- The Simpsons: Hit & Run, a beloved video game adaptation of the iconic TV show, never received a sequel despite its initial success and popularity.
- The game’s appeal came from being written by The Simpsons writers, voiced by the show’s actors, and its open-world sandbox style similar to Grand Theft Auto.
- The sequel’s development was halted in the early stages, despite having a license for five games, due to a bizarre decision by the higher-ups.
The classic video game title known as The Simpsons: Hit & Run never got a sequel, despite becoming a beloved adaptation of the iconic show, and its developers gathered on a video call with journalist Ben Hanson to discuss the reasons why. Released in 2003, The Simpsons: Hit & Run was the spiritual successor to Radical Entertainment’s previous game, The Simpsons: Road Rage. Whereas Road Rage borrowed gameplay elements from The Crazy Taxi games, Hit & Run leaned more towards Grand Theft Auto as its main source of inspiration. It’s widely considered to be the best Simpsons game from the PS2 era, and having sold over three million copies by 2007, it’s considered a commercial success.
Though The Simpsons: Hit & Run received a remake at the hands of an extremely dedicated fan, Radical Entertainment never finished development on a sequel. What made Hit & Run popular with players was the fact that it was written by the writers from The Simpsons, and voiced by the actors from the show. It oozed the same kind of charm that made The Simpsons so influential in the pop culture of its day, and the open-world sandbox style that it borrowed from Grand Theft Auto made it approachable to players at the time of its release.
Executive producer John Melchior, producer Steve Bocska, writer Chris Mitchell, programmers Cary Brisebois and Greg Mayer, and designer Darren Evenson shed some light on what happened during the development of Hit & Run’s sequel, as well as why it never became a franchise despite its initial success. A three-minute clip of the interview with Ben Hanson was posted on the MinnMaxx YouTube channel, where the developers revealed that even though they had a license to develop up to five games using The Simpsons IP, the sequel’s production was halted in its early stages of development.
John Melchior was asked to clarify the statement. “I don’t know. It was a five-game deal for less money than I think Vivendi paid for the first game,” he continued, explaining how his at-the-time boss was also perplexed. “He was just like, ‘I don’t understand. I gave it to you on a silver platter. Why aren’t you just saying yes and doing these games?’ It was just a really bizarre decision. I’ll never understand it. Most people on the production level never understood it.”
One of the features that was developed for the sequel prior to its cancelation included a mechanic for players to lug objects around with their vehicle. The towing mechanic was only developed as a prototype by Greg Mayer, and in addition to a few assets, as well as a PowerPoint presentation, represented the sole work completed for Hit & Run’s sequel before the-powers-that-be pulled the plug. While video game rights for The Simpsons were eventually purchased by Electronic Arts, the developers are united with fans in wanting to see an official remake of The Simpsons: Hit & Run.
“I don’t understand. I gave it to you on a silver platter. Why aren’t you just saying yes and doing these games?”
“This was going to be a franchise, no doubt in anybody’s mind,” Melchior stated, before Evenson chimed in: “It was a no-brainer; it was like, well of course we’re going to be doing this. The stars are aligned, we’re treading down this path. And then it was just like, ‘Huh, I guess we’re not.'”
The golden age of The Simpsons may have passed, but many fans fondly reminisce about their playthrough of Hit & Run. Though it launched with a laundry list of bugs and glitches, in a gaming era of widely-accepted remakes, it is arguably The Simpsons game most worthy of a remaster.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
The SImpsons: Hit and Run is an action-adventure game developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal Games. Taking inspiration from the Grand Theft Auto franchise, it allows players to explore Springfield and complete missions while driving around in their vehicle.
- The Simpsons
- PlayStation 2, Xbox One, GameCube, Microsoft Windows
- September 16, 2003
- Radical Entertainment
- Radical Entertainment
- How Long To Beat
- 10 hours