The Simpsons: Hit and Run is a video game released on September 16, 2003 for the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox in North America, with the Windows port released on November 13, in the region. October 31 in PAL regions, with the Windows port released on November 21, in the region and December 25, in Japan. It was made by Vivendi Universal and was created by Radical Entertainment. All of the series' cast had auditioned in the game. It is cited by video game critics and fans as the best Simpsons video game ever, aside from The Simpsons Arcade game.
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Strange events are happening all around Springfield. In the ensuring days, Kang and Kodos are found to be responsible as they plan to make people go insane by infusing a new version of Buzz Cola into Springfield's water supply and destroying themselves with their Buzz Cola Laser Guns. Playing as the Simpson Family (excluding Maggie, she is replaced by Apu), they go around Springfield investigating the areas of such events to find out what's happening and the secret behind it.
In the sky, a green light appears on October 25th in the city of Springfield, which release wasp-like surveillance cameras. One of the cameras goes flying and ends up at 742 Evergreen Terrace, the Simpsons's residence. The camera catches Bart tying his shoes before going skateboarding and Marge taking a look outside. At the suspicion that Marge discovered it, the camera flies to the backyard and enters the house, only to find Homer sleeping on the couch. As it comes closer to Homer, he wakes up and sees the camera. Homer smashes it with his hand and it falls to the floor, where Homer destroys it with his foot.
Homer's main goals for this level is investigating the Black Vans and running errands for Marge.
After destroying the camera, Homer sees that two strange floating coins came out of it. Homer grabs one and starts watching a Krusty's commercial for Buzz Cola, which convinces Homer to buy one. Outside, Marge tells Homer to go to the Kwik-E-Mart to buy ice cream. Homer goes and buys the ice-cream and a cola from Apu. After this, Marge tells Homer to take Lisa's science project to the school, since she forgot it. Homer starts driving to school, and enters into a race with Principal Skinner to the school. Homer arrives first, gives the project to Lisa and goes back home, where Marge tells him to go help Ned Flanders. Flanders tells Homer to recover six lost things (which Homer had previously stolen). Homer recovers the objects and goes back home before going to work. Marge tells him that today was going to be Smithers' inspection of his office. Homer worries because Smithers was going to discover his scorpions farm and decides to stop him. Homer goes to Krusty Burger and asks Lenny of Smithers' whereabouts, who is in the Kwik-E-Mart. Homer drives to it and encounters Smithers. Before he reaches the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, Homer destroys his car with Barney's Plow King. After he reaches the plant, he goes to his office to take a nap. But he sees that the plant cameras are watching him, so he destroys the plant's electricity sources. When he goes back to office, Mr. Burns tells everyone to go home due to the electricity fail. Back at home, he sees on TV the wasp cameras chaos in the city and that black vans are surveilling people. Homer notices that one van outside his house had started following it, only to end up in Mr. Burns's Manor, whom Homer believes that Mr Burns is responsible for the wasp chaos. So he goes to the Grocery Store to tell this to Marge, but she enlists him in a mission to stop the Bonestorm 2 truck to reach the stores. Homer and Marge succed and Homer goes back to the plant to tell his discovering to Carl. Smithers hears their talking and races Homer to Burns's Manor. Homer arrives first and confronts Burns. He tells him that he saw a black van entering the manor but Burns tells him that it was pizza. While Homer realizes his mistake, Burns releases the hounds.
Bart's main goals for this level are trying to get Bonestorm 2 and helping Professor Frink make a Truckasaurus.
The next day, Bart attempts to get a copy of the Bonestorm 2 game, but he has to avoid Principal Skinner to get to the Try-N-Save. When he gets there, Jimbo reveals that he "bought" the last one in stock with "four-finger discount", and unbeknownst to Bart, the rest were destroyed by Marge.
Bart mopes to Kearney, but he tells Bart that fireworks are the new trend. With Kearney's advice, he collects fireworks from Otto, Moe, Snake and Ralph. Bart is nearly caught by Chief Wiggum, so he goes on his quest for Bonestorm 2 again. Bart then helps Comic Book Guy to get to the Java Server before a nerd does, to report about a new movie on his web page, and when they arrive, Comic Book Guy tells Bart that Professor Frink could have a copy of the game, so he goes to see him. Frink tells Bart that he could make a Truckasaurus by collecting a WWII radio and a satellite dish. Bart goes to Herman's Military Antiques, but the store was robbed by Snake. He then races Snake for the radio. Bart then goes to help Cletus deliver flatmeat to the Krusty Burger to get a satellite dish. When Bart returns, Professor Frink tells him that he forgot the blender. He goes to Dr. Nick to get a blender, but first, he has to do him a favor; his monkeys escaped and he wants them back. Bart buys the Mr Plow snowplow from Homer, collects the monkeys, and gets the blender. When Bart collects all of the items however, Professor Frink complains that there are too many cell phone users, and the interference would cause it to go on a rampage and kill people in the ensuing destruction, and he claims that his insurance is too high to pay for all of that. Bart then destroys the cars with cell phones and gets to see the Trucksaurus. After nearly getting crushed by it, he gets kidnapped by aliens.
Lisa's main goal is finding the whereabouts of Bart.
The disappearance of Bart puzzled everyone, and on the 27th, Lisa decides to look for her brother. First, she goes to Comic Book Guy for answers, but he wants to retrieve a controversial issue of the Itchy and Scratchy where they kiss, so she helps him out. Next, Lisa goes to Milhouse for clues, but he just wants to ask her out for a dance, which she refuses. Lisa then goes to Apu, but he needs help destroying flatmeat that Cletus was delivering to the Krusty Burgers. Lisa is then told by Grampa, at the observatory, that he saw Bart's lucky red hat fall out of a sedan, and with Otto's school bus, she breaks the sedan. She then goes down to Monty Burns Casino and assists Chief Wiggum in taking down Snake with "three strikes", in exchange for information about Bart. He reports that he saw a lot of strange stuff around the docks. Lisa then asks Captain McCallister about these suspicious appearances, but to jog his memory, she has to deliver fish to restaurants. Instead of delivering them, she sets them free. The Captain then tells Lisa that Bart was in a limo, but when she destroys it, he told her that he was actually aboard the C. Spanker. Lisa then boards the ship, and finds Bart with soiled pants and muttering unintelligible gibberish.
On the 28th, Marge decides to investigate the cause of Bart's insanity. A clue could be a suspicious crop circle that appeared. She questions Chief Wiggum, but he needs some donuts, because Lard Lad is closed. Marge then collects donuts from a donut truck. After that, Chief Wiggum tells Marge the crop circle is near Cletus's shack, but when she gets there, Cletus mistakes her for a reporter, so Marge must follow him and collect his items. Afterwards, Cletus agrees to help Marge if she helps him with collecting ketchup packets. Marge agrees but changes into a prison uniform to avoid getting her clothes dirty. After she has helped Cletus, he tells her to try talking to an old person. Marge arrives at the cemetery to talk to Hans Moleman, who says she should talk to Grampa, but must be quick because the Springfield Retirement Castle shuts down in a few minutes. Marge gets to Grampa but he needs his medication, which some bullies stole and gave to a man in a black car which is the alien's car. Marge returns and Abe has fallen asleep. After he wakes up, grandpa says that the crop circles are shaped like the image of the Buzz Cola logo. She returns to Bart, who tells her the aliens used it as mind control, so Marge goes and investigates as Officer Marge. She then tells Apu about the cola, and she destroys three cola trucks. She returns home, where Chief Wiggum is waiting. After avoiding him, Marge goes home to her family.
Apu now decides to investigate. He follows a Buzz Cola truck, which takes him to the Legitimate Businessman's Social Club, where Louie tells him the cola is related to the museum, but if he tells this to someone, they will go for his family. Apu then prevents the mafia to reach the hospital, where Dr. Hibbert tells him his babies need diapers, so he gets them from the Shelbyville family. Krusty tells Apu to dress himself as an American to follow the police track to get to a criminal that would help him know more about the cola. He gets to Snake, who wants Apu to collect trash bins and destroy an armored truck for "community service". However, this was actually a ploy for Snake to get money. Apu then goes to Bart, who helps him get to the museum before it closes. There, they discover this is a plan from Kang and Kodos, who gave Buzz Cola to Earthicans to make them crazy and to make the audience for their TV shows raise. They say to each other that they will give laser guns to people at the Squidport so they shoot each other, ruin the town and make their TV show the most popular one in the galaxy.
Bart wants Apu to help him, but he rejects, so he asks Otto, who is going to Krustylu Studios, taking kids along the way. Bart then asks Barney (as the security guard) where Krusty is. He suggests following a Itchy and Scratchy Movie Truck that goes to the Squidport. Eventually, it takes Bart to Krusty, who doesn't believe Bart's story about aliens. He decides to find someone who does believe him, like Professor Frink. After following him to the observatory, he tells Bart to find a laser as proof. He knocks one of the Duff Lorries full of boxes with lasers and destroys them. He picks up one of the lasers as proof, but Skinner takes it. After Bart destroys his car and takes the laser back, he goes for Krusty. Now he believes him and tells him to destroy the laser stands. Bart buys the Globex Super Villain Car from Kearney and runs over all of the stands. Now, Bart goes for Homer and asks him for help to get rid of the lasers. They have to arrive at the Duff Brewery before one of the black sedans reach it first. When they get to there, they see a spaceship come from inside the factory. Kang and Kodos tell Homer and Bart that their TV show will raise its ratings because they have dropped Buzz Cola into the cemetery, and the dead people will raise from the ground.
Now Springfield has transformed into a creepy city full of witches, ghosts and zombies everywhere. All of the buildings and houses are now Halloween themed, with pumpkins at the entrances and on the streets. Lisa wants Homer to get rid of the zombies, so he goes and gets things to fight them. Comic Book Guy then suggests that Homer to look for the aliens hideout, which is the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. There, Homer finds Professor Frink, who tells him the Rigellians weakness is nuclear waste, so they both deliver nuclear waste to the spaceship at the school. Later, Lisa tells Homer that Mr. Burns must have some nuclear waste. He gives Homer a map to all of the nuclear waste he has hidden in the city. Homer uses his car, Frink's Hover Car, Snake's Bandit, and Grampa's World War II (With Rocket) car to deliver nuclear waste to the spaceship and destroy it. The day after, everything is back to normal. Homer thinks all was just a hotdog dream. Bart informs him about some men in the door. Those men are Rigelians, who congratulate Homer for Kang and Kodos' TV show. In Heaven, Kang and Kodos watch everything. The game ends with Kang screaming because of the Hit and Run logo appearing, signifying the credits.
Hit & Run focuses primarily on driving missions. It employs the "sandbox" format, featuring a third-person view, an explorable environment, and drivable vehicles similar to the GTA series. While most cars can be hijacked or stolen, the non-playable characters' vehicles cannot be compromised in this way. Instead, the player's character can be seen riding in the passenger's seat of another vehicle while the owner drives. The game features a "Hit & Run meter" that brings the police after the player if it gets too high; if the player is captured by the police, (s)he is fined 50 coins. In the first 3 levels, only one police car is deployed to chase the player, but starting from level 4, two police cars are dispatched in pursuit.
Progressing though the various story levels allows the player to control Homer, Lisa, Marge, Bart, and Apu; many other Simpsons characters such as Chief Wiggum and Professor Frink appear in non-playable roles, but will also drive you in some missions.
In addition to the story missions, players can optionally participate in "bonus" missions or races which typically award unlockable cars for successful completion. Coins, the currency in the game, are acquired by hitting objects such as trees or mailboxes, destroying wasp cameras or Buzz Cola machines, or simple collection (many coins are simply scattered throughout each level). Players can use coins to purchase new vehicles or outfits for the current character; many of these can be traced directly to specific episodes of The Simpsons (e.g. Bart's Space Shuttle-shaped Honor Roller soapbox racer or Marge's police uniform). Many of the cars also appear in "The Simpsons Road Rage". However, some cars, such as the Longhorn and Hover Car, appear in "The Simpsons Road Rage" but have a very different design.
A number of "collector cards" depicting objects, characters, or scenes from the series are placed in each level, usually in hard-to-access areas. Collecting all of these cards in a level unlocks a track that can be played in a slot car-like racing game, and collecting all of the cards in the game unlocks an original Itchy & Scratchy short, "500-Yard Gash".
The game received generally favorable reviews, an average of 92/100 score from critics. The game did well in sales as well, selling over 5.5 million copies worldwide as of June 2009. The game received an editor's choice award from GameSpy and it won the award for Fave Video Game at the 2004 Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards.