The Simpsons were everywhere back in the 90s and for a show that wouldn't air on UK terrestrial TV until its seventh year, that was something. Those kids whose parents were rich enough to have SkyTV were the kings of the playground. When BBC started broadcasting it in 1996, I was hooked and happily a year later Fox Interactive gave us a virtual tour of all that I missed out on. That game was The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield.
So, I didn't quite get all of the references or callbacks as a kid, but what I did get was just as funny as the show it is based on. The aim of the game is to collect a number of well-hidden cards dotted around the cartoon town (74 in total). The reason? There isn't one. It's just a virtual playground of stuff to do and you can see quite a bit without picking up a single card.
Each of the 74 collectable cards scattered around town depict a
Simpsons character, though they are often deviously hard to spot.
You begin in Springfield's Town Square where the one and only Troy McClure introduces the place in a way only he can. You are then given free reign to travel wherever you choose. Some places won't open up until you've seen a certain clue or picked up a certain object. There's no way to really know if you've triggered anything and these clues look just like the many other humourous knickknacks you can look at. Put a little extra thought into it, though, and you can join the dots. For example, if you snoop in Lisa's room and find instructions on how to feed the class gerbil, you will gain access to a cupboard in the school classroom. If you want to collect everything, this kind of puzzle solving is what you can expect. The difficulty mostly comes from sorting what is actually important and what is just for fun.
Almost everything you click on will trigger something fun and often hilarious. Sometimes it's a photo book, a sound clip or a brief animated skit. You will also come across a number of minigames, though not one of them has much depth. Bart's treehouse is the perfect place for a water-bomb minigame (a very basic shooting range) while the arcade has interactive versions of games found in the show. If you ever wanted to play Larry the Looter or Super Slugfest, now you can.
The arcade does have some memorable games to those familiar with the show.
If you are familiar with the show, they're all as bad as you'd expect.
Beyond the barely diverting minigames and the arbitrary treasure hunt, the bulk of the game is spent simply exploring a 3D representation of a town you've only seen in animated form for 30 years (or 10 years in 1997 if you count the Tracey Ullman Show shorts). You'll get to drink a Flaming Moe at Moe's Tavern, destroy heathen deities at Flander's house and cause havoc at Mr Burn's Power Plant. Naturally, the most complete location is the Simpson's home in which every room can be entered. They've always been a bit narcissistic.
If this formula was given to any other property other than The Simpsons, I doubt it would be half as entertaining. The gameplay is almost non-existent but with the show's huge cast and rich history, you get tons of throwbacks to everyone's favourite moments. If you're not a fan, steer clear, but if you are, then jump in and have a blast.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 323 Mb. Install Size: 926 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield is © Fox Interactive
The Simpsons (The TV Show) is © Twentieth Century Fox
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me