A trip through Springfield … sort of

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I got invited to the celebration/block party for the 400th episode of “The Simpsons,” with Canan Tasci of City News (or as she’s known on our gaming podcast, Turkish Princess) riding shotgun. The pictures you see are taken from my all-powerful camera phone, because the both of us fail at charging our actual digital cameras.

Part of the party featured a demo of the new Simpsons game, which our friend Scot Rubin of All Games Interactive got to check out. You can also hit up GameTrailers or IGN to see the footage that sadly, me and Canan missed b/c we got there too late. Traffic fails when driving from Ontario to Los Angeles.

From what I’ve seen and heard, the Simpsons’ foray into the world of next-gen mimics the cartoon show in terms of art style and animation. Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa are all playable characters. The family finds itself literally trapped inside a video game, and they each discover unique abilities in their virtual world. You’ll see Homer gain calories and transform into a rolling, Katamari-style blob and Bart assume the role of Bartman, using his cape to glide through the air in a large brewery. The fact that it managed to pull this off in a 3D setting made the footage a little more enticing. What everyone saw was very early, pre-alpha stuff, so a lot can change from now until the game’s release.

As for the party itself, there were a ton of people there, feasting on all kinds of food — you had everything from tacos to four kinds of sausages to ice cream in a back alley. Which is kind of creepy … “hey kids, want some ice cream, come to the alley.” Whatever … I enjoyed it.

There was also a big projection screen against one of the set buildings, where they showed episode No. 400 to crowd at night. Matt Groening, the creator of the SImpsons, managed to address the crowd before it started. Not to spoil anything, but this particular episode hit home with the two of us — it tackles the concept of new journalism and the Internet vs. old journalism, with Kent Brockman serving as the centerpiece of the story. Now, prepare for some bad pics.

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That humanoid bit of fuzz is Matt Groening, the father of the SImpsons. I only recently learned how to pronounce his name (for the record, it’s pronounced GRAY-ning).

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Yeah … I need to bring a better camera.

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Of course, this had to be here. Oddly enough, no Duff beer or donuts.