A remake of the popular 2003 action/adventure game The Simpsons Hit & Run game has rocked the world of video game enthusiasts and it only took a week to achieve. Kiwi Youtuber ‘Reubs’ has built a short demo that showcases what a Hit & Run remake could achieve if it was remastered.
The 2003 action-adventure game, set in Springfield, follows members of The Simpsons family as well as convenience store owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, as they travel on foot, or via car around the city and come across secrets that are all part of an alien conspiracy. “Most of my best memories were not spent on the playground with the cool kids, they were spent in my room, playing this game,” Reubs explains in a short Youtube clip, which describes his creative process.
Reubs fondly remembers collecting Buzz Cola cards throughout the game, while the rest of us were “collecting signatures” for our yearbooks. The sandbox-style game allows the player to control the characters to perform simple maneuvers like blowing up cars and attacking other background characters, much like Grand Theft Auto.
In order to achieve his dream, Reubs began by trying to rip the graphics onto his PC. He came across Lucas Cardellini, another YouTuber who had created a tool to open map files. Once he had downloaded the map, Reubs reimported the files into Topaz Gigapixel AI and the textures in the artwork were improved. The road, crosswalks, and pavements still looked pixelated so he created some in photoshop and added some stylised trees that he had purchased online. “I’m not an artist, I probably didn’t do a great job on this but it’s definitely a better job,” he says.
From there he got into coding. For animation he used the Advanced Locomotion Pack in Unreal Engine, to transform the Homer character. He found a Homer model that wasn’t compatible with the pack, so he hired a Swiss artist, and “18 years later, Homer is once again running around, but this time with advanced animation and ray-traced graphics. If I could show this to six-year-old Reuben, I think his head would explode.”
“My main goal here is to remake the first mission out of the game, called the Cola caper, where Homer is set to get ice cream from the shop.” From there he ripped audio from the original game and programmed gameplay elements such as the Buzz Cola collectable cards.
The game includes five playable characters; Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and Apu, who can walk, jump, run and attack by kicking or jump-kicking. Released in 2003, the game travels through over fifty different missions and the player can unlock rewards by completing missions. In a recent interview with NME, Simpsons Producer Matt Selman said the decision behind making the original game came about because the publisher “just wanted another driving game. And we were like, everyone’s playing whatever version of Grand Theft Auto, people need to get out of the cars.”
While the developer did originally leave the link to the upgraded demo, it has since been removed due to ‘copyright concerns.’ When asked if he would like to see a remake of the popular game, The Simpsons’ Executive Producer, Matt Selman said he would love to see a remake but “it’s a complicated corporate octopus to try to make that happen.”
The achievement was so popular with Youtube viewers that the original lead designer of the game, Joe McGinn even piped up; “Amazing what you accomplished! Really gives a taste of what a full modern remaster could be. Impressive work!” He went on to say that the game is owned by “a combination of Activision, Gracie Films, and possibly EA, who may still own the rights to Simpsons games in general,” which would make the decision to remake the game difficult.
According to a study by Game, The Simpsons Hit & Run placed first in the most wanted remaster, with 44% of the final vote, winning over 20% more fans than GTA San Andreas which came in second place.
For now, gaming fans can keep an eye on Reubs youtube page, which is followed by 137k followers (at last count). Along with a variety of ‘how to’ clips, Reubs has also remade some popular classics including Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and Skyrim, with the help of Unreal Engine 5.