When you think of classic DOS Games... perhaps King's Quest comes to mind or Wolfeinstien 3D. Those games left their legacy exclusively for the PC platform. Let's be honest, DOS PC's were never really known for fast paced sprite shooters or animated beat 'em ups. What the PC was good at however, it excelled. Simulators, turn based strategies and solitaire card games. So when I find an arcade port that doesn't completely suck, I have to play it to believe it!
The game in question as if you didn't already know, is "The Simpsons Arcade Game" released by Konami in 1991. Yes I can confidently say that the Simpsons Arcade Game for MS-DOS is by far the best home port produced. Actually its pretty much the only home port produced. There was a version for the C64 that was also released. As to why they licensed this game to a console that was clearly out of its prime, I can only wonder. Not hating on the C64 by any means but it would have been nice to see this on the Genesis or SNES 16-bit consoles. Back to topic... the DOS version may seem like an non-contendender for this type of genre but as we look closer, it holds up rather nicely.
Our game is the 1.44 floppy version. There was also a 5.25 floppy version which of course makes no difference in game features, just storage type. Looking at the packaging, we see your standard PC big box with insert and game instructions typical of the time, nothing really note worthy here.
For this review I'm using my trusty 486DX 66 PC. No Dos Box here guys. My game was installed the good 'ol fashioned way. 1.44 floppy. I recommend the Gravis Game Pad. Its by far the weapon of choice. This controller has been unofficially accepted as the "standard" game pad for vintage PC's. Its durable, responsive and feels great in the hand. Have no fear, there is a keyboard option if a controller is not available.
After calibrating your controller, the splash screen welcomes you with credits and title. The iconic intro from the TV series plays through, showing the Simpson family along with their stats. The visuals are pretty spot on. There are some colors missing but its not like the Simpsons pallet was all that sophisticated to begin with. The demo attract cycles "once" then immediately takes you to the "select your character screen" whether you want to start or not. I personally would have liked the attract to cycle on, until I press start like most games. Not sure why they did it that way but its a small thing to overlook.
After selecting your character your immediately displayed with the cinematic intro of Maggie getting abducted by the Sinister Professor and then your adventure begins.
All the characters have their unique offensive strategies and strengths. Bart rolls on his skateboard while Lisa uses her jump rope. Marge uses a vacuum cleaner while Homer punches with his fists. Personally I gotta go with Marge. Nothing like a full sized vacuum cleaner to the head. The PC port retains most of all the levels from the arcade as well as the bonus balloon stages and cut scenes. So glad they kept this!
The sound is ok. I feel it could have been better. It has that DOS midi thing going but again not that horrible. I say the mark against this game are the Sound FX. They are rather drab and seem like some are completely missing all together.
I was a DOS game player back in the day and I grew up when most console players around me thought DOS games were slow and horrible. Of course games like Street fighter 2 for the PC didn't help. I am forever traumatized with that game. The Simpsons port however leaves you satisfied. Finally PC port that can hold up its own.
The DOS version of the game seems to be hard to come by but If your looking to play this classic game, search for DOSBOX if you don't already have it. It plays just as good as the floppy and no need for a refrigerator sized PC.
I think we can all agree that the original arcade is by far the one to play and is untouchable when it comes to overall experience. But don't overlook this classic. This is one of the few arcade ports for the PC that I can remember enjoying back in 1992. It's playable, fun and for you purists, doesn't veer off from the arcade.Overall I recommend this hidden gem for those DOS players out there looking for a fun and simple platformer It's a nice PC port that surprisingly doesnt suck.