Simpsons Road Rage has drawn many comparisons to Crazy Taxi and with good reason. It’s derivative, but it also features Springfield’s favorite family. See how it measures up.
Simpsons Road Rage has been called Crazy Taxi with the Simpsons, and quite fairly at that. The premise is clearly derivative of Sega’s insane driving game and features the world’s favorite animated family from Springfield. Not a completely terrible idea I guess, and certainly a marketable one. Yet does it have anything to offer other than a great license? The answer is yes, but not much.
Montgomery Burns shuts down all public transportation and opens his own line of transit. Instead of riding radioactive busses, the citizens of Springfield decide to go into the taxi business for themselves. By doing so, they hope to raise the $1 million necessary to buy the transit system back from Burns.
Initially, you start out in the main section of Springfield & can select members of the Simpsons family, each with their own vehicle. As you progress and earn money, you’ll be able to purchase additional vehicles and levels. Like Crazy Taxi, the objective is to pick up customers and drive them to wherever they want to go as quickly as possible. The difference is that these customers are all familiar Simpsons characters and their destinations are notable Springfield locales. Occasionally customers give special instructions such as avoiding traffic or going on a rampage, or wrecking into things. By accomplishing the objective correctly, additional money will be rewarded.
Instead of lots of traffic to plow through and avoid, there is only a small smattering of cars. Moreover, there are no bonuses for driving near, yet avoiding cars, as in Crazy Taxi. Otto’s school bus (maybe it’s one of Burns’ busses, but it looks like a school bus) erratically plows through town, wrecking into stuff. Seeing the bus causing destruction is certainly amusing, but it will knock you off track if you’re not careful. Burns, chauffeured by Smithers, will also sporadically appear and try to run into you, preventing you from getting to your destination. Other “obstacles” are citizens of Springfield you can hit, which go bouncing when struck.
The developers did a really great job of bringing the Simpsons to life. There are several jokes from the show and several familiar locations (including the box factory). The best part of Simpsons Road Rage is the enormous amount of voice samples performed by the actual Simpsons cast. Just about any and every Simpsons character you could think of makes an appearance, or is referenced in some way. Each character has a handful of expressions and there are many characters. If you at least remotely enjoy the Simpsons, you’ll undoubtedly get a few chuckles from these. Some of the exchanges are a little weird, as you’ll pick up a customer, say something random, have them say something random back and then have the same thing happen when you drop them off. It works most of the time, but sometimes it just gets awry. A few characters react specifically one another, which is pretty cool. Some of the sound clips will also keep running long after you’ve dropped someone else off and picked someone else up, creating some lag.
For a Crazy Taxi clone, Simpsons Road Rage comes up far short in the gameplay department. It’s neither as exciting or well executed as Crazy Taxi. There are no special moves to learn to improve times, not many shortcuts, poor collision detection, fewer customers to pick up and very bland levels. The upside is that it has a lot of things Crazy Taxi doesn’t have: Multiple levels, numerous characters and multiplayer modes. These additions help redeem the game and add increased play value.
The secret characters are great… Who wouldn’t want to ride around town in Groundskeeper Willie’s Tractor? Once all ten challenges are completed, Homer’s Dream Car, complete with “La Cucaracha” horn is unlocked. There are also seasonal characters for the holidays. Playing the game with friends on Xmas, we were surprised to discover Santa Apu appear as a character. These characters only last as long as the date of the holiday, but it’s still a neat little touch utilizing the GameCube’s internal clock.
The multiplayer is similar to tag, with two players racing to pick up a customer. Once one picks up a fare, the other player can steal them by ramming them. It’s somewhat fun, with a lot of chasing back and forth. It’s simple and works for the most part, though if one player falls far behind the other, it’s hard to catch up.
Another note: a few comments are a bit more on the adult side of things with what they imply. Nothing blatant, but when Grandpa Simpson wants to go to Grandma’s World because “he’s horny!” Wellll… I can just see some conservative parents raising an eyebrow.
I really felt the game could have benefited from additional development time. A bit more work on polishing everything and improving the gameplay could have helped a lot. Especially since there are even occasional, but noticeable bugs, such as customers sometimes rolling completely the opposite direction from your vehicle when you pick them up. I do highly recommend Simpsons Road Rage as a rental, especially for when hanging out with friends. Hardcore Simpson fans will get a kick outta the game, but even they will question the merit of owning this game.