We ranked every fictional video game featured in The Simpsons. Why? Because lockdown does funny things. It changes you.
From the over-the-top 80s action of McBain movies to the legitimately brilliant Planet of the Apes – the musical, not the planet – The Simpsons has parodied a wide array of 20th/21st century pop culture. But as you can (hopefully) tell by the name and content of the site, we’re here to talk games.
There has been a lot of video game-related stuff on the show over the years, from parodies to completely fictional games – check out some great Nintendo references here – but what if these fictional games were real? What if we had access to a certain slipper-wearing Professor from the year 3000’s fabled ‘What If’ machine?
We’ve scoured 31 years of history to bring you a ranking of every fictional game in The Simpsons.
Disclaimer: Only games that have clear footage and a name have been included. That sadly means no Nuke Canada, no Assassins Creed Summer of Love, or the retro game Bart plays with Grandpa. Zii Sports and Dance Dance Evolution weren’t included either as they are too close to their real-world counterparts.
So join us as we rank the various fictional games in The Simpsons as if they were real.
40. Billy Graham’s Bible Blaster
A fun retro curiosity, but considering this deposited some cash into Billy Graham’s heavenly bank account, let’s just move on.
39. Word Jammers
Take my word for it, this game is definitely not your jam.
38. Astro Blast
It doesn’t take an astrophysicist to work out that this game is a ripoff of Asteroids.
37. Kevin Costner’s Waterworld
More like Dull-as-Dishwaterworld and a rip-off to boot. A game to avoid.
36. Bowling 2000
Having 2000 in the title doesn’t do much for this mediocre Gameboy bowling game.
35. Frosty The Hitman
The only hit you’ll get with this game is the road.
34. Mixed Martian Arts
This game doesn’t have anything positive to say about it to warrant the “mixed Martian bag” joke I so desperately wanted to say.
33. Grand Theft Walrus
I am the egg man. They are the egg men. I am the Grand Theft Walrus (an insignificant game not worth remembering). Amazing how many of these titles are built purely around a pun, isn’t it?
32. Low-Blow Boxing
As entertaining as giving yourself a low blow. Maybe less so.
31. Fruit Shoot
A simplistic light gun game that’s not worth one of your five a day.
30. Rocky III vs Clara Peller
Why does this game exist? The only adequate answer I can come up with is so that I could write the following sentence: Clara Peller found her beef… and it’s with Sylvester Stallone.
29. Baby Blast
Nintendo tried to nuke this unlicensed baby boomer from orbit, but alas failed. It lives on through various Gameboy emulators.
28. The Iceman Killeth
Met with an icy reception when it released on the Xbox 360, it’s best to give this abominable snowman FPS the cold shoulder and move on.
27. Marching Band
After the success of Guitar Hero and Rockband, Activision stumped the world with Marching Band. The E3 reveal is still one of the most baffling moments of the trade shows history, up there with Mr Caffeine and the vitality sensor.
26. Dash Dingo
Dash Dingo ate my Crystal Baby. That’s all you need to know about this average 3D platformer that belongs with the rest of the Z-list heroes from the fifth generation. Maybe in an upside-down Downunderverse, Dash was as successful as his bandicoot brethren, but sadly, not in our world.
25. Tandem Bike Ride With Your Mum
Released on the ill-fated Gizmondo handheld console – and if you can get past the just passable gameplay – Tandem Bike Ride With Your Mum earns some respect for including a mother into a medium that favours fathers.
The old arcade game Stickball would be a good candidate for a modern-day remake. Imagine a fully realised downtown New York that replicates the feeling of playing street baseball with a ragtag selection of neighbourhood kids.
23. Plague Station 3
Much like how the 2003 third-person shooter Armed and Dangerous is only remembered for the gun that shoots land sharks, Plague Station 3 will only be remembered for the gun that shoots monkeys that claw at the enemies face.
22. Waltz Waltz Revolution
Although not very successful, the using of a dance mat to teach actual dancing was a novel idea.
21. Bar Brawl 4: Final Fracas
The only memorable aspect of Bar Brawl 4 is that it introduced a slipping mechanic into a fighting game a full year before Super Smash Bros Brawl would do the same. Was Sakurai inspired by this game? Anything is possible.
20. Halloween Hit & Run
Halloween Hit & Run is what happens when you take the infamous hit and run scene from Troma’s Toxic Avenger and make a whole game out of it. Not to be confused with the Halloween level from the not-in-universe Simpsons Hit and Run.
19. Cat Fight
In spite of all the stereotypes this game perpetuates (and some rather questionable language) it contains far less sexualisation of women than your typical fighting game, and as a result, must be commended.
18. Virtual Doctor
Released for PC in 2000, Virtual Doctor was a passion project of Yuji Hori, the creator of Dragon Quest. Unfortunately for Hori, Virtual Doctor was a huge failure and coupled with the delays of Dragon Quest VII and later Dragon Quest Monsters 2, left publisher Enix badly bruised. Thankfully, the merger with Square Soft in 2003 allowed Enix to recover – just what the (virtual) doctor ordered.
17. Earthland Realms
Unless someone asks you for a much better alternative, the MMORPG Earthland Realms will not make you say “wow.”
16. Cereal Killer
Have you ever felt the need to take out your anger on a bunch of whimsical breakfast cereal mascots? If so, then Cereal Killer is the game for you. It’s also the only FPS (out of barely 20) on Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance that lets you wield two weapons at the same time. How’s that for going against the grain?
15. Triangle Wars
An ingenious blend of Asteroids and Tetris, Triangle Wars had a surprisingly deep plot. The three warring factions of the Isosceles, the Equilateral and the Scalene all attempting to reach the furthest point of the Euclidean Galaxy to ascend to the realm of higher dimensional beings, the Simplex.
14. Death Kill City II: Death Kill Stories
Usually abbreviated as DKC (and confused with a certain Nintendo 2D platformer series) Death Kill Stories II is known for its shocking plot twist. In an attempt to out edgy its rivals, the first level in DKC II destroys all life on earth. A race of vampiric robo-mutants arise from the depths of the ruined earth and become your next target. Considering the first DKC was simply a GTA clone, this new post-apocalyptic setting was a nice change of pace.
13. Hockey Dad
Probably the only hockey/fighting game hybrid in existence, Hockey Dad should be applauded for its genre-defying antics – oh and introducing drunken dad Chuck Shadowski into the pantheon of great games characters.
12. Guts of War II: Entrails of Intestinox
After God of War 2 director Cory Balrog left Santa Monica Studio to hone his craft on his creative walkabout, he was asked to work on the sequel to Guts of War. Originally hesitant to work on a franchise so similar to his previous work, he came to the conclusion that the intestinal weapons of Guts of War protagonist, Kranus, were different enough to give the game its own personality. Entrails of Intestinox was fairly well-received but criticised for its notorious short length and for allegations of a strenuous crunch period the developers went through.
11. Escape from Grandma’s House
It’s rumoured that Escape From Grandma’s House was the inspiration behind Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis. Capcom has yet to confirm this.
10. Yard Work Simulator
The original plans for Yard Work Simulator included far more controllers than the final product’s garden shears and rake controllers. One can only imagine what the planned wheelbarrow, garden hose and long-handled spade shovel controllers would’ve brought to this fairly simple virtual reality experiment. (And how much landfill they would’ve produced, like so many Wii peripherals and plastic guitars.)
9. Panamanian Strongman
A peculiar arcade game where you try to keep balance on top of a skyscraper whilst fending off the US Military’s fighter planes. Kojima, take note: This is how you integrate a fun balance mechanic into your game.
8. Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge
Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge was one of the few games to have its cartridge enhanced by the 3F07 chip. This allowed the game to have an abundance of digitised voice clips recorded by Lee Carvallo himself. By no means the best golf game of this era, it was unique in that it felt like Carvallo was right there in your living room, helping you perfect your swing with his insightful suggestions.
What seemed like a death knell – releasing at the same time as the mighty Bonestorm – was actually a surprising boon. Many a parent opted for Carvallo as a runner-up prize when they realised that Bonestorm would be sold out long through the Christmas period.
7. Larry the Looter
Before Grand Theft Auto, there was Larry the Looter. A fairly difficult arcade loot ‘em up, you’ll have to have fast reactions to avoid the shotgun blasts of the poor shopkeepers protecting their property. The genius of Larry the Looter though, was it’s lack of exposition; it never bores the player with an explanation of why Larry’s world was tormented by mass riots and instead leaves this to the player’s imagination. You dropped into this mad world as your primal instincts kick in and force you to stick it to the man.
6. Disembowler IV
Much like how Luigi’s Mansion originally started out as a fishing game prototype, so too did Disembowler IV. After the success of Doom and Mortal Kombat in the early 90s, many companies tried to cash in on this violent video game craze, and Disembowler IV was born. The eponymous rusty hooks that the cast of convicted criminals use are a callback to the game’s origin. Don’t be fooled by the sneaky Roman numerals, however – there was no Disembowler I, II and III. This was merely a marketing gimmick that actually led to significant sales.
5. Touch of Death
Initiate the dreaded ‘Touch of Death’ and exorcise the ghost from your beaten enemies corpse in this classic arcade fighter. Touch of Death’s popularity was due to it’s simple yet accessible control scheme with its three attack buttons – oh, and ninjas. Everyone loves ninjas. Although Touch of Death has a reputation as a Mortal Kombat klone, it actually released two years before the first Mortal Kombat.
4. Super Slugfest
In a lot of ways, Super Slugfest was superior to Nintendo’s Punch-Out!! – just take one look at the graphics – but a lack of celebrity endorsement meant it was always second fiddle. Mike Tyson carried Punch-Out!! to incredible success, which was a shame for Super Slugfest as it had a highly entertaining multiplayer mode that its Nintendo counterpart lacked.
3. My Dinner with Andre
The phrase “ahead of its time” has been overused aplenty, but the licensed video game adaptation of Louis Malle’s 1981 classic My Dinner with Andre is undoubtedly ahead of its time. In an era where a film would translate into a 2D run-and-gun or beat ‘em up, the ambitious developers of My Dinner With Andre explored new territory with this interactive dialogue pioneer that predates Mass Effect, Telltale, games and various immersive and dating sims. “Tell me more” indeed.
2. Escape From Death Row
It should come as no surprise that Escape From Death Row was made by the same developers as Larry the Looter. You can see their anti-establishment DNA all over Death Row, from the prison escape scenario to a conservative judge as an antagonist you must overcome. Although the platforming was fairly weak compared to its contemporaries, the ‘change of venue’ system was an interesting mechanic that gave the player a risky last-ditch effort if they felt there time was nearly up.
The iconic fighting game that sent many a parent/guardian to hell with its boisterous “Buy me Bonestorm or go to Hell!” marketing campaign, Bonestorm led to a gory Christmas for many in 1995. As the name suggests, Bonestorm is a cacophony of blood and guts and probably the best Mortal Kombat klone in existence (sorry, Killer Instinct). The only blemish on this ultra-violent fighting game is the archaic eight-letter limit for choosing a name.
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