We first learned that The Simpsons Arcade would be coming home to Xbox Live Arcade back in November, but news has been scarce since then. Just recently, however Xbox360Achievements.org published the game's full Achievement list. That alone is good news because it usually means that the game will come out within the next month or two. A quick glance at the Achievements themselves reveals another interesting fact: both the English (worldwide) and Japanese versions will be included in the port.
The inclusion of the Japanese version of The Simpsons Arcade in this release doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Konami's previous beat-em-up port, X-Men Arcade, also allowed players to select between English and Japanese ROMs. X-Men is sometimes criticized for its poor online play, and yet many beat-em-up fans like myself were just happy to finally own such a classic game. The ability to spam mutant powers in the Japanese X-men took the sport out of the game, but it was still a cool bonus.
The Japanese version of The Simpsons Arcade doesn't mess with the gameplay mechanics too heavily, though it still features a number of slight differences. For starters, the scoring system is much more elaborate. Instead of just getting a single point for every enemy or boss defeated, each enemy type is worth a different number of points. You even get bonuses for your remaining health at the end of a level and for finishing the bonus games with time to spare. These changes should make for more interesting leaderboards if nothing else.
Japan's Simpsons Arcade also has a greater abundance of weapons and items to pick up. These include a few unique weapons like a large boulder and nuclear bombs. The slingshot weapon also kills enemies with one hit, and weapons can now be used in the air. Last but not least, the final boss drops fruit when defeated, and a few extra Simpsons characters show up in the ending. For a more detailed rundown of version differences, check out The Cutting Room Floor, who provided these arcade screenshots.
The Simpsons first appeared in arcades in 1991. In addition to 4-player co-op brawling, it featured team-up moves, fantastic graphics, copious voice samples from the show, and occasionally bizarre interpretations of Simpsons characters. The Simpsons Arcade XBLA will have 4 player online and offline co-op, a new Survival mode, and the choice of ROMs I described earlier. Co-Optimus will let you know as soon as Konami announces a release date.