At Replay Lincoln Park, there’s always one game that, no matter how busy we are, is always packed with people waiting their turn to play — at least, when they’re not up at the bar grabbing a drink. For some reason, The Simpsons Arcade Game has a magnetic attraction for fans of the show, fans of arcade beat-em-ups, fans of competition, and fans of 90’s nostalgia. The Simpsons Arcade Game, back when it was released in 1991, was notorious. Arcade games of the era were designed to suck every last quarter of unsuspecting kids, and The Simpsons Arcade Game was so fun, so frustrating, and so charming that — if you’re anything like us — it would drain your of your lunch money before too long. So, as a tribute to this wonderful game, why not take a deep dive with us and learn why the game was so ubiquitous and great?
The Simpsons Arcade Game: A Brief History
The Simpsons Arcade Game was released in 1991 — which was incredible timing for Konami, the game’s publisher. Thanks to arcade games like Street Fighter II, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and Captain Commando, the arcade boom was still going strong. In addition, it’s an open secret among Simpsons fans that the show was at its very, very best in the early ’90s. This created a perfect storm for a new challenger in the arcade space.
Developer Acclaim tried to capture lightning in a bottle earlier by releasing Bart Vs. The Space Mutants for the NES, but the game was widely panned because it was poorly conceived and, critically, not all that fun. So when Konami announced that it would be throwing its hat in the ring, it was a risk. It would be the second-ever Simpsons video game, after all!
The Simpsons Arcade Game, however, would be developed and produced by Konami, a heavyweight of the arcade industry with plenty of experience adapting TV shows and movies into quarter-sucking arcade games. Crucially, Konami decided to model The Simpsons Arcade Game after another successful arcade game that they also made — the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.
The mold made sense, especially since a major gripe with Bart Vs. The Space Mutants was the fact that you couldn’t play as any of the other members of the Simpsons family. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gave Konami a framework to create an arcade beat-em-up with support for four players, each of whom would play as a distinct character with (slightly) different abilities.
The Simpsons Arcade Game would build on the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by adding other innovations. Remember those weird balloon minigames at the end of certain levels, where you would compete with your friends to see who could pop the balloon fastest? Or those awesome tag team attacks that required players to actually (gasp!) cooperate to pull them off?
All of this, combined with The Simpsons Arcade’s great visual design, made the game absolutely irresistible — both in its heyday and today at arcades, bowling alleys, and barcades across the globe. And if you’ve ever played it, you know how dangerous that made the game for your wallet. Like other beat-em-ups of the day, the concept of “fairness” was a foreign one to Konami. Bosses didn’t telegraph their moves, making it all but impossible to conserve lives (and therefore, quarters) in order to make it further.
WIN a Tabletop Simpsons Arcade Game at Replay Lincoln Park’s Charity Raffle!
The only way to truly appreciate the game without the risk of blowing your entire savings on it, therefore, is to find a place like Replay Lincoln Park, where the game is set to free play, or spend a couple thousand bucks and buy your own. Luckily, we’re here to help with that last part.
Visit Replay Lincoln Park on Wednesday, November 28th to join us for our charity raffle, where we’ll be giving away an honest-to-goodness tabletop version of the Simpsons arcade game to a lucky winner! You won’t want to miss it.
We’ve taught you how to get good at Skeeball. We’ve taught you how to beat your friends at air hockey. We’ve even taught you how to take your pinball game to the next level. Well, now it’s time to put all your skills to the test. Sure, you’ve wiped the floor with your friends, but now, a new challenger approaches.
Beat The Pros at Replay Lincoln Park
Here’s the deal, you intrepid video game gladiators. On the last Thursday of every month, the video game aficionados at Replay will be putting their pride (and prizes) on the line by taking on all comers. If you can beat our scores, you’ll not only get bragging rights, but you’ll be getting a cool $25 off your bar tab for the night for your trouble. But don’t for a second think that it’s going to be easy. You may have heard of the Elite Four — we only need three to defend our honor. Meet Replay Lincoln Park’s Elite Trio.
Mark, The Galaga Master
Oh, you think you’re “pretty good” at staving off the alien menace in Galaga? You can “like, sometimes” get the double shot powerup, and you made it to the bonus stage “that one time”? One piece of advice for you: Don’t even try.
Mark, Replay’s owner, has been honing his craft on Galaga cabinets for decades, and has been protecting our world from the alien onslaught better than Ripley, Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and Arnold Schwarzenegger combined. Just to give you a sense of how ridiculous a score of nearly 400,000 in Galaga is — given the pace at which most people play the game, you’d have to stay alive (and continue scoring big) for around 25 minutes to even have a chance at cracking that score.
Carlo, The Pinball Wizard
Score: 575,867,710 (Ghostbusters Pinball)
If you’re looking to flex your flipper fingers, Carlo’s nine-figure score on Ghostbusters pinball is the score to beat. And lest you think this is an easy feat, according to Pinside’s pinball archive, Carlo’s confirmed score is one of the top 100 scores on this table world-freaking-wide.
Sure, you might not be ‘fraid of no ghosts, but I wouldn’t blame you if that score has you quaking in your boots.
David, The Air Hockey Assassin
Air Hockey Mastery Level: Ludicrous
Listen, we did our best. We really did. We gave you all our tips and tricks to help you up your air hockey game. But we’re sorry to say — it’s not going to be enough.
For those of you who are brave enough to take on one of the Replay Elite Trio head on, ask your bartender for David. You’ll know him by the fiery look in his eyes, and by the fact that you’ve already pretty much lost the air hockey match to him.
Rules and Regulations
Obviously, this is serious business for us. Our pride is on the line. So there are a few rules you’ll need to follow. First of all, as always, no game-hogging. Second of all, we’re only taking on these challenges on the last Thursday of the month — if you topple our scores on another day, tough luck. Third, we will need confirmation if you have beaten any of these high scores. Luckily, we all have tiny devices in our pockets and purses that are just perfect for this sort of thing. If you’ve beaten our scores at any of these games, or if you manage to triumph over David in air hockey, just snap a picture as proof, check in to Replay Lincoln Park on Instagram or Facebook, and tag your photo with #replaylincolnpark. Show the post to your bartender, and they’ll confer upon you the discount (as well as the bragging rights).
Good luck, players. You’ll need it.
You might not think we see it, but we do. That slight frustrated lip bite as you lose your sixth air hockey match in a row against your Tinder date — that envious lip curl as one of your friends effortlessly beats you 7-nil, that shadow of a sullen look as you walk back up to the bar to drown your sorrows in a Cinnamon Apple Jamo shot. We feel for you. And because you read this blog, you’re special to us. That’s why we’re going to unveil our secret-weapon air hockey tips — strategies that will teach you how to win air hockey matches no matter whether you’re playing against your date, your friend, or an 80’s movie villain who will demolish the orphanage if you can’t beat them. Next time, they’ll be the ones drowning their sorrows.
How To Win Air Hockey Games Against (Almost) Anybody
1: The Best Offense…
We’ll start with the basics. Since you’re an urbane, calm, and cool person, you’re likely not flailing all over the table when you play air hockey. But in order to win air hockey games, you’re going to need to be even more calm. Most of the time, you’re going to want to be in a defensive position around 2 feet from the center of the goal — this is known as the triangle defense.
1a: The Triangle Defense
While it may seem counterintuitive to winning an air hockey game, having your puck this far out from the goal actually helps you cut off angled shots before they reach the goal. Bubbleairhockey.com puts it this way — think about how a soccer goalie plays in a 1-on-1 scenario. In order to cut off angles, the goalie comes out of the goal to meet the attacking player. And since air hockey is a 1-on-1 game, you’ll always want to be cutting off those angles. The only caveat here is that you will be vulnerable to bank shots, so be ready to move your mallet back if you need to. This means that you should not be leaning over the table while you’re playing — standing up straight makes moving backwards much easier. This will help you win air hockey games through maintaining possession of the puck and setting up offensive opportunities.
1b: Track The Puck
The key to defense, after you’re in position, is tracking the puck. Most experts agree that if you try to chase the puck on defense, you’ll get scored on because your reaction time simply won’t be fast enough. Instead of doing that, try to match the puck’s movement a bit, then move to cut the puck’s path off where it will enter your goal. That will give you more time to react, and therefore, to plan a counter attack and ultimately win air hockey matches.
2: Know Your Shots
There are a few main shot types in the game, but in order to win air hockey games, you’ll really only need two: straight shots and bank shots. Once you master these, you can mix it up with pump fakes, jukes, and “drift” shots, shots where you lightly tap the puck out of the shooting zone then follow up with a real shot.
No matter what shot you choose, be sure to shoot with your wrist, not your arm. Though you might get more power and speed with a big ol’ sweeping arm thrust, these shots are less controlled, can lead to the puck flying off the table, and also make it much harder to get back on defense.
2a: The Straight Shot
This shot is the most simple shot — a straight-down-the-line shot meant to take advantage of an opponent who is out of position. It’s a deceptive shot in a lot of ways, since most air hockey shots are angled due to the motion of the puck, so mastering it can be tough. But when you do, it’s an incredibly effective tool to help you win air hockey games — especially against opponents who have overcommited to a big shot.
2b: The Bank Shot
This shot is much more common, and comes in multiple flavors. The key in all bank shots, however, is to strike the puck from the back, not the side. Hitting the puck from the side actually makes you much more likely to perform a double (or triple) bank, a shot that hits more than one wall before proceeding to the goal. These shots are really easy to block, and should be avoided.
The two bank shots to know are “overs” and “unders”, and they simply refer to the vector of the puck. Don’t worry, we’re not going to get into any advanced trigonometry here, but simply put, an “under” will hit the wall further down the table in order to sneak under your opponent’s mallet and into their goal, and an “over” shot will do the opposite, hitting the wall closer to your side to pass the puck over your opponent and take advantage of a goalie who is playing defense right up against the goal.
3: Learn, Change, and Vary Your Strategies
Now that you’ve mastered your offensive and defensive techniques, the rest is mental. What is your opponent doing? Are they favoring bank shots or trick shots? What does their body language imply about their play style?
The strategies that will help you win air hockey are akin to those in other sports or games in that reading your opponent is key — you’ll have a huge advantage if you can predict what your opponent is going to do next. By the same token, if you make it hard for your opponent to read you, you’ll have an advantage as well. So mix it up — don’t just rely on one type of shot, and feel free to play some mind games.
Feeling like putting your new skills to the test? Of course you are. We host tournaments every week here at Replay Lincoln Park, so come on down and show off a bit. Your Tinder date will be impressed. We promise.