Yep, I’m afraid so. Strap yourselves in, gents, this one’s back for another round.
If you’re a follower of all things gametastic, you’ll know the horror of the licensed game. Usually, these ballaches are trotted out to coincide with a movie release, so fast that the developers forget to put any actual gameplay in there. Mostly because impressionable moms will buy them for their kids regardless, if they have Pirates of the Caribbean or Star Wars or whatever on the front of the box there.
I can only imagine the clogged underworld u-bend where Satan found Superman 64. But when he chose to inflict it on us, he started a precedent that continues today.
Still, as we know, there are different shades of shit. While some games-of-the-movie are irredemably awful, some are just plain bad. You might even squeeze a little fun from them. One barely passable example? The Simpsons Wrestling.
This one hit the PlayStation in 2001, courtesy of Big Ape Productions. It’s a simple enough premise: Springfield is in the grip of wrestling fever, and everyone’s at it. Lisa isn’t above wanging papa Homer in the face with her saxophone to come out on top.
On the one hand, it’s all familiar fighting game fare. You choose your character and proceed through rounds against everyone else. There’s an ‘end boss’ of sorts, and you’re done. It’s all health bars, special moves, all of that good stuff.
It isn’t, however, very wrestle-y. You’d be forgiven for expecting it to be, what with that huge eff off Wrestling in the title, but nope. There are two Springfieldites in a ring, sure, but bouts play out more like a beat ‘em up. Each character has a standard jab attack and two specials, one with more cooldown and generally more power than the other. Krusty’s custard pie projectiles, Flanders’ homing bible, Barney belching out a toxic beer cloud, that sort of thing. There are also some half-assed aerial attacks and limited use of the ropes.
All in all, button-mashy spammable attacks rather than moves. All of these work on a stamina system, with stronger hits needing more meter. You can also collect power-ups that appear around the ring. In short, liberties are being taken. Most egregious of all for the wrestling faithful, opponents hit the deck belly-down, and can only be pinned from that position. Blasphemy!
In its way, The Simpsons Wrestling is pretty damn faithful to the show. Every fighter is voiced by their original actor, and have their rings in their own familiar locales (Apu’s Kwik-e-Mart and such). In the background, you’ll see a range of cameos from more obscure characters like the Stonecutters. This is a neat little touch, and one that fans will surely appreciate.
The game does have its moments. The final rounds vs Kang and Kodos, Smithers wailing (Waylon-ing) on you while Burns throws nukes at you in the power plant stage… There are some mildly entertaining unlockables too, like the Itchy vs Scratchy matches and the ridiculous weapons they have.
The Simpsons Wrestling is a hard one to place on the licensed game shitometer. It looks like hell for sure, and is as simplistic as they come. But it’s still relatively playable, and is much less offensive than some offerings we’ve seen.