The Simpsons Hit & Run is an action-adventure video game based on the animated sitcom The Simpsons. It was released for the GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Windows in North America on September 16, 2003, In Europe and Australia on October 31, 2003 and in Japan on December 25, 2003. The story and dialogue were crafted by writers from The Simpsons, with all character voices supplied by the actual cast.
The game follows the Simpson family and the citizens of Springfield, who witness many strange incidents that occur in Springfield. When several of the citizens take matters into their own hands, they discover that two aliens Kang and Kodos are filming a reality television series about the populace. To make the show more interesting, the aliens release a new version of the popular soft drink Buzz Cola into Springfield's water supply—however, this particular version causes insanity. With help from Professor Frink, Homer is able to destroy the aliens' spaceship, and Springfield and its inhabitants are returned to normal.
The game received generally favorable reviews from video game critics. Praise focused on the interpretation of the Simpsons television series as a video game and its parodical take on Grand Theft Auto III, while criticism mostly surrounded its gameplay. The game received the award for Fave Video Game at the 2004 Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards. As of June 2007, over three million copies of the game were sold.
Hit & Run has seven levels, each with missions and a unique plot. The player can only control one specific character in each level. The game's playable characters are Homer Simpson (played twice), Bart Simpson (played twice), Lisa Simpson, Marge Simpson, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. When traveling by foot, the player character can walk, run, and perform several attacks: a normal kick, a jumping kick, and a smashing move. To drive, the player can either commandeer one of the vehicles that litter the road, a feature taken from Grand Theft Auto III, or use a phone booth to select a car. The game's driving missions are also similar to those of Grand Theft Auto III. In both games, the player races against other characters, collects items before a timer runs out, and wrecks other cars.
The game has a sandbox-style format that emphasizes driving, and the player controls their character from a third-person view. The character can perform certain acts of violence, such as attacking pedestrians, blowing up vehicles, and destroying the environment. The Simpsons Hit & Run has a warning meter that indicates when the police will retaliate for bad behavior. Located in the bottom-right corner of the screen, the circular "hit and run" meter fills up when the character runs people over or destroys objects, and it will decrease when they cease doing so. When full, several police cars chase the character for the duration of the hit and run.
Each level contains items the player can collect, such as coins, which can be used to buy new cars and outfits that are required to progress through the game. The player can also collect wasps strapped with cameras and Itchy and Scratchy cards. By collecting all 49 of the latter, seven in each level, the player unlocks a special The Itchy & Scratchy Show video. Several events can cause the player to lose coins; because the character cannot die, injuries cause the player to lose coins. If the player is close enough to police cars for a certain period of time when being chased, they will be fined fifty coins.