Finally managed to get around and clearing the mod! The first image was my totals after doing a Story Mission only run, and then doing the rest after clearing the Story Missions (the Billy West 'Vanity Fair' gag was probably the one I struggled with finding the most!). Played through with the Copyrighted soundtrack since I was playing through the mod privately, and have not touched the non-Copyrighted version of the soundtrack. All Missions that gave you the choice of vehicle I simply did with the Green Ferrini, so I haven't really tested the other vehicles in other missions. Just wanted to really quickly write some of my thoughts and share some feedback I had.
The thing that really 'wowed' me going in that I also observed in the preview videos was the absurd amount of (well done!) custom animations. Even as soon as you boot up the mod, the effort that went into the animations is apparent with the custom 'logo reveal' RMV. It's something that wasn't necessary to animate at all, but gives the player a pretty good impression of what the mod entails, Homer crossing over with a bunch of other IPs. I also noticed in said RMV the detail of your South Park-sona being animated with different timing from the other characters in order to emulate the 'choppy' effect the actual show has. After being so used to Hit & Run's vanilla cutscenes, it was really nice to see a more expressive Homer in the pre-rendered videos as well. I'm unsure if it was due to the short time Radical had to reconstruct the cutscenes after re-doing the models or some type of weird mandate, but usually Homer always wears a blank expression, even when his body language and voice tone feels like it's trying to express something different. Even if some of these movements might be considered a bit cartoon-y with the exaggeration, it's a breath of fresh air to see Homer emote a little more.
This attention to detail also extends into gameplay. I was pleasantly surprised to see completely custom 'NPC conversation' animations with Wallace that also ended up extending to several other characters. Wario's in particular after a particular event in L1M7 made me chuckle pretty hard. There's also a non-traditional cutscene in the same mission right before the 'true' final stage that caught me off-guard.
Another thing that caught me off-guard was the decision to remove the Wasp Cameras entirely as an optional bonus/collectible. I can however respect the decision to axe them given the limitations that come with creating them (the trigger radius for them spawning having to be kept small to keep them a decent challenge to find, actually working with the model itself). I also feel it's acceptable given that the amount of purchasable collectibles in the mod is quite low. I was able to nab everything in my revisit, and I didn't break all of the Buzz Cola crates and Eric Cartman Vending Machines. I also lost 50 coins in my successful attempt of Humane Pest Control (L1M6)
, which should hopefully solidify that it's relatively easy going to nab all the purchasable collectibles if the player is at least partially
familiar with the original map or willing to drive ever so slightly out of the way.
Despite the previously mentioned removal of the Wasp Cameras, I feel the map has a lot of really interesting custom stuff that encourages exploration, and there are still the Collector Cards to nab. Said Collector Cards are actually hidden quite well admist some of the newer interiors, and were really enjoyable to find. They felt like nice substitutions to gag hunting in regular Hit & Run interiors and something I personally prefer, mainly due to Hit & Run really not making it clear what
is an interior gag. I'm looking at you, Level 2's Flaming Moe's gag
. I did however notice that two quotes for Wallace's card and the Bonus Mission host cards were left in by accident, however:
(I assume this wasn't intentional and feel the need to point this out, as the other 'character quotes' were removed entirely from the mod so no strings show up scrolling at the bottom.)
Back to that juicy custom terrain on the Evergreen map, though! There's honestly so much custom stuff present in the modified Evergreen Terrace, that it almost ends up feeling like an entirely new map. At least in the same way it did to me as a kid going from Level 4 to Level 7. Stuff like the Blue House being removed in favor of Hank Hill's house really makes the start of Evergreen feel a lot less congested. The Firetruck Crash being removed and remodelling the second Krusty Burger to be Strickland Propane was one thing, but seeing it have plot relevance in the form of hosting the start of L1M2 and coming back to it later in L1M7 was a nice surprise. The Krusty Burger otherwise never really feels as if it serves a purpose until Level 7 with Flaming Tires (L7BM1)
. The Captain Toad Mission sections and Pipe Plaza's return were really cool, and I'm glad as a dumb little bonus/Mario 64 nod, the player can return to Pipe Plaza without having to enter Hawkodile's Challenge again. I don't really have too much to say about said Challenges. Not that it's a bad thing! I appreciate the simplicity of them given that all three have to be cleared to be qualified for the unlockable. I do have a little bit to say about the Story Missions/Bonus Mission, though.
Spoiler: Mission 1: The Wrench Caper
Starting off the mod for real in terms of mission content, this was a cute use of AdditionalScriptFunctionality and I suppose feels like a cleaner alternative to grabbing some items that just randomly spawned in. Compared to later in missions in the mod, this one has relatively little NPC interaction outside of starting the mission with Hank Hill and clearing it by talking to Wallace. I feel this was intentional given that most of the major NPCs that Homer interacts with in order to progress through the story are all stuck at The Simpsons Household. Well, at least Hank and Wallace. I actually slightly expected Larry to have a bit more prominence in the mod given him being present in the crash, and was surprised to see he was regulated to Hawkodile's Challenge.
I do feel as if perhaps the mission's initial start mislead me. I actually assumed that because the start of the mission required you to collect the two wrenches in the nearby area (the one near Hank Hill's House and the one where your NPC is placed), similar stages were going to follow suit and require that the player travel to an area to collect more than one wrench in the locations you're asked to drive to. I would say the difficulty of location these wrenches helps slightly, but it still felt odd to me that the most 'involved' stage collecting wise is the first one the player has to do. I feel adding secondary wrenches to some of the areas you're asked to travel to, or removing the wrench near the house where your NPC spawns into would fix the issue? Sort of escalates the difficulty a bit more with each wrench where things start off simple with grabbing the first wrench that's basically right by the player, and then they're asked to do drive more out of the way/collect more each time. Adding to the panic of getting back on time as they realize each wrench is a bit more complicated.
Spoiler: Mission 2: Get the Loaf out
This was a pretty cute mission that felt like a harder Bonestorm Storm with a bit more going on to keep the player engaged. Anything with Wallace and Gromit is automatically a bit more engaging, really. Dale fighting back with some custom dialog was really nice to have, and the custom camera work in showcasing the areas you need to deliver the bread to were nice to see! While not all of them were included in the initial camera shots, the mission does give the player the hint to pay attention to the radar to figure out where they need to go. It wasn't necessary to have this hint as I felt the radar wasn't terribly confusing, but it's nice to have and let's the player know there's a bit more than what they need to pay attention for. I did initially take this message the wrong way, and thought this was hinting at an AI controlled car harassing the player that spawns midway through the route (like Hank or Bill trying to help out Dale after being robbed, or even Dale coming back in a different outfit and truck). Fun stuff, though! My only other suggestion would perhaps be adding a 'TASK COMPLETE!' message after finishing all 7 delivery locations, or a checkpoint after beating Dale (unless you ran into technical issues with making that work).
Spoiler: Mission 3:The Propane Game
Had to take a break I was so upset to learn someone actually acted out and stole propane. After that, I righted the wronged and collected that propane. It's another forced car mission with a slower vehicle which I really don't mind. I think challenges with slightly slower vehicles as little breaks inbetween can be a lot of fun! I quite enjoyed Ketchup Logic (L4M3) and Going to the 'Lu (L6M1) for these reasons. The propane tanks in the item collection stage were reasonably spread out and it wasn't too overwhelming, though I sort of wish the one near the Simpsons Household was relocated to be between Hank Hill's house to encourage usage of the redesigned Blue House shortcut area (basically placing one right around here
Seeing Smithers and Burns again is neat. Unlike Larry, I figured they were a one-off thing since the player kind of expects the Simpsons cast in this game and had a fair amount of time to be familiar with them there. Homer's family was also more or less cut from the mod, so I figured this sort of Simpsons cast interaction was the norm and Homer was the only 'prominent' Simpsons character that you see (not including ambient NPCs). The chase is decently challenging and I was surprised on my first run to see Smithers stay pretty close to my tail. A fun way to cap off the little collection aspect of the mission. The cutscene showing Smithers pulling out wasn't necessary at all as well, but very cool to see!
Spoiler: Mission 4: The Lost Items
I'd say this mission is the turning point of the mod using a lot more customized stuff feels more prominent. I mean this in a positive way! It starts out as an item collection mission that the mod purposefully mocks as 'GETTING A BIT REPETITIVE' in one of it's stage messages, but stuff like the item tracker and the crate attached to the back of the player's vehicle help it stand out a bit more. I think the escalation of difficulty with the item collection is also handled slightly nicer than in L1M1 thanks to the timers and the way the route is constructed (asking the player to turn back 1 item into the mission). I did find some of the punctuation of some of the messages slightly odd and think some explanation points might make said messages read a bit nicer.
Spoiler: Such as the one here.
Ending it with a '!' might give it more emotion?
I also found the triggersphere usage slightly odd. I feel it might've been better to have a 'fake item trigger' akin to Rigor Motors (L7M1)
. Basically, that mission uses the 'boards' item twice for two back-to-back stages. One where you have to drive to Cletus', and one where the player actually picks up the boards. Because the item's graphic is in the same place, it doesn't look as if the player is collecting it the first time around and the message is just 'updating' the closer you get to Cletus'. It's difficult to explain in words, but actually playing the mission and viewing the m1i.mfk makes it pretty clear. I think something like this might make it feel as if the player is actually 'discovering' the items more?
Feathers Mcgraw showing up as a 'twist villain' afterwards to break things up a bit was interesting. The chase stage is decently well done! The only thing that I really noticed that also seems to extend into the 'destruction' stage with that fiend is that the recolored Honor Roller's shadow looked a bit odd
. I don't believe it's using the proper shadow offset configuration for that particular vehicle? Swiping it from the Honor Roller shadows used in Level 2's Street Races seem like it would fix it.
Afterwards, we get another cool little custom cutscene showing the penguin bots being deployed. I did notice however that since the player is placed in their vehicle out of bounds to initiate the cutscene you can wiggle around a bit. I was able to bring my car into a smoking condition by banging around using the movement keys? The player can also use the reset key in order to spawn back in bounds. I'm not sure if it would actually work, but it almost seems like forcing the player out of bounds outside of their car might fix both issues?
The actual fight itself was pretty cute. A little more challenging than the Dale fight since there's less terrain you're surrounded in to sandwich the AI into (that, and the Green Ferrini lacks less of a punch). My only suggestion here would be to add a 'TASK COMPLETE!' message after destroying it to make the feedback a little gratifying.
The track to the Power Plant and the bot duo fight I don't have too much to comment on. The fight itself isn't terrible, but it feels strange to have a long drive over to the area, and then drive back to the Kwik-E-Mart area where you fought the first bot where you're asked to do a similar task. Having two AI harassers I don't think makes it feel super different from the first bot fight, and McGraw's fight ends up playing out a bit similar to the first bot fight. I feel the mission's flow might improve a bit more if the McGraw fight was moved to the Power Plant Parking Lot? As an added extra threat, there's another penguin bot the player has to keep an eye on while fighting McGraw. The bot could even be a 'Titanium Penguin Bot' that can't be destroyed.
The end RMV for the mission was really nice to have and a fun way to cap off the mission!
Spoiler: Mission 5:Springfield Rally Days
The concepts this mission had were pretty interesting! I like the idea of a forced 'Street Race' in the form of a Story Mission and there are some gimmicks in here that I think makes each one of the Street Races feel more fleshed out. Having a checkpoint race, followed by the AI harassing you as you race backwards is a fun concept. Likewise, same with trying to have to avoid the AI after reaching an area for a set amount of time is cool. I almost kind of wish the third and final race had an extra gimmick, as I feel the 'whole map lap' race is already done in the Victor's Lap challenge. I struggle to think of a substitute though outside of maybe utilizing Pipe Plaza as part of the race somehow? Regardless, I enjoyed the repurposing of South Park Rally's dialog and the Mayor's custom animations at the end were fun! I do think vanilla L1M5's victory jingle feels slightly odd here with the heavy emphasis on the banjo in the new main track. Perhaps changing this to Cletus' end jingle would be nice?
Spoiler: Mission 6: Humane Pest Control
This and L1M7 are probably my favorite missions of the entire bunch! More Wallace and Gromit, and item collection with some interesting visual feedback through the form of the rabbits slowly appearing in the back of the forced vehicle you're assigned. The custom costume for Homer that's exclusive to this mission with the net to sell the illusion of being on a pest control mission really helped with things too, I feel. The rabbit placement encourages a good healthy use of platforming and vehicle driving.
I unfortunately did also encounter the crash that Maz and Montenstein reported before me, but I was intentionally trying to remember what Maz stated when attempting the mission to see if I also got it and saved beforehand. What was stated earlier was correct and it feels pretty easy to trigger - You can reset while in Burns' Mansion to load into the Power Plant Tunnel half-loaded. While it makes the mission easier, it caused a crash during the bunny collection stage in the Power Plant Interior. I did manage to capture an image of where my game crashed at, though I assume this information isn't exactly very helpful:
Retrying that, I got a pretty big laugh out of the rabbit in Homer's office being a Rabbid and actually seeing that reflected in the vehicle I was driving. This is also where I lost the 50 coins I mentioned earlier in the 'General' section, as I was trying to see if I could do the stage without exiting my vehicle.
My only other bit of feedback is that it might be nice to have the music continue as you step out of the car to hide the L1M6 'exiting vehicle' jingle. Like with L1M5, I think it clashes a bit with the new custom track you have.
Spoiler: Mission 7: The Homicidal Beaniac
The beginning of this mission alone had a concept I really liked and always thought about doing, but didn't actually know how to do: A punishment for tailing a vehicle in a 'follow' segment too closely. And it's really well polished in that regard thanks to the custom animations. Mr. Bean has a really clear 'about to attack' and 'attacking' phase, so the players watching the top of the vehicle know there's a consequence for getting too close and when to back off. In addition, there's a hint in the Stage Message indicating there's a consequence for following too close at the wrong time. Really lovely stuff and it makes it a breath of fresh air!
I did manage to 'softlock' the mission (you're forced to purposefully fail/reset) in the area where the gang travels to Hank's house to build the truck contraption. I can't remember exactly what I did, but I unpaused the game, got Hank into the truck, and then backed out of it before the 'fadeout' cutscene was done. By doing this, the game won't let the player into the truck and they can't clear the next stage? It's my fault for intentionally screwing around here, but it might be worth keeping Hank further away from the truck to prevent an accidental input like this happening?
Outside of that softlock, the actual second phase of using the contraption to shoot down Bean's plane is a lot of fun and works surprisingly well. Again, thanks to the animations and the red cursor indicating the trajectory of the projectile. It's a lot of fun and makes for a wonderful experience.
I also enjoyed the Red Boxes scattered throughout the Level having a narrative payoff, as I initially assumed they were meant to mark some sort of custom gag or had some sort of secret in them. They're scattered throughout the entire Level in just a way that you wonder (and your NPC makes note of this), but by the end of the mod it's something you've kind of forgotten about if you went in blind. The diffusing with Wario was really fun (and I adored the custom animation of him telling Homer to get out of here).
The SpongeBot boss fight I saw coming. No, not because I watched the YouTube video playthrough, but because I saw that it was a thing elsewhere and figured it was coming. Again, really expressive animations and the transition into the fight is really cool! It's neat seeing a boss fight in Hit & Run where object/switch interaction is needed to complete the fight and I can tell you had a lot of fun just by the animations alone!
I did end up having to consult the video guide you shared earlier, however. While it's a really cool concept, fighting this boss felt a bit clunkier than the previous AI vehicle fights. I had to restart/fail a good couple of times before I got a winning run, and it sadly felt more like luck to me? The RMV prior to the start of the fight made me focus primarily on the highest Wario Cannon in the Chum Bucket Lab. After getting there, none of my shots really seemed to do anything and the robot was kind of stuck in a corner. On later runs, I just focused on the bottom cannons, but still wasn't really feeling like I was getting anywhere because I was just spamming the cannon hoping my shots would get in. I eventually watched the video guide to get an idea of what a winning run looked like. I saw that you were using the lower cannon that you spawn near, and 'timing' the shots rather than rapidly spamming the cannon fire. The Stage Message feels as if it's alluding to timing being the key ("USE CANNONS AND WATCH FOR ITS ATTACK!"), but it didn't click with me until after I watched the video. I feel rewriting the message to hint towards timing being key might help? Something like "DESTROY MR. BEAN'S SPONGEBOT, TIME YOUR CANNON SHOTS WHEN HE'S CLOSE!" would be more clear I think. I'm also curious if it's possible to bait the SpongeBot once he gets into a corner? It seems once that happens, the run is essentially over. I bring this up as I'm not sure if there's a consistent setup to baiting the robot to another cannon and using that. Is there any footage of the highest cannon being used to clear the mission, by chance? It's still a super cool setpiece and I love seeing experimental stuff such as this to give Hit & Run more traditional fights, but it feels a bit too luck-based and I feel it might be because I'm just a huge dumb-dumb. Some sort of transparent 'cursor' to give an idea of where the shots will land I think might also help a bit too.
The ending RMV is also great. Enjoyed the dumb little Woody cameo and Wallace being the one to finish off Mr. Bean (I was honestly expecting him to get away).
Spoiler: Bonus Mission: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
This was the mission I was the most excited to try out, and it was really fun! I did see the messages prior and the in-game message encouraging that the player start the mission with Homer's default costume to circumvent a crash, so I approached actually starting the mission with caution. I'm not sure if it would actually work in execution, but I think a 'locked' stage at the start of the mission informing the player it won't progress further until you change outfits would capture the player's attention better:
SetHUDIcon( "tshirt" );
AddObjective( "buyskin", "homer" );
(Again, I'm unsure if this would actually have the desired effect
, but it might be a nice extra pre-caution in addition to the skin shop right beside the Bonus Mission start point.)
The actual Bonus Mission replicates the platforming gameplay style of Captain Toad quite nicely by forbidding jumps and sprinting, and the course you navigate is well-designed so you don't quite miss the sprint feature or jumping. It's nice to see little gameplay segments like this tailored towards platforming, and it's even cooler to see one that restricts what you can do while making it fun.
I was a bit confused by the Green Stars and thought I initially had to find a way to the first Green Star hidden somewhere in the paths, so I took the far right 'cloud' path thinking there would be a way to the Green Star. I tried with a couple of other routes and ended up running out of time, and eventually found the right path. I'm curious if there's a reason why the Green Stars have to be collected in a specific order as opposed to being items out in the open that can be grabbed in any order? Basically a 'delivery' stage. The segment is compact enough that I didn't mind the restart from taking the wrong paths, but it was something I was wondering in the back of my head.
The reward was well worth it, too. The Star-Powered Ferrini looks cool and feels great to have!
That's about everything I have to say about the mod during my playtime with it. A lot of the custom stuff is really well implemented and more visually impressive in terms of expressiveness than the vanilla game (hiya, Homer!). I got a couple of laughs out of the gags too. Quagmire's dance, the Rabbid in L1M6, and the Billy West interview were all great. You bet that I actually sat through the Billy West interview in it's entirety because I will listen to that even in potato quality. A lot of the more experimental mission structure is really fun to travel through, with some minor hiccups. It was worth it for the latter half of Level 1 and just finding new things to explore in Evergreen again. I'd very highly recommend it! Thank you for listening to my ramble!