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 hasnt 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.
In Night of the Living, you play all
the Simpsons family members: Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge, and Maggie. The levels are
designed after previous Treehouse of Horror episodes, so youll 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.
In the first
level, you play Bart as he tries to fix the power in the house so he can save Santas
Little Helper from the evil, uh, ghost-broom. You move on to Maggies 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. Youll also battle zombies
(including a zombie-fied Apu, Moe, and Skinner) as Marge, hunt a vampiric Burns as Homer,
help Lisa thwart Skinners plan to serve elementary school students as lunch, pilot a
robotic Homer, and use a King Homer to destroy the city. What fun!
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. Youll see the bones and treasure hidden beneath the Simpsons basement,
and youll 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 youre supposed to complete. The instruction manual and
summary screens before each level are essential reading, but still dont give you a
clear picture of whats expected. Its 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 its no
worse in Night of the Living than in most other GBC games.
The game is somewhat short. Once you figure out what youre supposed to be doing,
its 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 Id love to see it done. Still, theres no doubt
that this is the best Simpsons title to come out in a long time. Lets all keep our
fingers crossed for that Xbox Simpsons Kart Racer.