around Krutsyland, a Krusty the Clown themed amusement park. At the beginning of the stage Krusty the Clown will attack the player -- only to be revealed after being defeated to be an imposter. Making their way past concession stands, various rides, and a make-shift zoo (watch out for the escaping Bear!) The stage ends with a boss fight against a large Krusty balloon manned by Mr. Smithers.
Stage 3 - Springfield Discount Cemetery
Various types of zombies and ghosts await the player(s) in this stage. Starting at the entrance of the run down cemetery, the stage concludes with the player(s) falling into an open grave (which ends up being a secret entrance to an underground elevator), ending up in a basement complete an entrance to Moe's Tavern and two bosses to fight. The bosses for this particular stage are two angry bouncers of Moe's Tavern.
Stage 4 - Moe's Tavern
The fourth stage has the player(s) fighting through Moe's Tavern -- the bar is featured first with various enemies to defeat standing atop it. After which is a stage and a gaming area complete with pool tables, darts and various arcade games. At the end of the stage is a gambling area (who knew?) and another bar where you'll encounter the boss -- an extremely drunk patron of Moe's Tavern who swings punches wildly and breathes fire.
Stage 5 - Springfield Butte
Set out in the wilderness of Springfield is this stage, where the player(s) fight through a wooded wonderland complete with swarming bees and Bigfoot (yes, you do fight him.) The end of the stage is where you'll fight the boss, which is a man in a giant Grizzly Bear costume.
Stage 6 - Dreamland *
Appropriately named, this stage features the widest variety of enemies encountered thus far. Giant flying donuts, flying saxophones, headless nuclear power plant workers, and devils in the image of Bart round out this crazy cloud filled stage. The boss of the stage is a huge bowling ball (with eyes and an arm, no less.) Additionally, this stage is followed by another mini-game, in which the player(s) will mash the attack buttons to slap their assigned character in an attempt to wake them up from their "dreams."
Stage 7 - Channel 6
In this stage you'll fight your way through the busy Channel Six Television station. First through the live taping of a news cast, continuing past a TV set of the moon complete with robots and aliens to fight -- ending with yet another TV set with attacking ninjas. The boss fight here is against the "Kabuki Master."
Stage 8 - Springfield Nuclear Power Plant
Not an actual stage, this last level features two boss battles and no regular enemies. The first boss fight is against Mr. Smithers, who runs around wildly throwing bombs at the player. After Mr. Smithers is defeated, Mr. Burns appears in a mech suit, complete with lasers and rockets. After defeating him, the Simpsons family recover Maggie, and the game ends.
PC and Commodore 64 ports.
Two ports of the original arcade game were released -- a version for PC and another version for the Commodore 64. Each port has significant changes which include graphic fidelity -- the PC being a slight downgrade in this regard, while the Commodore 64 version resembles a completely different game altogether. Some gameplay mechanics were removed for the home versions and, additionally, in the home versions stages often appear different due to missing back round gags and scenery.
The home versions of the game support only two players, as opposed to four.
The ability to team up with another player and perform combo attacks is removed in home versions.
Health bars are situated at the bottom of the screen in the home versions.
Easter Eggs and appearances of other characters
- Before the beginning of each stage, Binky, the rabbit from the comic strip Life in Hell (also created by Simpsons TV series creator Matt Groening) appears inside a television with different animations for each stage.
- Snowball II, one of the many pet cats of the Simpson family appears in stage 2.
- One of the identical twins (Sherri and Terri) also appear in stage 2.
- Bleeding Gums Murphy makes an appearance in stage 4, performing on stage.
- A Simpsons Arcade Game cabinet can be seen in stage 4.
Over the week of January 30, 2012, both Sony and Microsoft announced that an HD re-release of the game would be coming to PSN and XBLM.
The game includes all 8 stages, all 4 playable charters and 4-player online co-op. Also included are 3 modes: Quarters, Survival, and Free Play. There are in-game flyers and posters, character guide and an unlockable version of the Japanese game.