The Simpsons: Road Rage was a multiplatform release back in 2001, available on all the home consoles and a game I sunk a lot of hours into on the Gamecube. However, while the home console edition was a competently made, fun arcade style game that captured the feel of the show, the Gameboy Advance version is a mess.
The setup is pretty good; Megalomaniacal millionaire Montgomery Burns has bought the Springfield bus company and replaced all the busses with cheap replacements powered by nuclear waste. The Simpson family decide to fight thing, setting up an independent taxi company. Your goal is to earn enough money to buy back the bus company for the town. As you go, you'll recruit new members to your cause and unlock new players and cars. Gameplay is borrowed shamelessly from Crazy Taxi, you drive around different areas of Springfield and pick up passengers, drive them to their destination as fast as you can and collect the cash at the end.
In recent years, thanks mainly to the success of the DS, we have grown accustomed to handheld titles that aren't the runt of the litter. They try new things, head off in a different direction and make the most of the system; back in 2001 the approach was somewhat different. On consoles, this was a colourful and rather attractive game that made use of lots of familiar Simpsons music and characters, hundreds of different clips from the original voice actors ran throughout the game and it was often amusing as well as fun. Unfortunately the Gameboy Advance version is clearly designed just to get a few extra quid out of the Simpsons brand.
Firstly, the Gameboy Advance is really not capable of replicating the gameplay of Crazy Taxi without some pretty major amendments. I would imagine the best way to have made this game would have been to use a top down perspective, similar to the original Grand Theft Auto titles. Road Rage doesn't take that approach, rather it uses some very horrendous pre-rendered cars and locks the camera behind them. This looks awful but it's not the worst part. The environment in the game is totally flat and totally unrecognisable, the effect is somewhat akin to driving around on giant playmat that's been through the wash. There are literally no objects in this game, none. However, it is still possible to collide with the walls on your ugly Springfield carpet. It's totally impossible to distinguish between an obstacle and a road and it makes the game practically impossible to play. There's no fun here, it's just endlessly frustrating and painful on the eyes. This example of a game being completely broken is enough to rule out the game as an option completely.
It doesn't redeem itself in other areas much either. Music and sound effects are of the lowest quality, seemingly taken from the old Mega Drive games. The cutscenes you are occasionally treated to look right out of the early 90s too, nothing about the presentation feels like it was done with care or even patience. It is a rushed, hollow and unsatisfying game.
For parents wondering if your kids would enjoy this, don't let the Simpsons on the box win you over. This isn't really suitable for kids, it's so poorly designed it really requires the patience of a saint to get through and there's none of the charm of the show lurking within the box.
If you're masochistic however, this cartridge can be picked up on eBay or Amazon. Expect (Nay, insist!) to pay no more than a few pounds. It will run in any Gameboy Advance console or Nintendo DS and DS lite. No DSi or DS XL I'm afraid as it requires a GBA slot.
"The Simpsons: Road Rage" is a video game released for the Gameboy Advance console in 2003 by THQ. It is a driving game based on the popular animated series known as "The Simpsons". In the United States, the game received a rating of "E" by the ESRB panel which deemed it suitable for all ages.
Mr. Burns has overthrown Springfield's public transit system and has substituted high priced nuclear devices. In order for the residents to claim back their system, they must pay Mr. Burns the sum of $1M Dollars and to do so run their own private transportation business. The player assumes the role of a taxi driver and must collect fares and deliver them to their destination as quickly as possible. The game bears resemblance to "Crazy Taxi" in this respect and also rewards the player for adjusting to the passenger's personality. Bart Simpson, for example, will tip the driver excessively for hitting other vehicles on the way to his destination. Where the gameplay falls apart, I find, is its lack of differentiation in the task. While the core component of the game is transporting others to their destination, the characters will always request the same destination each time. There is little chance to explore Springfield in its virtual glory as the player is often confined to the same routes.
The graphics are presented from a trailing view of the vehicle. While I was able to see the traditional Springfield landmarks, their appearance was often distorted and pixelated. This hindered the game's experience for me as I felt like I was playing an earlier Gameboy Color title as opposed to a more recent Advance game. Each of the passengers also show an odd walk as they exit the taxi and proceed to their destination. It seem as if the developers scrolled an image cell as opposed to animating it. The soundtrack is also limited in its delivery to simple engine sounds and car honking; there is, unfortunately, no voice cues from the Simpsons franchise.
Overall, Road Rage is not a game I would recommend to prospective buyers. While it borrows a popular name, I found the actual brand integration to be limited and often did not feel as if I was experiencing a true "Simpsons" release.