Developer(s) – Radical Entertainment & Altron
Publisher(s) – EA &THQ
PEGI – 3
Developed by Radical Entertainment and released for a number of sixth-generation consoles, The Simpsons: Road Rage is a driving game similar to Crazy Taxi; so similar in the fact that Sega ended up bringing a lawsuit to Fox Entertainment, which was settled before it went to court. The home console version received mixed reviews upon release, which the Game Boy Advance port was universally panned. I would put it in the category of it being a mixed bag as opposed to it being an overall negative experience; the game, while flawed, does have some redeeming quality to it and is a relatively enjoyable title to play.
Graphics – 7/10
The game is set across various locations throughout the town of Springfield, the Downtown district, and the Nuclear Power Plant to name but a few. The visuals were one aspect at the time that was heavily criticized upon release of this game, but I’ve never understood why other reviewers had such a gripe with them. They’re technically sound as they look just as well as any other early sixth generation game, and it’s among the first games to have cel-shaded visuals, which helped to make it stand out at the time. The graphics are also conceptually sound, as it has exactly what a player would expect playing a game based on The Simpsons; cartoonish graphics that aren’t necessarily cutting-edge. What’s more is that all the original voice actors are present, which again, only adds to the feel of what was to be expected.
Gameplay – 7/10
A driving game by genre, whilst it does borrow heavily from Crazy Taxi, there are also a number of distinct gameplay features as well, such as bonuses given for either careful or reckless driving, a cast of familiar Simpsons characters, and vehicles to unlock and a story mode. The similarities to Crazy Taxi never bothered me as much as it bothered other players. The way I see it, It’s a lot like comparing Mario Kart 64 to Diddy Kong Racing; Diddy Kong Racing had more distinct features to it that provided a lot more entertainment than Mario Kart 64 in my opinion, making it the better game. Likewise, I actually prefer The Simpsons: Road Rage to Crazy Taxi.
Controls – 8/10
The controls were another aspect that critics had problems with as well, and in this respect, I can empathize with their concerns to a certain extent. It can be very easy to unintentionally crash into things due to very sensitive collision mechanics and it can cause some issues that can’t necessarily be put down to how reckless players are driving at the time. There are shortcuts around each track to make for smoother driving, but I think the game would’ve benefitted from there being more of them to add to the game’s fluidity. That being said, cars are a lot easier to handle than what they are in many other racing games, so there are issues that other critics had with this game that I still disagree with in terms of controls.
Lifespan – 8/10
Thanks to the inclusion of a story mode and a high score system, the game can take an unprecedented amount of time to finish, which impressed me greatly. 20 hours is the average lifespan of this game; this is the time it takes to unlock every course, unlock every character, surpass all the high scores, and get through the story mode. I can’t help but think that if there were more of an incentive to collect as much money as possible as opposed to simply the high score, then there would be a little bit more to play for, but still, I was taken aback by just how long it took to beat this game when I beat it at the time it came out.
Storyline – 5/10
The story of the game involves the Simpsons, as well as several other familiar characters in the series, setting up their own taxi services in order to compete with, and eventually drive out, a dangerous radioactive bus service set up by Mr. Burns. There are a couple of jokes thrown into cutscenes that are somewhat reminiscent of the golden age of the Simpsons throughout the 90s, but depending on which character the player selects, there’s not the level of comedy you would expect from a Simpsons game. The best characters to pick for that are simply the funnier characters that exist within the show, like Homer, Moe, and Krusty the Clown.
Originality – 6/10
There’s no denying that Crazy Taxi was a major influence behind this game. However, as I stated earlier, this game was one of the first to make use of cel-shaded visuals, which would go on to be used in games of major franchises, such as The Legend of Zelda and Borderlands. Jet Set Radio was the very first, but it’s because of elements like that, as well as what gameplay differences there are compared to Crazy Taxi, which makes this game stand out more than what people may realize.
Overall, The Simpsons: Road Rage, whilst not being the game had the potential to be, is by no means a completely disappointing experience. It has plenty to do, great visuals, the quirky cast of Simpsons fan favorites, and all the best things about Crazy Taxi intact, which makes for the better game out of the two in my opinion.