Unless you’ve been living under a cosmic rock, you’ve probably heard or even watched The Simpsons. This iconic tv show is one of the world’s most loved adult cartoons and also the longest-running American scripted primetime television series. The first episode of The Simpsons aired on the 17th of December 1989 and spanned over 703 episodes and counting till this day. A much-loved icon in pop culture, it is no surprise that the franchise expanded into movies, short films, brand sponsorships and of course, video games. So, if you’re an avid gamer, this one is definitely for you. Without further ado, let’s dive right in! Today, we’ll be looking into a brief history of The Simpsons video games.
The Video Game Debut
Not long after the premiere of The Simpsons on television, their first self titled video game, The Simpsons, was both developed and published by Konami, a Japanese entertainment, video game, and gambling conglomerate. This debut game saw a release on the Commodore 64 and DOS and, of course, the recently announced Simpsons arcade 1UP machine. The game achieved major success and was quickly followed up by a brand (Bart vs. the Space Mutants) in 1991. Imagineering developed Bart vs. the Space Mutants, which further expanded the franchise into new platforms, including the NES, Amstrad CPC, and Master System.
22 Games & Counting
After the success of both The Simpsons and Bart vs. The Space Mutants, the franchise expanded into 22 video games over the span of 22 years. Some of the most notable games in the franchise include PC’s Cartoon Studio (1996), PlayStation’s The Simpsons Wrestling (2001) and The Simpsons: Hit & Run (2003) that was a major commercial success and is very well remembered by millennials and Gen X gamers. A testament to this is the remade enhanced version of Hit and Run developed.
2007 marked the release of The Simpsons Game that was developed by EA Redwood Shores, who further expanded the franchise onto new platforms, including the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The Simpsons: Itchy & Scratchy Land and Beyond
Not long after The Simpsons Game in 2007, the franchise finally made the shift to mobile gaming. The Simpsons: Itchy & Scratchy Land was launched in 2008. This was soon followed up with The Simpsons Arcade (2009) and The Simpsons: Tapped Out (2012) that were both available on both IOS and Android devices. These new mobile games sparked the next chapter of the franchise’s presence in the world of video games and opened itself up to a whole new generation of The Simpsons fans via the convenience and ease of mobile phone gaming.
So, why are there so many Simpsons video games?
The answer to this is pretty simple and consists of two components: a huge fan base and impeccable timing. The Simpsons began airing at the height of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s popularity. Although we couldn’t imagine a world full of 8-bit graphics in 2021, it is important to remember that the NES was one of the first systems capable of portraying characters as something other than stacked coloured squares. Games on the Nintendo, Sega Master System, and Sega Genesis made you feel like you were in a living, breathing world — a first of its kind in that era.
The Future & What To Expect
Although it’s been 14 years since a new Simpsons game was launched on a gaming console, fans all over the world haven’t given up hope in embracing a new game sometime in the near future. Considering The Simpsons is still running on television up till today (the 32nd season launched in May 2021), we are certain that it still remains a viable video game franchise that has the capability to achieve further success with its nostalgic charm and cult-like following. For now, we will patiently await the launch of a brand new game while enjoying the existing 22 games that we simply cannot get enough of.