Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Smash TV originated as a mega-hit arcade game by Williams and was itself a souped up version of the 1982 classic coin-op Robotron 2084.
Enter a series of single screen arenas, blast everything that attacks you and pick up the extra weapons to help you stay alive.
Can you imagine life without Paul Daniels? Is it possible to envisage a world not graced by Michael Barrymore? And lovable 'uncle' Bob Monkhouse; is there meaning to an existence bereft of 'The $64,000 question'? Well frankly yes, there is. And life would be a hell of a lot better without all that garbage on TV but, wouldn't you know, it's popular!
And so game show popularity flowed on unabated into the next century and lo, the games became ever less intelligent and ever more physical until someone said "Hey, let's dump all the questions and make them kill to win". That is how Smash TV was born, combining the mayhem of 'The Word' and the prizes of 'Every second counts'. One or two contestants (Morris and his nephew Keith from Norwich in this case) don laser guns and a touch of make-up for the cameras and enter a series of arenas, with the sole intent of killing everything that moves and picking up all the toasters and cash strewn around.
The main snag in this murder-fest is the fact the TV company want to keep their costs down. They'll throw everything they've got at you - club wielding maniacs, exploding fatmen, even tanks - to stop you making it away with your gains. The only concession you have is the extra weapons they deign to offer you on a limited basis. But these only last a short time and soon it's time for your reckoning with the mega bosses at the end of each arena complex.
Every game show needs a host, and 'Bob' and 'Paul' have been dumped in favour of the slick 'Damian Green', great grandson of the legendary Hughie. he seems to be on your side, but he's one of those types who doesn't like the punters outshining the real star.
So strap up, power up, and wise up to the 'Fifteen to One' of the twenty-first century - that's the odds on you surviving...
The two-player option is a very important part of the fun that is Smash TV. On this version, the option of playing two players is set before the game begins. Both play simultaneously, and the aim is to work as a team. However, only one special weapon appears at any one time, so fighting over bonuses is as much a feature as cooperation.
There are 3 levels of Smash TV, each ending with a massive cybernetic monster to subdue and vanquish. A level is made up of a network of separate arenas connected by corridors. You get to view a map of each level, with the bosses position marked, after completing the first arena. On the first level the frightsome Mutoid Man rolls out on tank tracks, shooting from his laser-eyes. On level two Scarface fires globules of death from his hideous dial. Hit him enough times to reveal his unattractive skull features. The third boss emerges from the sandy floor of the next level - a grotesque serpent who needs multiple hits to his towering head. Finally, after a quick skip through some heavily defended rooms you face Damian Green, the host himself, depicted in his true bio-mechanical finery. Decline his invitation to eat eyeball, instead give him a facefull.
It would be so nice if this was one of those games where we could say that looks are deceiving. On the face of it the screenshots look pretty bad, and the game seems worse when you see the terribly-animated characters limping and flickering around the screen. Unfortunately looks are not deceiving. Smash TV looks bad, sounds bad and plays very badly indeed. The controls are unresponsive, and when they do respond most often send you in the wrong direction, lurching to your doom at the hands of another formless character. The control system itself isn't that bad in theory, but the practice is a different matter, with the gun not turning when you want it to or locking in the wrong direction and leading to many a frustrating death. Master System Smash TV also features staggeringly few enemies on screen at a time, and seeing as the piles of bodies to blast was the major attraction of the coin-op this makes a mockery of the title. If wobbling-around-a-bland-background-occasionally-killing-a-single-club-wielding-thug-then-dying-without-being-hit-thanks-to-hopeless-collision-detection is your bag, Master System Smash TV is for you, you sad case.
I loaded Smash TV up. Hmmm title screen looks just like the MD's. So does the intro. Hey maybe this is going to be - aaaaaargh it's terrible. Yes readers, a terrible shock. This isn't really Smash TV. Well, not 'Smash TV - the incredibly fun arcade game', or 'Smash TV - the reasonably presentable Megadrive game'. No, this is 'Smash TV - the hideous Master System travesty, crown prince of 8-bit atrocities.' The brilliant graphics and plethora of enemies of the original have been converted to a few jumpy sprites careening round a grey backdrop, endowed with the mysterious powers of teleportation that allow them to appear pretty much anywhere. The carefree programmers have decided to dispense with such dull rigours of collision detection, so feel free to die for no reason. The inability to portray more than eight sprites means the mass mayhem looks more like a mild fracas, leaving the gameplay completely unrecognisable and totally awful. Though all the levels of the original have been added, what's the point when it is ludicrously difficult and unfair, as well as innately tedious. The plea of hardware restrictions doesn't let it off the hook, though. Basic playability has been left out of the programming process, with weapons totally inadequate to the task. Even the inferiorities of the Master System allow a better conversion than this. The whole debacle is revolting and shambolic. Smash TV fans shouldn't be tempted because they won't recognise their fave game in this portrayal.