Welcome to the game of tomorrow! Futurama: Hit & Run is a fan-made total conversion mod of the iconic The Simpsons: Hit & Run. Built from the ground up, the game plans to take the gameplay and iconography of The Simpsons: Hit & Run and turn it into a Futurama-based experience, set mostly in the 31st century city of New New York. The project instantly grabbed me, as a giant fan of both The Simpsons and Futurama, and I knew we had to go deeper. I got the chance to speak to the project’s founder, Will, about what we can expect to see from the game, his roots in modding, and more.
With the project being built from scratch using The Simpsons: Hit & Run as its foundation, we needed first to talk more about the classic game. Will first played the game, like many of us, in his childhood. It was the first game he had completed on his own, along with Tony Hawk’s Underground. As he has matured though, he doesn’t hold the game on a pedestal. Looking back on the game, he said “I think as I’ve got older though, I don’t revere it as much. I think the gameplay is pretty boring”. To Will, as a developer, this simplicity in the original gameplay makes it “very limited”, with a small pool of objective types, and most missions being “glorified fetch quests”.
For Will, the key ingredient that held the game together so well for us all and makes it so nostalgic for us is not the gameplay or the missions. “I feel the IP and show references are what makes the game hold together so well. It really does ooze the Simpsons atmosphere, probably the best of any Simpsons game”. There have been many The Simpsons games since Hit & Run, but compared to the cult following that has, none of them saw the same level of success.
Will believes the “semi open-world” is another factor that puts the game above others in the franchise. In The Simpsons: Hit & Run, players can go pretty much anywhere in the level at any time. Exploring the iconic locations of Springfield at your own pace really brought the show to life on a level that could only be achieved through gaming. It isn’t lost on Will that he feels Hit & Run would not have been as well received without The Simpsons branding, whilst he is heading a conversion mod that does just that. That’s exactly why Futurama: Hit & Run aims to successfully capture the “atmosphere and nods to the show”, to replicate what made The Simpsons: Hit & Run so great for so many, but with a futuristic coat of paint.
The journey to making Futurama: Hit & Run started in 2015, when Will stumbled upon the modding community. He imagined making his own missions as a child, and with the help of Kenny Giles, a moderator on the Donut Team forum, he learnt how to use Lucas’ P3D editor. The editor is a piece of software that can be used to edit .p3d files, which are found in The Simpsons: Hit & Run. Will said, “I really owe it all to him showing me the ropes. I became obsessed with making custom missions for the game”. His first mod, The Odyssey of Springfield, was among the first mods for the game to feature custom missions, alongside Some Challenge Mod by SomeBot. The mods are hard to find now, but they were the “good days”.
So, now we’re caught up with where Futurama: Hit & Run came from. The next question that came to mind is – why? The idea for a Futurama mod came from the lacklustre 2003 Futurama game. Despite finding it decent as a 3D platformer, it wasn’t what Will imagined. Futurama: Hit & Run is “the game I always wanted growing up”, Will said of his idea. The development of the game is ongoing. There have been some snags, such as “learning how gags work” and figuring out how to operate the air traffic. Gags are an interactable element in The Simpsons: Hit & Run that triggers a short, funny reference to an episode of the series. The main challenge the team faces is simply finding time to work on it. “They have their own lives, some have committed relationships, partners, jobs, or are at University”, adding “developers are people too”.
As for the final game, there will be three different levels. Level 1 in New New York (daytime), Level 2 in space, and Level 3 in New New York (nighttime). If you’re as eager to play the game as us, the good news is that a demo will be coming soon, with a release aimed for some time around the end of August or the start of September. “We’d have loved to have released it sooner in Summer 2022, but again free time is the biggest obstacle with a project like this”, Will said when asked about the demo’s release. The demo will be found on the Donut Team forum as a .lmlm file, a single file to put into the ‘Mods’ folder of Lucas’ Mod Launcher for The Simpsons: Hit & Run.
There’s no word yet on a release period for the full game. It’s intentional that there’s no deadline, with Will saying “there’s no people in suits telling us to hurry up making it, so we really are just making progress on our own accord, there’s no deadlines or anything. It’s a labor of love thing”. It’s definitely clear from the demo trailer just how much love has gone into the game, with Level 1’s New New York already making waves for how it looks like it was plucked straight out of the show.
I ended my interview with Will by asking two questions, arguably the most important of them all! What is his favorite Futurama episode, and if he had to be one of the characters, which Futurama character would he be? On his favorite episode, he said “I think my favorite would have to be Jurassic Bark, generic I know, it’s very touching and tragic”. Will is a self-described “sappy shit, so I love a good episode that can tug at the heartstrings”. The Futurama character he likened himself to the most was Fry, but with the brains he’s put into this project so far, we’d agree that he must be related to Professor Farnsworth.
It was an honor to be able to speak to Will about Futurama: Hit & Run, and I will be following the game closely in the coming weeks and months. We really appreciate him giving us the opportunity to chat about this incredible nostalgia-filled project! For more information on the development, you can head over to the Donut Team forum or their YouTube page.
Will you be giving the game a go? What’s your favorite episode of Futurama? Let us know in the comments below, and keep your one alien eye on GameLuster for more Futurama: Hit & Run coverage.