Did Virtual Springfield Begat Google Street View?

street viewNo, of course not, but watching this video from GameSpot (specifically, from 3:43 onward) sorta reminded me of it. Lately, I've been nostalgic for Virtual Springfield, which I used to "play" in middle school. If you're unfamiliar with this classic 1997 Simpsons CD-ROM time-waster, you should totally read this article Bob "bobservo" Mackey wrote about it.

I appreciate how the game makers managed to place pretty much every location that had appeared in the series to that point into a geographical layout that actually made sense, instead of randomly chucking districts together in the face of all logic. If Fox Interactive got their shit together, they could re-use this stuff, add new places from the subsequent 30 seasons of the show, and throw it up on the web with a Google Maps-like interface as a neat web-bonus thing. It would totally blow this fan-made map of Springfield out of the water in terms of sheer coolness.

Also, I'm pretty pleased that the aforementioned video contains a a mostly uninterrupted version of Troy McClure's welcoming introduction (skip to 1:04), Phil Hartman's only appearance in a Simpsons video game, because people on YouTube skip over all the dialogue parts for some inexplicable reason. It's a good Simpsons quote, despite being written by some intern for a point-and-click CD-ROM non-game:

Welcome to Springfield! I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me as town spokesman from such computer travel guides as {Smother Me In Shreveport} and {Living, Loving and Lubbock}. Of course, we all know Springfield for its award-winning dandelions and as birthplace of the glove compartment. But that's merely scratching the surface of a place the great Calvin Coolidge once labelled, "a pea-sized town with lima bean-sized dreams." So, warm up your clicking finger and let's explore a land the poets call Springfield, USA!

The titles of the two other travel guides would vary each time. Here's a complete (?) list of the other titles, which are curiously omitted from The Simpsons Archive (yet they include stuff from a screensaver???):

  • Eeney-Meeney-Miney Murphreesborough
  • Yuma: It's Seniorific
  • Smother Me In Shreveport
  • Living, Loving and Lubbock
  • Duluth, It'll Grow On You
  • Suddenly Tulsa
  • Freedonia: Gateway to Wichita
  • Fairbanks Needs Women
  • I Left My Soul In Sacramento
  • Tender Lovin' Newark
  • Hats Off To Fargo
  • Pinch Me, I'm In Boise
I think I speak for everyone when I say it's time we stop fetishizing 8-bit Nintendo games and start a virtual storybook revival.