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The Simpsons Hit & Run: The Mind-blowing Story About How The Best GTA Clone Was Created In The PS2 Era

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

There are certain titles that I would not include in a list of my favorite games but that constantly return to my head accompanied by fond memories. It is curious that, 18 years later, there is not a year in which I don’t remember The Simpsons Hit & Run.

The last time was last week and, since then, I have been reviewing the amazing story of its development despite having everything against it, in what situation the game’s fandom is now and, above all, why we have not yet experienced a remake or sequel to the best Simpsons game ever created.

The Simpsons: Crazy Taxi Edition

Although it was in the early 90s when the success of the series generated an avalanche of titles focused on the franchise – generally revolving around Bart for that of claiming the attention of children – in the early 2000s The Simpsons lived a second youth that resulted in another good handful of games.

Playing all the possible sticks was the game about the Halloween episodes, the Simpsons go to the bowling alley, the fighting, the skateboarding … But among all of them there is one that seems to shine with a special light, earning no only the obligatory PS2 appearance of the time, but also on GameCube, Xbox and Game Boy Advance: The Simpsons: Road Rage.

Following in the wake of Crazy Taxi and its meteoric rise in arcade games, Dreamcast, and that same 2001 also on PS2 and GameCube, Radical Entertainment grabbed a burning nail and a guaranteed success. One that, shortly after and for obvious reasons, would be worth a lawsuit by SEGA for patent infringement.

Imagine how much the story could have been twisted if that had not been fixed before reaching the court with an agreement of which the details were never revealed.

But no, none of that prevented the creators of other mythical games of those years such as Jackie Chan Stuntmaster, or the formidable The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, from leaving the experiment on their shoulders. In fact, they even earned the chance to return to work on one more game in the franchise.

Making the easy difficult

With the medal for being the only studio able to take advantage of the license under conditions from Fox Interactive and EA, Radical Entertainment is considering going headlong for an even more ambitious Road Rage sequel.

However, no good story worth its salt is settled without its share of scares and tension, and that of The Simpsons Hit & Run was not going to be less. Fox Interactive is in one of those moments in which it has more desire than money to be able to cast a cable, so it is time to go in search of a distributor to formalize the miracle.

The decision seems clear, to go to his old dance partner so that EA can reap the benefits of the collaboration and the idea, but when they knock on its door they claim to be to other things and, although the project seems tempting.

In the absence of a somersault more capable of getting Radical Entertainment to fear the worst, after two years working on the project and looking for who can help them get it done, Fox sells its video game company, along with all its staff and licenses, to the Vivendi Universal Games’ entrepreneurial Frankenstein, famous for medium-sized hits such as The Hobbit or Buffy video games.

What seems like the worst possible scenario soon ends with a generous miracle that completely changes the situation. Not only do all the parties involved decide to go all out with the project, they will also give them more time and money to carry it out. What can a studio that has spent months seeing the wolf’s ears do with that gift? Exactly, come completely up.

From Road Rage to The Simpsons Hit & Run

What a priori aimed to be a sequel focused on Road Rage mechanics but with more polished control, and a larger city similar to the series Springfield, soon becomes one of those challenges that, under the guise of the “What if…?” turns completely in the other direction.

The more time and money, the more possibilities, so with the Crazy Taxi fever more than burned, they decide to jump into the next genre that was hitting it at the time: the open-world catapulted by GTA 3 and all the clone games they tried to copy the formula on PS2.

The new Simpsons game will continue to focus on driving but will offer an open world with different areas and characters that will allow you to get out of the car to overcome platform areas hit other characters and, of course, enjoy the interiors of the mythical city by Matt Groening.

With seven different levels, a good handful of collectibles, costumes for its protagonists, and a string of curiosities and Easter eggs in the form of characters, vehicles and details that adorned its virtual Springfield, The Simpsons Hit & Run has just become the perfect game for fans.

Not only that, Radical Entertainment is honored to have cooked up unprecedented success within the franchise in record time. The Simpsons Hit & Run is the most celebrated game in the history of the saga, and one of the games that have delivered the most benefits to its creators behind Tapped Out.

The Simpsons Hit & Run 2 That Never Was

After a bombshell of that category, with more than three million copies distributed around the world, Radical won the right to work on any other license in the hands of Vivendi, but of course, they also planned the sequel to Hit & Run which, back then, we all took it for granted.

Unfortunately, the video game industry would have prepared a much more bitter end to that idea and, aware of the mistake they had made and the opportunity that was on the table with the arrival of the Simpsons movie, at EA they took over the rights to create the next video game in the franchise.

The result was a The Simpsons: Game that reached all possible platforms reaping a notable success in sales, but that was far from marking us with the same force of Hit & Run. After that, The Simpsons were relegated to the mobile gaming market.

Radical was forced to look the other way and move on on much more timid licensing and hits, but the mix of deals and acquisitions carried the studio away nine years after one of its most memorable releases.

As luck would have it, The Simpsons Hit & Run also landed on PC as well as consoles, which over time has allowed the game to stay alive thanks to the community, based on mods that unite all its levels or provide graphical improvements. It’s not the ending we expected for such a beloved game, but at least we’re glad to know that it’s still alive in a sense.

Image Credit: iStock

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