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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by THQ

Bart3.jpg (4393 bytes)Every year I wait for the new Treehouse of Horror episode. The episodes always feature some parodies and re-envisioned versions of horror and sci-fi plots that involve the denizens of Springfield in strange and bizarre ways. Undoubtedly, the Treehouse of Horror has become a Halloween tradition, and with good reason. Naturally, I was excited to hear about Treehouse of Horror: Night of the Living (again with the clever puns), but that excitement was also undercut by the knowledge that a decent Simpsons game hasn’t hit the market in ages. Fortunately, THQ pulled this title off quite nicely, and I can report that Night of the Living is a great platform game for the Game Boy Color.

Homer4.jpg (4111 bytes)In Night of the Living, you play all the Simpson’s family members: Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge, and Maggie. The levels are designed after previous Treehouse of Horror episodes, so you’ll be battling ghosts, mowing down zombies, killing a vampiric Mr. Burns, and the like. Each level has you playing a different member of the family, and each level plays a bit differently.

Lisa2.jpg (3646 bytes)In the first level, you play Bart as he tries to fix the power in the house so he can save Santa’s Little Helper from the evil, uh, ghost-broom. You move on to Maggie’s level, where she has been combined with a fly in a teleportation machine. You must fly her around to collect items and find the machine to return to normal. You’ll also battle zombies (including a zombie-fied Apu, Moe, and Skinner) as Marge, hunt a vampiric Burns as Homer, help Lisa thwart Skinner’s plan to serve elementary school students as lunch, pilot a robotic Homer, and use a King Homer to destroy the city. What fun!

Marge5.jpg (3044 bytes)The graphics are done very well, and the characters are actually rendered quite nicely. In addition to overal quality graphics, the levels are designed with a sly knowledge of the series. You’ll see the bones and treasure hidden beneath the Simpsons’ basement, and you’ll encounter elements from the show like Mr. Sparkle boxes. The Treehouse of Horror theme also allows the game to use beloved characters as boss enemies. The sound is quite good, and the control is very straightforward, although it does change slightly to fit the goals of each level.

Night of the Living suffers from the same affliction as many GBC titles: The difficulty comes not in completing the tasks, but in figuring out exactly how to complete the tasks and exactly what tasks you’re supposed to complete. The instruction manual and summary screens before each level are essential reading, but still don’t give you a clear picture of what’s expected. It’s frustrating that the difficulty comes in deciphering what the designers wanted you to accomplish rather than growing organically from the game itself. Still, this is an affliction common in GBC titles, and it’s no worse in Night of the Living than in most other GBC games.

The game is somewhat short. Once you figure out what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s no sweat to walk through all these levels. Replay value relies mainly on how much you like the Simpsons. The hardest thing to figure out about this game is this: Why on the GBC? The Treehouse of Horror premise is easily good enough to support a title on one of the home systems, and I’d love to see it done. Still, there’s no doubt that this is the best Simpsons title to come out in a long time. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for that Xbox Simpsons Kart Racer.

Shawn Rider

Snapshot

Ups: Good sense of humor; Simpsons game; nice graphics; variety.

Downs: Artificial difficulty; a bit short.

System Reqs:
Game Boy Color Only

 

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