The Simpsons have fallen into a rut in terms of games, where they were once the kings of the licenced title, now the most recent release is the mediocre and controversial mobile game The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Well, I think a The Simpsons: Hit and Run remake or remaster would serve as a safe return to glory. Hit and Run is an open-world driving game split apart by levels featuring, obviously, the Simpson family of Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and the beloved Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, alongside a plentiful cast of characters from the franchise’s classic years.
Much like how The Simpsons: Road Rage plays similarly to Crazy Taxi but with a big paint bucket labelled “The Simpsons” spilt on it, Hit and Run is very similar to the Grand Theft Auto titles of the early 2000s era but significantly more Simpsons-y. Instead of stealing cars, you now carpool with everyone! Instead of committing some crimes and running away from the police… Okay, you still have to run away from the police.
The Simpsons: Hit and Run takes you on its own original adventure that feels like a very long episode of the show. Exploring Springfield on a scale that only The Simpsons Game and the old 3D point-and-click adventure title for PC ‘The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield’ can rival; yes, we’re going that deep. You can dive into every nook and cranny you can imagine in every iconic Springfield location.
Though it comes across as a child-friendly version of GTA 3, it has plenty to offer in terms of gameplay, racing, collecting, challenging missions, and exploring detailed areas. Each level has side-quests alongside its mandatory story missions, and bonus racing missions where you can acquire new and iconic vehicles from the series such as Barney Gumble’s “Plow King” and everyone’s favourite Simpsons musical disaster, the monorail.
Though its development infamously staggered towards the end of the game, making the last few quests play almost exactly the same bar a few difficulty spikes. It’s the first few levels where Hit and Run shines creatively. Again, we cannot express how rewarding exploring Springfield is. You come across secrets, easter eggs, and most importantly, shortcuts. The later levels are unforgiving with barely sensical time restraints that, even with shortcuts, you find yourself barely making it to the finish line. Keep your hands at 10 and 2 because you need to be a pretty SMRT driver to beat these challenging timed missions.
Each level consists of iconic locations from The Simpsons. Evergreen Terrace, the home street of The Simpsons, Downtown Springfield, the complex city-like area, surrounded by highways, where Moe’s Tavern and town founder Jebediah Springfield’s statue resides, and finally, the shining sunset glistening on the Squidport entertainment pier.
Later on, you find levels being reused with a new coat of paint and soundtrack, the first Evergreen Terrace level is the area for Marge’s level just at nighttime, and also the final level but with a massive Halloween makeover referencing The Simpsons Halloween specials “The Treehouse of Horror.” I hope you like timed missions and voice lines referencing the show whenever you crash into anything, because Hit and Run has got ‘em.
Speaking of references, they plaster the entire game. You cannot escape them as the world, the vehicles, and even the collectables, are all soaked in references to the classic Simpsons episodes. This only benefits the exploration angle the game offers, not only due to its sometimes brutal difficulty that makes you actively seek out any shortcut you can, but to see how deep the developer delved into the library of Simpsons content.
Additionally, there’s a multiplayer racing mini-game which resembles Scalextric with its top-down perspective, though you can change to a first-person point-of-view for variety. Much like in the main game levels, there are seven bonus stages in total, with each one using its associated levels style respectively. These mini-games are fun but the meat of the game is in its very-replayable main story.
A large issue that may disrupt the demands for a Simpsons: Hit and Run remake and/or remaster is that it’s simply a tie-in game of a licensed property from 2003. But I think licenced games should never be out of the running for remasters. Nostalgia for an old game getting the remaster treatment is just one benefit, the major additional one is new fans get to experience an amazing piece of their fandom that they can enjoy with ease. The recent Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom remaster is a key example of not just a great remaster but a game from a licensed property being such a great hit it escapes the realm of the show it’s based on.
So the question becomes: does The Simpsons: Hit and Run have that level of following and general appeal that its remaster could profit off of? By their own will or the command of the yellow doughnut-consuming overlords, the modding community of Hit and Run is creatively abundant. The most famous of which is DonutTeam’s ‘Donut Mod’, which isn’t just a graphical and performance upgrade of the game, but a growing entity of its own. Adding more levels, costumes, cars, missions, and areas to explore within them. It’s clear the game holds popularity now more than ever.
To add to the speculation, the official Simpsons Hit and Run soundtrack dropped on music streaming services out of nowhere. So something surely must be in the works. After all, we loved this game as children so let’s bring it back for the new generation. In the infamous words of Helen Lovejoy, “WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!”.
There’s our case for why The Simpsons: Hit and Run is long overdue for a remake. If you can’t wait for a remake, then check out our list of games like GTA that are on Switch and mobile right now to wet your crime-craving whistle.