The Simpsons Wrestling
|The Simpsons Wrestling|
|Developer(s)||Big Ape Productions|
The Simpsons Wrestling is a 2001 fighting video game based on the animated television series The Simpsons and is based on the professional wrestling genre. It was developed by Big Ape Productions for the PlayStation, and is the only Simpsons-related title to be developed for the console. The game was published by Electronic Arts in Europe and by Activision in North America. Fox Interactive distributed the game in both territories.
There are 20 characters in the game, all of whom are voiced by the same actors that provide their voices in the show, and each character executes his or her own exclusive moves and gestures and power moves in the wrestling ring. The matches take place in detailed 3D locations from Springfield. A round in the game ends when one wrestler pins his opponent for a three count. Two victorious rounds wins a match. Unlike in traditional wrestling rules, the opponent may be pinned belly-down.
The game was widely panned by critics and is considered one of the worst video games of all time.
The game is loosely based on professional wrestling games, but more closely resembles a beat-'em up. The game can be played in two modes: a tournament style single-player game or a grudge match where two players can interact. The matches take place in ten different detailed 3D locations from Springfield, such as the Simpsons' house, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, the Kwik-E-Mart, and Moe's Tavern. Letters float around in the wrestling ring, and if a wrestler collects enough of them, they can taunt and temporarily become invincible. A round ends when one wrestler pins their opponent for a three count. Two rounds are needed to win a match.
Each time a successful attack is performed on a player, their health meter depletes. Players with low health stay stunned for longer when knocked down. A player can increase their health by picking up food items that randomly appear in the ring. Running and attacks drain stamina. If a player does not have enough stamina to perform a certain move, it becomes unavailable until they recover. Stamina is regained through not pressing the actions buttons or picking up certain items. Attacks which require more stamina are generally more effective. The stun meter only appears when the opponent is knocked down. It depletes gradually, but the stunned player cannot move until the Stun meter is completely drained. A player can reduce the stun meter faster by pressing the action buttons, or by receiving certain attacks. If a player is low on health, the stun meter will normally be higher, making pin attempts harder to resist. Once a player's health is completely depleted, it will only take one hit to stun them. Certain attacks to a stunned opponent will actually reset the stun meter.
During matches, wrestlers have a health meter that drains as they perform special moves, and gradually refills when they are not attacking. Different moves use up different amounts of energy, and certain characters can win any match by repeatedly using a particularly damaging move that does not require much energy. Several different power-ups are also available in the game, including a donut that increases speed, bowling pins that can be used as clubs, and bubble gum that slows players down.
In addition to health items, the letters A, N, U and T appear randomly in the ring. If either player collects enough to spell the word "TAUNT", they can then perform a taunt. The taunt will completely drain the opponent's stamina, making them unable to attack for a limited time.
The game features 20 characters from the show, all of whom are voiced by the same actors that provide their voices in The Simpsons. The player begins with only 8 of the 12 main characters to begin with. Others can be made playable by unlocking them, or unlocking a certain game mode.
- Homer - Homer is the most balanced character in the game, but relies particularly on brawling.
- Bart - Bart is a faster character who uses toys (skateboard, catapult) to make up for his lack of strength.
- Lisa - Lisa is another smaller character who uses her speed to make quick strikes on opponents. Her saxophone attack can hit an opponent anywhere within the ring.
- Marge - Marge has good reach but lacks strength. She uses household items as weapons. She can even use Maggie to limit an opponent's movement.
- Barney - Barney is one of the stronger characters, but lacks speed and stamina. His attacks are based on beer (including throwing beer glasses).
- Krusty - Krusty is a balanced character who uses a combination of brawling and typical clown paraphernalia.
- Apu - Apu is a brawler with moderate strength, but has good speed and stamina.
- Groundskeeper Willie - Willie uses gardening equipment to either keep opponents at a distance or to limit their movement.
- Bumblebee Man - (Unlockable) Bumblebee Man is a balanced brawler.
- Moe - (Unlockable) Moe is one of the faster characters who relies on fighting dirty. To that end, he carries a lot of makeshift weapons.
- Ned Flanders - (Unlockable) Ned Flanders is a weak character with very strong special attacks. His prayer attack is the most damaging in the game as it causes high damage, stuns instantly and hits repeatedly anywhere in the ring. He also fully recovers when pinned, so opponents must beat him twice just to win one singular round.
- Professor Frink - (Unlockable) Frink is a hard to control character who relies on gadgets to wear down opponents.
- Mr. Burns - (Boss Character) Waylon Smithers fights on Mr. Burn's behalf while Burns stands outside of the ring. Their strongest attack involves Mr. Burns throwing explosives into the ring that do not affect Smithers. They are only playable in the Mr. Burn's Office level.
- Kang and Kodos - (Boss Character) Kang battles on behalf of this team while Kodos supports by throwing random items into the ring. They are only available in the Spaceship level.
- Itchy - Itchy is a cartoon mouse with a lot of dangerous booby traps and weapons. He is only available in his own stage and can only battle Scratchy.
- Scratchy - Scratchy is the long-suffering victim of Itchy. However, his moves and attributes are comparable to Itchy's. He is only available in his own stage, meaning that he can only battle Itchy.
The voice of Kent Brockman can be heard occasionally during matches as a commentator. Various characters make cameos as background images. Each character executes their own exclusive moves and gestures.
Big Ape Productions developed The Simpsons Wrestling. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2000, Fox Interactive announced its plans to produce and publish the game for the PlayStation console. Karly Young, director of Fox Interactive, said that the company had received an "overwhelming" response to their previous Simpsons games, so they wanted to give the fans "another dose of Bart and Homer—this time for PlayStation gamers".
The following months, Fox Interactive looked to partner with somebody who could help publish the game. Activision, who knew the possible casual gamer interest in The Simpsons, announced on March 12, 2001 that it had signed a deal with Fox Interactive that would allow it to publish The Simpsons Wrestling in North America. Kathy Vrabeck, executive vice president of Activision, commented that "The Simpsons is a property that enjoys phenomenal success across several entertainment mediums, including interactive entertainment. The acquisition of this game reinforces our strategy of delivering products based on powerful, recognizable brands."
The Simpsons Wrestling received negative reviews from critics. It received an aggregated score of 41.21% on GameRankings and 32/100 on Metacritic. They criticized the game for having simplistic, unbalanced gameplay and bad graphics, but praised the game's audio track.
Doug Perry of IGN described The Simpsons Wrestling as one of the "ugliest" games he had ever seen. He thought the graphics were "choppy" looking, and the character outlines looked "broken up". Game Informer's Andrew Reiner criticized the game's design by saying that he did not think it held any wrestling qualities at all, and that the characters looked "awful". He said that instead of "grappling" or performing "devastating slams", you have to "slap your opponent silly" by mashing the buttons redundantly. GameZone, however, called the graphics "quite good, though a little clipped at times by the pace of the combat". Perry also thought there was little wrestling in the game, instead it is "all about smashing buttons and not having any skill whatsoever". Reiner said that the game was a major disappointment and is "one of the worst PS games to date".
In contrast to the game's negative response, GameZone said that even though the game does not feature continuous play, "the action flows well once into an event". GameZone's review praised the game's audio track, and thought it was "fun" because the comedy is straight from the television show, and the characters will "bring a smile to your face". Reiner also commented positively on the soundtrack and that the game may not be the best wrestling game available, "but it delivers what the cover advertises". GameSpot's Frank Provo said that "wit" and "charm" are the two most redeeming features of The Simpsons Wrestling, and in spite of the game's weak gameplay, it has "plenty of laughs in store" that devoted fans of The Simpsons will enjoy. The BBC's David Gibbon wrote that the end result of the track is one that will not "fail to impress fans".
The Simpsons Wrestling received a "Gold" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 200,000 copies in the United Kingdom. In 2018, Watchmojo.com ranked the game #1 "Worst" on their "Top 10 Best and Worst Simpsons Video Games" List.
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