Thursday, November 8, 2007


A couple of co-workers were wondering why The Simpsons Game seemed to be reviewing poorly on

Camera/controls are so-so for this game (not awful, but not as good as top platformers who've had many iterations to refine their craft). Of the handful of negative reviews that I can see, most seem related to the Wii version -- specifically the camera controls. It wouldn't surprise me if the developers dropped the ball in terms of optimizing camera/controls for the Wii/numchuck.

In my opinion (and I'm liking the game) the designers tried to make the game accessible to the masses and may have ended up failing folks who want to feel clever as they solve puzzles -- a big motivation for serious platformers. As implemented, this choice may also end up failing some of the very people that it was intended to help (inexperienced/newb gamers who are just interested in the IP) because the learning curve is still too steep for folks not used to having to manipulate the camera manually. Newbie gamers tend to hover their thumb over the face buttons (instead of the right stick - which contols camera) which leads to them getting into situations with a disadvantageous camera angle. More experienced shooter/action-adventure gamers keep their thumb resting on the right thumbstick in order to fluidly move/aim/look.

I tend to evaluate platformers in terms of:

  • IP (am I interested in the content)
  • Puzzle solving (am I mentally challenged without being frustrated)
  • Visceral smashy smashy (do I get to break lots of things in spectacular ways)
  • Engaging combat (variety of weapons to encourage rock-paper-scissors combat puzzle solving)
  • Story (is it a platform-adventure game or an action-adventure game with platform elements)
So, Ratchet & Clank: Future tools of destruction rules my world (even though the most recent incarnation was probably the weakest in the series) because I love the IP and there is a ton of visceral smashy smashy. Combat was pretty good (in my mind). Story and puzzle solving are a little on the weak side, but totally outweighed by the rest.

I had a feeling that Simpsons will simply provide a cool IP experience with fun smashy-smashy, reasonable combat and story -- and so far this is exactly what I'm getting from it, which is great.

Then again, I rented it ;)

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