Tag Archives: Windows 95

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

Microsoft Plus! 95

Sort of like an expansion pack to Windows 95, this adds additional features that enhance the Windows 95 experiences such as desktop themes, maintenance utilities and some bundled software like Internet Explorer which would be its debut.

Install

Looks like your typical Microsoft installer of the era

Post Install

The boot screen has changed!

Desktop Themes

A selection of themes from the Plus pack. Users of Windows 98 will find these themes look familiar as these themes later appeared in Windows 98 (Along with the Space and Underwater themes). These themes change everything, from the desktop icons to the toolbar layout and fonts (that carry over to the programs that you use), to the sounds and mouse cursor. Science and Inside Your Computer where my personal favourite, used to rock those a lot back in the day.

Utilities

DriveSpace: Compresses the entire dis to allow for more efficient use of hard disk space at the expensive of performance, only works on FAT16 volumes

Internet Starter Kit: Designed to help get users online

Task Scheduler / System Agent: Allows you to schedule certain tasks, such as programs being run at a specific time. Useful for maintenance tasks like Scandisk or the Disk Drefragmenter but also for anti virus programs. Also useful if you wish to run a program at a reoccurring time.

Visual Enhancements

These were designed for high performance systems of the time that supported graphics acceleration

High Colour Icons: By default Windows 95 only supports up to 256 colour icons, with the Plus! pack you can have icons with up to 65536 colours.

Window Dragging: The contents of the windows can be seen when the user drags the application window around the desktop. Previously only an outline of the window could be seen

Anti-Aliasing: Softens the edges of screen fonts and UI elements, similar to ClearType in Windows XP, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Wallpaper Stretching/Scaling: Desktop wallpapers can be stretched to fill the screen if the image resolution does not match the display resolution, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Product Catalogue

The multimedia catalogue, this isn’t installed onto the user system, instead its run straight off the CD-ROM. A showcase for other Microsoft consumer software and products.

Microsoft BOB, which was released from around that period.

Microsoft arguably made the most ergonomic mouses, and loved to show them off

Pinball

The Pinball game was originally developed by Maxis (Yes, the SimCity and The Sims Maxis) makes it debut here although the actual retail game had a lot more levels/machines, in plus pack only one level is featured.