Update: As of March 1st, 2021, there is a version 4 that’s available in public beta form!
I’ve been looking for a reason to go back and play Simpson’s Hit and Run for awhile. Then I saw that the game has become abandonware and it was like the world handed me a gift saying, ‘Andy, play this next!’ I’m guessing that when Vivendi merged with Activision back in 2008, the Hit and Run IP either wasn’t renewed. A lot of other Vivendi games are abandonware now as well.
A modder by the name of Lucas Cardellini was really ahead of the meta when it came to developing Hit and Run modding tools. He was releasing retextured video just a few years after the game came out just for the sheer joy of doing it. Within the past few years he assembled a group of indie devs known as Donut Team. So far they’ve released three pretty serious chunks of content, those being Donut Mod, Road Rage Returns and network multiplayer. Today I’ll be covering how to run Hit and Run on a modern Windows OS and my thoughts on Donut Mod, then in the next few days I will be reviewing Road Rage Returns.
Installing Hit & Run
If you’re download Hit and Run from an abandonware site, you’re more than likely going to be downloading commercial disc images. I downloaded some CUE/BIN image files from MyAbandonware so I had to use a 3rd party virtual mounting software assistance. I would recommend installing Daemon Tools Lite as I’ve used their software for a decade without any issues. They’re also the only free mounting software I’ve found that isn’t a trial or packed with bloatware.
Once Hit and Run is installed, ignore using a crack on the main EXE and just download Lucas’ Simpsons Hit & Run Mod Launcher. This chunk of software was developed by Lucas from DonutTeam. Once you’ve got everything downloaded, unzip everything and drop the contents into your Hit & Run folder. Now you’ve got a Mods folder in your directory and it’s as easy as dropping mod files in there for the custom launcher to use. I’d recommend sending a shortcut of the executable to your desktop as we’ll be exclusively using it to launch the game from here on out.
Lucas’ launcher allows you to set the resolution you want to be playing at and has a few customization options. Default is for optimal performance without any cheating but it really lets you tweak what ever you want about the game. Hit and Run natively has Xinput support so Xbox controllers will work right out of the gate. I use a PS4 controller so I put the launcher into my Steam library and booted it up using Big Picture mode. From here, I used Steam’s built-in wrapper to bind mouse/keyboard inputs to my Dualshock 4 controls.
What is Donut Mod?
If you want to know exactly what Donut Mod does differently, their changelog can be found here but I would say its biggest claim to fame would be extending each mission with new objectives with a few gameplay tweaks and retextures.
It really is quite impressive how Donut Team was able to provide so much additional objectives so seamlessly. I think how they’ve done this is by compiling the voice clips of all the NPC interactions across seven levels and using only the best interactions to form three ‘super levels’ out of them. It’s like they’ve approached Hit and Run the same way Neil Cicerega approaches making an album only All-Star by Smash Mouth is replaced by the idea of road kill.
To give you an example of this, the first mission tasks you with buying ice cream and soda from the Kwik-E-Mart. Some unused voice clips of Bart giving tutorial instructions have been restored and when you talk to Apu, the ice cream and soda have been split into two separate objects you must collection. Typically, this is where you get a Mission Complete but today, it’s not over yet. Head outside and Bart will instruct you to get back into your car. Pulling away from the Kwik-E-Mart, you’ll notice an ice cream with Marge’s head made of ice cream on top chilling at the stop light. From here, you have to ram the truck many times until you’ve collected enough ice cream to take back to Marge and only then will you complete the mission.
Another mission in Bart’s level has you destroying cell phones for Professor Frink. Normally you’ll only be destroy cell phone users’ vehicles but this time around you also have to destroying Cells-4-Cheap stands that are popping up all over town. This mission stood out to me because it was the first that made me realize that Donut Team hasn’t just been remixing missions but also adding completely custom content. I believe there was an original music track playing in the background as well and the whole thing felt like a traditional collectation where I was playing as a car. I loved it!
Speaking of collectibles, each character has three new costumes they can unlock. All of them are reskins of existing costumes but they all felt like varying degrees of clever. Many NPC vehicles have been reskinned as well. I think my favorite was Frink’s hover car with its sleek red chassy and gold trim. Baseball cards and been relocated too though many are placed in more obvious locations than the original game. That being said, I didn’t locate them all so maybe the devs still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Within the changelog, I saw that some secret NPCs have been added to each level as well and they must be pretty damn well hidden because I didn’t find a single on while wreaking havoc between missions.
Missions seemed to range from ‘first try, idiot’ to ‘this driving AI is broken’ levels of difficulty. If you find yourself beating Donut Mod too quickly, the developers put in Hellfish mode. It’s basically a hard mode that incorporates little tweaks to each mission forcing you into playing as optimal as possible. Mostly you’ll notice that timers expire a lot soon but also adjustments to the gameplay like cops being more aggressive, cars you must destroy need more damage to explode or even some enemy AI making smarter choices.
Some sacrifices did have to be made to make this mod as polished as it is. Like I said earlier, the original seven levels have been shrunk down to three. Story wise, this is kind of a weird change because it leaves a lot of questions just unanswered. Maybe Donut Mod 2 will be picking up where this one leaves off. You can watch the trailer for that on the Donut Team website.
If you enjoy the driving mayhem, crude humor and all around nostalgia of played Hit and Run then this mod would be an easy sell. Its missions are just similar enough that trying to figure out where things are different for the three or so hour campaign can be a joy all in its own plus the added content is legitimately engaging. If you haven’t ever played Hit and Run, however, I’d probably recommend you play the main game first before checking out his mod.
Big shouts to Donut Team for putting together this mashup mod! Donut Mod 4 (2?) looks really great, I’m hope you guys are having fun making it! Follow @DonutTeam on Twitter if you want to stay up to date. Also, please ask them for more song covers. Maybe an ‘acapella’ sound effects packs? That’d be a great addition to the hipster Lisa skin, just saying!
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