Tag Archive: fox

Simpsons did it

We all know by now that taking a movie, TV show, or comic book and trying to turn it into a game rarely works. More often than not, it ends up being a huge mess that neither fans nor developers end up happy with. Occasionally, though, someone hits it out of the park and the risk pays off. One media property that’s still trying to hit gaming gold is Family Guy.

We’d rather sweep games like Back to the Multiverse under the rug than celebrate them, so Fox looked to change the series’ digital luck like they did with the Griffins’ Animation Domination cohorts, the Simpsons, and Tapped Out. Instead of EA Mobile, Fox tapped (no pun intended) TinyCo, the creator of TinyMonsters, to bring the mobile digital revolution to Quahog. Instead of breaking new ground, though, they simply decided to retread what’s already been done over in Springfield.

Right from the get-go, you can tell that Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is a carbon copy of The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Sure, some minor tweaks are present, like the story and characters obviously tailored to fit Family Guy, but starting with Peter and Ernie the Giant Chicken destroying Quahog in their latest brawl the same way that Homer destroyed Springfield by letting the power plant have a meltdown, this is just another free-to-play city builder with some Sunday-night flair.

The gameplay consists of rebuilding Quahog in any way you deem fit. You’ll be laying down roads, rebuilding houses and businesses from the show, and sending your favorite characters off to do various tasks in an attempt to earn currency to build up Quahog bigger and better than it was before. If you don’t want to wait for an hour for Chris to finish picking his nose or six hours for Mort to do Peter’s taxes, you can use real-world cash to buy premium currency or “clams” to make everyone almost instantaneously finish what they’re doing. The app also features a social aspect (explained as being part of Stewie’s multiverse) where you can invite your Facebook friends to join—and, if they do, you can visit their unique Quahogs and earn extra money and XP.

The payoff of hoarding cash and visiting friends is hopefully forwarding the “story” of rebuilding Quahog and unlocking some original animation and dialogue. The humor here is definitely a bright spot if you love the show, and Quest for Stuff even introduces its own set of zany, one-off characters, but I would’ve loved some more voice acting besides the prerecorded one-liners that get repeated constantly.

A major difference between Quest for Stuff and that other Fox animated-sitcom-inspired city builder is that each character also has bonus costumes that give them a new set of actions. Performing specific activities or having particular buildings also gives you bonuses to unlock even more costumes. Peter dressing as a “lady of the night,” Quagmire stripping down to a Speedo, and Lois going commando (not that kind of commando—like a soldier) are just some of the different outfits available.

Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff also tries harder not to turn into a game where you’re constantly waiting for quests to finish up. You rarely have to endure 12- and 24-hour tasks in order to finish quests that advance the game as you continue to unlock more of Quahog’s unique denizens and structures. This is a double-edged sword, though, since I also found that my Quahog got very cramped very quickly. I was constructing buildings faster than I was unlocking land—the exact opposite issue I often face in Tapped Out.

Despite the glaring lack of originality, The Quest for Stuff isn’t a bad game if you simply take it for what’s it worth: a free-to-play title that’s great for killing 5 to 10 minutes on your lunch break. But it won’t get you through a long plane flight. It won’t kill all that time wasted sitting at the DMV. It won’t get you through that boring meeting at work as you pretend to take notes on your iPad.

But dropping into your own digital Quahog for a couple of minutes a day will probably give you a much-needed chuckle as Bonnie twerks for way too long on a backyard stripper pole, Quagmire lets his pet gerbil loose, and Peter stuffs his face at the local burger joint. If you’re a fan of Family Guy (and considering you don’t have to spend any money on this), there are probably a lot worse things taking up space on your mobile device’s hard drive right now.

Developer: TinyCo • Publisher: TinyCo • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 04.10.14
The lack of originality is evident from the opening animation, but in small doses, The Quest for Stuff can provide fans of Family Guy a welcome chuckle here and there, and that makes it worth the free download.
The Good Captures the essence of the show’s humor.
The Bad A lack of originality; only good in short intervals.
The Ugly Meg.
Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is available on Android and iOS devices. Primary version reviewed was for iOS using an iPad 2. Review code was provided by TinyCo for the benefit of this review.

Not always lucky there’s a Family Guy

It’s never easy to capture the essence of a licensed product in a videogame. Sure, games like Batman: Arkham City show it can be done, but for every gem, you get South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, X-Men: Destiny, a half-dozen Simpsons titles (excluding Hit and Run), and the worst of them all, Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis (just beating out the equally awful Superman 64). So, when it came time for Family Guy to take another crack at a video game, six years after their first failure on the last console generation, it was hard not to think “Here we go again.”

Inspired by the Season 8 episode “Road to the Multiverse,” Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse centers around the machinations of an alternate universe incarnation of Bertram, Stewie’s evil half-brother who was destroyed in the main Family Guy universe episode “The Big Bang Theory.” This version of Bertram has built his own multiverse remote control and vowed revenge on Stewie for killing him in any universe. Knowing that their own vast multiverse experience makes them the only ones capable of putting a stop to the plan, the show’s beloved odd couple, Stewie and Brian, embark on a quest across 10 parallel dimensions to stop Bertram from putting together an unstoppable army that will squash the Griffin family once and for all.

As a fan of the show, I admit the premise sounded promising. When you consider that the plot was written by the Fuzzy Door writing staff and that everyone from the cartoon reprised their voice for the game, the story side of Back to the Multiverse didn’t worry me one bit. And it did, indeed, deliver in most instances, as there were many moments during the game’s cutscenes where I found myself laughing out loud as Brian and Stewie found themselves in a Pirate World, an Amish World, a world ruled by handicapped people, and much more.

Unfortunately, when it came to being a fleshed-out game, I found Back to the Multiverse lacking. The third-person shooter gameplay quickly became tedious as wave after wave of cookie-cutter enemies swarmed me in each level, yet still provided almost no challenge. Surprisingly, the handful of platforming obstacles in several levels—along with one very special level with Peter—provided some enjoyable variety to the grind of shooting everything in sight, but these brief departures from the blasting bonanza were too few and far between to save the game from becoming repetitive, dull, and simple.

The game is also extremely short and linear, and in order to try to cram in a couple extra hours of playtime, each level is littered with pointless item collection side quests that reward players with nothing but concept art and multiplayer skins. Somewhere between collecting my 10th wanted poster in the Amish world and my 7th handicap placard in the “Handicapable” level, I was already done with the hoarding.

And speaking of the multiplayer, what were developers Heavy Iron thinking by not making the co-op or versus modes online capable? The multiplayer suite here is impressive, with challenges, Deathmatch and CTF, a horde mode, and campaign co-op. Though far from revolutionary, Multiverse definitely has the potential to stand up to many other titles out there, but since all the modes are restricted to local play, they quickly lose their luster. The multiplayer levels, especially in Team Deathmatch, seem better designed for larger groups of players with their scope and size. With only up to four people locally, everyone is constantly wandering around, desperate for someone to shoot. I appreciate local play as an option, but it just doesn’t work well as the only option, not in this day and age.

In the end, this game is like many of those other licensed products that have come before it. There’s a very solid core here, with the visuals and the humorous writing capturing the animated heart of the show. If the fat from the single player had been cut out so there was only maybe only five or six more polished and varied levels, I could see this being a great downloadable or budget title in the $20-30 price range. For a full $60 though, Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is far too flawed to be worth it for all but the most passionate (and delusional) of Family Guy fans, as this falls into place with the rest of the long list of other mediocre adapted media property video games out there.

SUMMARY: A solid comedic core cannot save what becomes tedious gameplay as you move through the 10 different dimensions of the Multiverse. Throw in the mind-boggling lack of online multiplayer for a suite that clearly could have benefited from it, and Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse should only appeal to fanatics of the FOX animated sitcom.

  • THE GOOD: Much of the game captures the humor of the show.
  • THE BAD: No online multiplayer, tedious side quests.
  • THE UGLY: Amish women. What? It’s not like they’re going to read this on the Internet or something.

SCORE: 5.5

Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360. 

Lucky there’s a family guy!

Note: Some language used may seem offensive, but it comes directly from the game and TV show and should be taken in context of such. 

When we first learned that we would be getting a full-fledged Family Guy game for consoles, all us fans of the hit animated sitcom jumped for joy. And when we learned it would revolve around the idea of Brian and Stewie bouncing around parallel dimensions once again like the classic Season 8 episode that introduced the Multiverse, we were ready to crack open a Pawtucket Patriot Ale and start playing.

Obviously, we’re still a couple months away from release though, so you can imagine how we’ve been chomping at the bit to see more of this game, especially after our brief view of the Amish level at E3 only whetted our appetites. So, when given the chance to hop on the Family Guy bus at San Diego ComicCon to see another new dimension, how could we refuse?

The level we saw, the third of the game’s ten dimensions the game will ship with, is a world where cripples are in charge. Every parking spot is handicapped, all sidewalks have ramps, and everyone rides the short bus (which also happens to spawn enemies from). And of course, Joe Swanson is something of a big deal here.  In fact, the menacing ‘Crippletron’ from the infamous “No Meals on Wheels” episode returns with Joe taking his prime spot once again as the head of this monstrosity comprised of hundreds of wheelchair bound enemies.

In terms of the game play, we saw Brian and Stewie effortlessly switch back and forth in mid-level to rain death and destruction upon those who traded in their crutches (one of them anyway) for AK-47s and others who had outfitted their wheelchairs with rockets to reach true ramming speed while carrying guns or clubs of their own.

Luckily, Brian and Stewie have plenty of tricks of their own up their not paralyzed sleeves. We saw everything from sniper rifles, assault rifles, automatic shotguns, flamethrowers, and laser blasters, all of which could be upgraded by earning cash from causing destruction in the environment and laying waste to your enemies. We also saw a variety of special items on the game’s item wheel, including golden eggs that hatch into fighting chickens and Stewie’s patented diaper grenade, to help Brian and Stewie move their way through these new and unusual worlds while also paying their own little tribute to some of the TV series’ best episodes.

One of the nicest things we saw with the demo though was how in just a short month the game’s look and feel seems to be a lot cleaner and crisper than the demo we saw at E3. And when you combine that look which falls directly in line with that of the show, some solid third-person shooter action, and some absolutely hysterical writing, as the game is being written by the folks at Fuzzy Door and everything is approved by Seth MacFarlane himself, its very easy to see how fans of Family Guy should start getting excited about this game. The only question now is what other dimensions besides the Amish and Handicapable worlds will Brian and Stewie travel to? We’ll just have to wait until September to find out.

It’s FREE-kin’ Sweet!

Brian and Stewie’s adventures in the multiverse. Peter versus the giant chicken. The greased up deaf guy. These are just some of the hysterical moments we think of when we think of Family Guy. Now, in its 10th season and with nearly 200 episodes under it’s belt, including several seasonal and movie based spoofs, it is time for our favorite family from Quahog to invade the digital realm in a way, well, you just might not be ready for.

Family Guy Online looks to immerse you in the world of the animated sitcom in ways you never thought possible by actually putting you inside of Quahog as its newest resident alongside the Griffins. Dubbing itself a Free-to-play ‘MMLOL game’ (Massively multiplayer laugh-out-loud), you’ll get to choose from four classes stemming from the main members of the family (for a small fee you can also unlock the ‘Brian the Dog’ class). There’s the Peter class representing your tanks, the Lois class representing healers, the Meg/Chris teenager class representing your brawlers, and the Stewie class representing your rogue class. And you can customize them to look as outrageous or mundane as you want with chances to unlock more costume parts by completing quests that tie directly into the show.

And the quests are really what will make Family Guy Online stand out. Helping various characters from the show that act as your NPC quest givers, you try to impress the almighty Mayor Adam West in trying to be the best Quahog citizen possible. And if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll want to do every quest as not only does it help you towards the overall end goal of the game, but each quest has unique dialogue performed by the actual cast of the show as well clips that set up each quest to let you know just what episode this task was inspired by. Plus, Adam West serves as your overall narrator and as long as they keep making Family Guy episodes, you can bet there is a good chance to see the game expand later on.

Not to mention, it wouldn’t be Family Guy if you didn’t have insane non-sequiturs. We were able to go hands-on with the first handful of quests available in the game (including trying to set the fastest time record for catching greased up deaf guy, or just smashing Peter’s collection of Trashmen records…we get it…the bird is the word) and after getting over the fact that we were exploring locations like The Griffin’s House or The Drunken Clam, there were literally hundreds of random things in the world to interact with that had nothing to do with the task at hand, like pulling a midget from a well. Just another normal day in Quahog for sure.

What might be the nicest aspect of the game though is that even with (hopefully) a ton of other players online is that the guys from Roadhouse Interactive, the main developers behind Family Guy Online, are trying to craft a personal experience for each player as well as a social one.

“So your first quest when you enter the game is to talk to Peter Griffin. Pretty easy, I know, but we want to hand hold you a little in the beginning. But when you talk to Peter, he actually gets up and out of his lawn chair that he’s lounging in, and talks directly to you. We’re doing some pretty amazing things from a technology standpoint in terms of instantiation for gamers, so even though there are multiple people in the world who may be talking to Peter there, you’ll still see him get up and out of the chair only for you. And this is important to us because the source material, Family Guy, is so character driven. So instead of him just standing there with a question mark over his head, we created a way for the characters to react and engage you specifically and we think that will help the gamer and their created character feel important,” says Roadhouse Interactive Co-Founder and CCO Ian Verchere.

After our brief sojourn in the virtual Quahog, we sadly had to bid farewell, but what we saw had us very excited. The class system is something that MMO fans will immediately be able to recognize and the attacks fit each character class perfectly as we fought off enemies that made sense to the world and quests before us. And when you mix a great looking, fully realized 3D Quahog with solid controls and the classic humor of Family Guy, I think it’s going to be hard for fans not to embrace this digital world when the open beta launches on April 17th, especially considering its F2P status.

Doin’ The Bartman

The Simpsons Arcade Game was the first video game to feature our favorite family fivesome of yellow beings, all the way back in 1991, and would pave the way for classic console games like Bart vs. The World and Bart’s Nightmare, not to mention the franchise’s more recent console iterations. It also would help Konami pull off a string of arcade hits based on licensed products with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time and The X-Men Arcade Game following soon after. But for many of us, this cabinet was what introduced us to the Simpson clan, the side-scrolling beat ‘em up, and the concept of literally pouring quarters down the gullet of a machine whose A.I. at the time wasn’t considered “unforgiving” as much as it was the “norm”. And so looking to cash in on that nostalgia factor for those of us who grew up in the arcade, Konami has re-released The Simpsons Arcade Game for XBLA and PSN.

The game opens up with the Simpsons walking through Springfield one day when Waylon Smithers, for some unknown reason, is stealing a massive diamond for his already wealthy billionaire boss, Charles Montgomery Burns. Smithers, in his haste, bumps into the Simpsons and Maggie, the youngest of the Simpsons, catches the diamond that Smithers drops, and so Smithers snatches Maggie as well. Here you get to choose to be one of the remaining Simpsons as you chase down Smithers over the course of eight levels that take you all over Springfield in the hopes of saving your sister/daughter.

The action is your standard arcade fair of the early 90s with one button serving as your jump, another as your attack, and by pressing them in succession you can pull off a jump kick. Aside from this, there really isn’t much else to the game play. Lisa wields a jump rope as her weapon of choice and is surprisingly probably the best offensive character. Bart is the fastest wielding his skateboard. Marge has the most range with her vacuum cleaner. And Homer is the most well rounded as he uses his fists, feet, and general bulk to get the job done.

After playing through the game on XBLA a half-dozen times, the first times I’ve played the game in almost a decade and a half, I have to question my younger self’s memory, or at least his taste. The most glaring flaw with the game, which is evident throughout and the main flaw that holds its back, is the hit boxes the game provides. Often never being able to line up your characters perfectly for an attack, you have to either be above or below your foes when attacking to do any damage, often completely obscuring your characters when taking on the massive level bosses. Of course, Konami fixed this in later arcade games, but this made coordinating an attack more difficult than necessary as I had to get up close and personal to my enemies, often taking just as much damage as I dished out and making me realize that it wasn’t the A.I. that was difficult as much as some technical shortcomings that Konami still hasn’t fixed in this particular title even after all these years.

The Simpsons Arcade Game, like many licensed games back then, is also so loosely based on the franchise that hardcore fans of the TV show will likely just start laughing as they continue to progress through the game as Moe’s Tavern is located under a graveyard, which is also next to Krustyland. And then of course having all The Simpsons fly on screen like superheroes after every life, which only really makes sense for Bart, or Mr. Burns for some reason being a 7-ft. tall behemoth when you face him finally in the nuclear power plant, and clearly Konami was not set on sticking to the brand when it came to making their game.

I think really the most disappointing thing about the game is the lack of extra features you get with it though. You’d think that after 20 years, we could at least get a graphics upgrade like TMNT: Turtles in Time: Re-Shelled that would have fixed the hit boxes. But aside from access to the Japanese ROM of the game, or the 4-player mayhem you might be able to have if you have a few nostalgic feeling friends, this is one arcade game that just hasn’t stood the test of time. Only the most nostalgic of arcade dwellers should drop the full $10 (800 MSP, 40 quarters) on this, otherwise, I’d try to wait to see if The Simpsons Arcade Game goes on sale at some point in the future before making my purchase.

SUMMARY: The nostalgia factor will drive many to want to purchase this, but numerous flaws, possibly covered up the first time around by childhood innocence, and a lack of extra features should have you waiting for this to go on sale first.

  • THE GOOD: Nostalgia factor is through the roof for veterans of the quarter gobbling arcade cabinet
  • THE BAD: Poor hit boxes makes us question what we loved about the game in the first place
  • THE UGLY: Dancing thriller-zombies in the graveyard level

SCORE: 6.0

The Simpsons Arcade Game is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA) and PS3 (PSN). Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.

Originally Published: November 23, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed The Simpsons Game for the Nintendo Wii from EA.

Originally Published: April 28, 2010, on Lundberg.me, PlayerAffinity.com, Original-Gamer.com, and Examiner.com

After News Corporation/Fox did not renew Peter Chernin’s contract last June, the veteran media industry executive continued on his own right where he left off. Starting with the formation of his own production company, Chernin has been working non-stop coming up with new ideas and properties and when you’re credited by many as the reason all of Fox’s cable networks are a success, your ideas usually carry a bit of weight with them.

One of these new ideas has been brought to light now as Chernin met with Microsoft executives a couple of weeks ago. The idea? An exclusive Xbox Live TV network.

Bloomberg News reported last week that in his meeting at Microsoft headquarters up in Washington, Chernin had suggested creating an entire TV network centered on the core of Xbox gamers. This 18-34 male demographic focused network would be distributed through Xbox Live. Chernin also discussed that it would likely cost users an extra $1-$2 per month ($12-$24 per year) to keep the station up and running and that he would co-own the rights with Microsoft.

With music, movies, and TV shows already being downloaded en masse by gamers online, an entire channel could be the next likely step in media evolution as we become more and more dependent on our game systems for various forms of content besides games. The big questions that immediately come to mind though are: what actual programming could we see on the channel and would Xbox Live users be willing to pay another $20 a year on top of the $60 they are already dropping on the online service?

In terms of content production, I have faith that Chernin already has several ideas for shows and programming, especially since his sons are writers for such shows as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Not to mention that it would not be hard to get distribution rights for shows like “Pure Pwnage” and that Microsoft already has their own shows like “The Guild” and “Red vs. Blue”. If anything, this would spark an even greater independent creative drive for the system.

The biggest problems would come from the price raise. Personally, raising my Xbox Live bill by 25% would not be something I would be thrilled about, but in the end would be something I end up paying for because the service is just too crucial to me enjoying the system. I know many gamers who would not bend so easily though. A possible solution could be having third party developers help to fit the bill, especially those that rely on online content as much as we rely on playing it. This could have other ramifications though like seeing the rise of software prices so this also seems unlikely.

With Microsoft and Chernin refusing to comment on the meeting at the moment, only time will tell if XBOX-TV will become a reality. Microsoft has always tried to be at the forefront of new and exciting media, but if isn’t cost effective for the consumer, this may be one idea that is never realized.