Bart Simpson goes to a video game store and purchases the new ultra-violent Grand Theft Scratchy game, which his mother, Marge, swiftly confiscates. Suddenly, a video game instruction booklet appears in front of him. After reading the guidebook, the Simpson family members realize each has a unique superpower. However, playing with these catches the attention of the aliens Kang and Kodos, who plan to conquer Earth. Now, the unlikely superheroes must defend Springfield against an alien invasion and discover the actual cause for their newly gained talents and even their very existence.
Based on the long-running program, The Simpsons Game is a 3D action game featuring platforming and minor puzzle-solving aspects. The game is broken into sixteen episodes, each with cutscenes similar to the original Simpsons TV show. Every episode occurs in a distinct setting; some events occur in Springfield, while others transport the player to meta-virtual worlds. Some episodes, with names like Medal of Homer or Neverquest, satirize a popular game or genre. Each stage depicts two Simpson clan members collaborating to attain the goal. Players must switch back and forth among family members, each with their abilities to complete the level. The majority of the game’s versions support two-player cooperative play.
The four controllable characters have unique powers that can be employed for fighting, puzzle-solving, or exploration. Homer can morph into a rolling blob or inflate himself with helium and float for a short period; eventually, he learns a few other transformation talents. Bart can transform into Bartman, using a grappling hook to gain access to certain sections and moving aloft in air streams with his cape. Lisa’s primary skill is the “Hand of Buddha,” which she uses to move around enormous things; she can also use her saxophone to stun or confound adversaries. Finally, Marge can assemble people and control their behavior with her megaphone and send Maggie into crawlspaces only she can reach. Some of these powers have limited uses and must be recharged or replenished with unique materials, whereas others are only available at specific trigger points.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions also include free-roaming gameplay, with player characters able to leave the Simpsons’ home between missions and freely explore through virtual Springfield. Familiar landmarks (such as Moe’s Tavern) are present and can be explored. Additional dialogue and events may occur in these locations. It is feasible to go swiftly to numerous destinations via bus.