Review by sanhedrin
"Violence! Greed! Come on down!"
If videogames can be considered an art, then Smash TV is a satirical masterpiece, with social criticism that goes beyond the ultra-violence the game features. If videogames weren’t such a marginalized medium in our culture, Smash TV would have been remembered as a biting work of satire that mirrors the violence and greed our country holds dear.
So I guess it’s the future, and a gameshow called Smash TV is all the rage. Two contestants, dressed like the challengers from American Gladiators, are sent in to battle hoards of clones, lackeys, cyborgs, and robots by the show’s announcer, a stereotypical game show host with a bikini girl on each arm. This game predates the “reality shows” that fill our TV grids today, but we seem to be edging ever closer to a real Smash TV.
The controls are really a highlight of this game. One joystick moves your character while another fires your weapon. So you can move in any direction and fire in any direction as well. This is important, as it makes it possible to take out the clumps of slow-moving enemies that pursue you while running in the opposite direction. With no limits on ammo, the fact that you’ll basically be firing continuously, and the seemingly limitless number of baddies, the game seems like an incredible bloody massacre. Seriously, few games can match the sheer volume of carnage this game contains.
A lot of the game’s humor comes from the “fabulous prizes” you can pick up along the way. Besides stacks of bills and gold and silver bars, you’ll be picking up countless “brand new VCRs,” toasters, and other gameshow prize staples. There should be some stat the game keeps for you that shows the ratio of VCRs you’ve collected to enemies you’ve slaughtered for them.
Special weapons are a necessary component of a game like this but don’t really stand out. What’s memorable to me are the shields. Shield circles surround you when you enter the arena after losing a life. The shield kills on contact, so an important tactic is to wade into a clump of baddies by the entrance on your way to a safer position. Shields can be picked up as a powerup, and the same tactics apply. It’s such a rewarding feeling to slaughter an entire gang of enemies by touch alone.
Smash TV is yet another classic arcade game that needs to be updated for the modern consoles. Reality shows, which are all really gameshows, are the biggest thing going. They just need to add a bonus round after your contestant has collected enough toasters where a hoard of screaming women in bridal gowns swarm your guys, and the last one living is married to your contestant in a service officiated by the game show host.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/18/02, Updated 10/18/02
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