Category Archives: DirectX 3

Virtual Springfield

A look at Springfield in 1997

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

Released for both Mac and PC in 1997, Virtual Springfield puts you directly into Springfield where you can freely explorer the Simpsons town, Springfield. Whilst promoted as being a 3D game, its actually 2D with a 3D based perspective, using an engine built by Vortex Media Arts. This isn’t the first Simpsons game released, with previous titles being released on the NES and the Sega MegaDrive, and it wouldn’t be the last either.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Launcher where you can start the game

This game was an interesting look at Springfield since in the show, whilst there was never any continuity of the town itself, building would come and go and the layout of the town never remained consistent, not helping was the change of animation studio from the first few seasons. Still, a lot of references to the early seasons of the show are present.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Marge cooking the cat

The main object of the game is to collect all 74 of the collector cards, which are hidden across 17 different locations. Some locations are locked and can be unlocked by collecting specific items. The games HUD is designed around the player wearing a VR headset and using it to navigate Springfield.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

Unfortunately the game runs slowly on PCem when running it directly from the CD-ROM (being played from an external Blu-ray drive) so its usually based to create an iso image of the game, then mount it into PCem. (Update: It seems that I had set the CD-ROM speed in PCem to 4x, which wasn’t fast enough for the game, since increasing it to 16x the stuttering issues have reduce, but you still get the odd delay, defiantly dump to BIN/CUE when running in PCem)

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

The game is navigated using a point ad click approach, moving your mouse cursor to a specific area lets you either select or interact with an object or if it turns to an arrow, lets you move in that direction. If the game is left idle, random animations are played out.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Milhouse had a growth spurt

Some buildings (Like the Simpsons house) can be entered some have multiple rooms that can be navigated through. Some rooms/buildings are blocked and require an item to be in the inventory before it can be accessed, these can be obtained by picking up the item by clicking on it.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Who shot Mr Burns – Part 3
Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Aye Caramba
Simpsons Virtual Springfield
RIP Krusty
Simpsons Virtual Springfield

Its not really a game in the traditional sense, there’s no fail state or any challenge, except for collecting cards. Its more of a application like the previous Simpsons Cartoon Studio. Nowadays you could probably build the same game within a modern browser, like Bing maps but for the Simpsons universe, and maybe leverage a VR headset for full immersion.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Sappy and Pelma

Being a long-time fan of the show (For seasons 1-9) and an obvious target for this product, my only gripe is there weren’t more things to interact with per each location. There are the occasional mini games featured in the Noiseland Arcade, but certainly more activities like this could have been sprinkled into the game.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Thought this was a banjo at first

Quite a few locations are missing like the Springfield dog track where they adopted Santa’s little helper, Krusty Burger (appears in game but cannot be entered), Department of Motor Vehicles, Police Station (again cannot be entered)

Macintosh

Virtual Springfield uses a hybrid disc which allows the PC copy of the game to run on a Macintosh system, if only I could find one. I’d imagine its very similar to the PC version however given the era, it would most likely only work on a System 7 PowerPC Macintosh

External Links

FOX Interactive

Virtual Springfield Technical Info

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

What a mouthful

A gem based puzzle game, soft of similar to columns, but instead of matching 3 of the same colours, you have gems and crash gems which are used to destroy a gem of the same colour, and sends a counter gem to the rival player. The game does feature various Capcom characters but they are not directly controllable, merely appearing as avatars. The game is over when the players gems reach the top, similar to Tetris.

Arcade

Arcade version uses an arbitrary resolution. One nice feature is when the blocks are beginning to stack up, the music starts to speed up. As the arcade was the original released, the console and PC versions are based on this version.

PlayStation

Supports both memory cards, Seems to have some overscan (Could be due to the emulator), this can be adjusted in the game settings

Sega Saturn

Saturn version seems to run in a higher resolution compared to the PSone version (Could also be emulator related), also in the Saturn version, Dan randomly interrupts a match in arcade mode, which I have never encountered in the PSone version. The loading times are faster compared to the PSone and Windows version.

Microsoft Windows

The game was ported to the PC. The specs required are higher than I thought, which might be an indicator of a poor port. When running on a PCem based Pentium MMX 100Mhz, there was notable slowdown at 640×480 (not the lowest resolution supported) The graphics card was an ATI Mach64 VT2. Running at 800×600 was near unplayable. A Pentium 2 with a S3 Trio64 gave better resolution.

A nice side effect is the music of the game can be played in any media player, since they are wav files, even the sound effects, They are located in the BGM folder. There is also an EMI folder that contains a bunch of files with the EMI extension, which I’m guessing relates to the background and sprite graphics. There is also a goodies folder which contains images that are also in the goodies section of the game, plus a zip file with a Windows theme. The PlayStation also appears to use the EMI format, but the Saturn does not.

There’s an exe file in the movie folder on the PlayStation version, but trying to run it on windows 98 results in an invalid Win32 application error, trying tor un it from does gives a ‘Program too big to fit in memory’ error

Desktop Theme

Desktop theme

A desktop theme comes bundled in the GOODIES folder which can be installed

Comparison

Saturn version (middle) is run on the RetroArch Yabause core with default settings, PlayStation (left) is using the BeetlePSX HW core which also with default settings, the arcade version is on the right.

The graphics are mostly the same across the different versions, with the PC version having the ability to run at a higher resolution.

Score Ranking

Main Menu

Demo

Gameplay