It's 1999 and the nation's favourite gameshow is the Running Man-style Smash TV, a violent blend of the movie Rollerball and The Price Is Right. Basically, screw this game up and you're dead meat (but that's got to be preferable to a Paul Daniels show!). With glittery suit and rotating bow tie firmly in place, Mark Caswell becomes the MC for an evening's carnage. IT'S SHOWTIME!
£10.99 (cassette only)
People sure have weird tastes in the year 1999, getting their kicks by watching the most popular gameshow on TV - the sensational and ultra-violent Smash TV. Based on the highly successful Williams coin-op, you play a contestant who risks life and limb in three nightmarish game zones. Armed with a low-powered gun, you enter the hazardous world of the TV studio, and so the fight of your life begins.
Smash TV starts in an empty studio with exits at the four main points of the compass. Empty, that is, until the savage denizens of the game appear and try to shorten your life expectancy by a good few years. They burst out any of the four exits and, in true Robotron style, stick the boot in (very hard). They include psychopathic droids, baseball bat-wielding maniacs, tanks, rolling balls (no comment) and white tadpoles (supposedly poisonous snakes).
I'LL BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR!
As you battle through the maze of single-screen studio sets, there are plenty of bonuses to pick up, which divide into two types: weapons and prizes. Weapons include grenades, rocket launchers, spinning shurikens and mace balls, and believe me, they're vital to survival on later levels. Prizes are cash and gold, or luxury items such as cars, holidays, washing machines and so on (cuddly toy?).
But collecting objects isn't the main point of the game; you're there to kick arse (pardon my French) and get out in one piece (two at the most).
Of course, hits to your frail body mount up, and getting whacked over the bonce once too often means you'll be playing your little golden harp before you can say 'Leslie Crowther'. But thankfully there are energy top-ups available (in the shape of hearts) - watch out for them.
WHO'S THAT FAT BA-
If, by any chance, you survive to the end of a level you can't afford to relax 'cos you then have to face a big guardian. On level one, it's a skinhead with tractor wheels welded where his legs should be. You may laugh at him now but he's one mean dude. However, a few choice blasts of the old rocket launcher should turn him into a neat little scrap heap. [If you survive then] your cash and prizes are totted up and added to your score, then it's on to level two, whose denizens would make Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter look like a boy scout.
And finally, to round Smash TV off, you have to face the gameshow host himself (brown trouser time, methinks). He's huge, mean and the only thing that stands between you and continued good health. Personally, I'd prefer to be a contestant on The Generation Game - at least Bruce Forsyth doesn't brandish a huge gun (he leaves the strong-arm stuff to the bint with the short skirts).
LIFE IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
The arcade version of Smash TV is among my all-time top five awesome games. When someone (I forget who) told me Ocean were converting this to the Speccy, I thought 'no way', but it seems I have to eat my words, (watch that diet, Corky - Ed).
Probe had a hand in the programming of this product, which just oozes quality. The sprites are little short of amazing. They're bold, colourful and they don't half shift! On my first few games I had a tough time keeping track of the enemy forces as they sped around the screen. But despite early feelings of frustration, the darn game is so playable you have to come back for just one more go.
The arcade version is very violent, sporting several types of gory death for intrepid heroes. Sadly, these have been cut from the computer version (Corky, you're a sicko! - Ed), but death is still only just around the corner for the foolhardy player.
As far as I'm concerned, Smash TV is one of the best games to have appeared this year, and so it deserves one of the highest marks that I've ever awarded a game. Well done, Ocean.
If you have any Amiga-owning buddies who think the Spectrum belongs in a museum along with the counting frame and Betamax video recorder, sit them in front of your machine and load up a copy of Ocean's Smash TV. It'll have them crying into their £30-a-throw software collection, wishing they hadn't wasted their money upgrading. Smash TV is quite simply the best game I've ever seen on the Spectrum, and the perfect answer for those who think the Speccy is dying. Two short years ago, I didn't think it possible to use so much colour with so little clash. For my money, the sheer speed and playability of Smash TV make it the best game yet. Ocean have a real winner on their hands.
I was rather miffed I when I found out that this game has got absolutely nothing to do with smashing TV sets at all. I mean, I was really looking forward to kicking in a few cathode ray tubes and then Ocean turned round and told me that Smash TV is actually a gameshow of the future. (A bit like The Running Man. Probably.)
Being all high-tec and futuristic, this gameshow is played for huge amounts of money and, like all futuristic things, it's also dead violent and frantic. You play a contestant who, rather stupidly, volunteers to appear on the show (Actually, this is quite a good thing - after all, what's a gameshow without contestants?) You're welcomed to 'Come On Down' by the host (where have I heard that before?) and then invited to enter the arenas. Now. pay attention 'cos this is where it gets exciting.
The arenas are divided into a series of square rooms. Well, to be exact, they're more the shape of your TV screen than square (though, I suppose you might have a square TV screen). Oodles of different nasties pile into the rooms, and they all head for you. All you've got to protect you from this hideous attack is a weedy laser blaster. You'll find this a bit on the underpowered side, don't let that worry you! Yep, it's mega blasterama time!
The best way to deal with all these meanies is to hide in the corner of the room 'til you've worked out how each one attacks and moves, then blow 'em into tiny shreds!
Meanwhile they'll try and catch you, either by firing all manner of weapons in your direction or simply by colliding with your little bod. Body contact, eh? I told you it was exciting!
WHERE ARE THE PRIZES THEN?
Ah, I was just coming to that. Throughout the game various prizes appear (just as a reminder that this is, in fact, a gameshow). These can be massive amounts of cash (which is all very nice but a bit useless when it comes to killing aliens), better weapons or special protection from the 'orrible creatures in the arenas (just the sort of goodies you need).
You can collect the weapons and prizes by wandering over to them. You move and fire in eight directions and, boy, will you need to! As with most games, the first bunch of aliens you come across are dead easy to beat. There's a large snake that goes around the screen in a pretty set pattern, just hide in a corner of the room and blast outwards when he comes past. Bits will fall off him 'til he's completely and utterly dead. You can now come come out of your hideyhole and start cheering.
But don cheer for too long, 'cos a load of new (and very angry) aliens will charge in! The monsters get progressively harder as you move from room to room (as you'd expect) and there are some real swines. There are usually about three waves of different aliens per room, and it makes sense to try and kill the fist wave as quickly as possible. If you don't, then the second lot come trotting on whilst you're still trying to bump off the first lot. This makes for rather frightening gameplay, as you try to deal with both sorts at once. If you waste too much time running away from them, the third wave might happily wander on too. By this stage you'll be a nervous wreck and probably in need of a lie down in a dark place. (Like Finland.)
IS IT ANY GOOD THEN?
Good? Of course it's not good? it's absolutely brilliant. In all my years of Speccy gaming I don't think I've ever played such an addictive arcade conversion. The graphics are so big, smooth and fast, you could swear you're looking at a 5,000,000K mainframe. (Don't exaggerate. Ed)
There are lots of ace little touches crammed in all over the place. For example, you can pick up 3-way blasters which cover a 90 degree area when you fire them. Basically, everything in front of you is completely incinerated. Can't say fairer than that, can you? Other useful finds include a sort of whirling suit of armour which only protects you from certain sorts of aliens. It kills them if they come into contact with it, so
it's dead useful as a weapon as well. Oh, and there are the obligatory bombs which, when you get them, blow up everything on the screen except you. Hurrah is the word that springs to mind.
Yes indeed, Smash TV is really jolly spiffing. And once you get the hang of me first few waves of aliens, you'll be getting further and further every time you play. You'll be glad to hear that it's definitely not the sort of game that you'll finish off in one sitting. I played it for ages and only got past the first seven or eight screens (But everyone knows you're crap. Ed)
As well as being one of the Speediest games I've seen in ages. Smash TV's whizzy graphics make for a veritable butter mountain of aliens. There are big snakes, robots, astronauts, armoured tanks, Bros fans, in fact the list is endless. (You're exaggerating again! Ed) Okay, nearly endless!
Listen! I've told you how good it is. It's absolutely definitely a Megagame and I'm off for another bash. All that you have to do is rush out to your nearest Speccy software stockist and get yourself a copy of Smash TV. You wont regret it.
Oh, I can't leave behind my washing machine!It's no good, the speech bubble has to appear from somewhere. I think I'll hold Andy's Gary Glitter jigsaw hostage unless my washing machine appears with me. What do you say, Andy? (I'll do anything, anything at all. But please... please don't touch my jigsaw. Andy O) (Just a word of advice, Steve. The only thing threats get you is a little pink piece of paper. Ed) Oh, erm, right. Fair enough. Anyway, enough of my problems, let's talk Smash TV!
It was originally released in 1990 and was greeted by the computer media as "quite a good game, really", and rightly so! Not only is Smash TV nice and easy to get into and play, but it's also mind-numbingly addictive. The essence of all good games, I'm sure you'll agree.
The plot of the game is very much like that of The Running Man. You're a contestant on a game show with your life at stake if you fail. Sounds like Family Fortunes to me, except with an ounce more credibility!
You take control over your (rather nicely designed) sprite with his little gun, and must guide him through, ooh, several screens on each level before meeting the normal end-of-level guardian. On each of the screens are nasty things, from blobby doofuses that follow you everywhere to Mr Shrapnel, a lardy bloke who you can shoot at for a while before he explodes! Yes, it's hours of fun for all the family....
Shooting certain baddies will give you power-ups, and these can range from a few seconds of immunity to extra lives, with rapid shots, three-way fire, circling orbs (Hey, The Orb!) (Pulsating! Ed) and smart bombs hustling together in between, in no particular order. The extra lives are certainly needed, because lives come and go faster than you can curse your tardy reactions. At least they do for little old me!
There's four levels of this before you get to the end-of-game custodian, the show's host himself. The inlay says he's insane and only understands total carnage. Still sounds like Family Fortunes to me! Ho hum.
Well, that's the descriptive bit over, now for the game itself. What's it like? Well, if I didn't say it was brilliant then I would be madder than Mr Dribbly (the people's hero).
The graphics are big, fast and colourful, and stay true to the coin-op original, but the sound effects are unfortunately lacking. Little more than "farty noises" to quote Andy (the almost jigsawless). But who cares, the game's an absolute blast! Almost as much fun as half-a-dozen humanities students (and that's a biscuit barrel full of fun)! Something worth bearing in mind is that I've just given Smash TV a higher mark than the NES version got in Total!, and the Speccy version costs 10% of the NES price. Good old Uncle Clive, it's hard to believe he now runs a pharmacy in the wilds of Gloucester.
The most violence viewers can expect from a TV show at the moment is the occasional outburst from the luckless participants on Beadle's About. However the future, according to Acclaim anyway, holds far interesting entertainment in store for violent lunatics out there in TV land.
Smash TV is in the style the old Robotron coin-op although heavily enhanced to produce a vision of a future TV show, caught somewhere between Rollerball and the Running Man, in which the contestants really do have to fight for their prizes. The player enters a labyrinth of arenas that are stocked to the lofty rafters with stunning prizes, power ups and, unfortunately, large bands of psychotic mutants and robot destroyers, intent on making sure that the only thing people leave the studio with is an ID tag and a death certificate!
Not to worry though... well, much anyway, because the goodly host of this show has left a small selection of weapon power-ups and protective shields for the taking if the contestant is quick enough to take advantage of them. Don't be fooled by this kindness however, because this remarkable display of brotherly love is a means to a terrible end and the wily Beadle descendant only wants to save you to get a chance at killing you himself.
Remarkably Probe have included all the most important features of the a apart from the co-operative two-player option. The sprites are all huge and the controls are adequate, though not perfect as the coin-op allowed for the contestant to fire in one direction whilst moving in another.
Smash TV is satisfyingly playable on the Spectrum and with front seats for the show now going for a song, is a blast well worth viewing.
Label: Hit Squad
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Paul Davis
STEVE: Smash TV is a tough conversion for any system but this is very good indeed. Sure, it doesn't have quite the same feel, and the two-player mode is missing, but the overall look of the game is cool.
I dunno, call me easily pleased if you like, but give me a huge mutant skinhead on a tank and a chance to participate in the most violent game show ever invented, and I'll be having more fun than a polar bear on rollerskates at a fish market.
The shoot 'em up activity of Smash TV leaves much room for boredom however. - from the word go it's non-stop excitement, immediate fun of the purest sense, and only the terminally brain dead will fail to find it totally engulfing. About as addictive as breathing - and then some!
The idea, as with all the best games, is very very simple. Smash TV is the ultimate game show challenge, a close cousin to "The Running Man" that has the player shooting various bad guys for a whole host of glittering prizes.
Making his way through a series of interconnected rooms, the contestant tips the odds in his favour by picking up a range of brightly coloured icons, that bestow extra fire power, lives, shields etc, and secures a holiday in the sun by gobbling up handy bundles of cash. The hoards of baseball wielding thugs do their best to upset things of course, and aided and abetted by the likes of Mr Shrapnel (guess what his party trick is, kids!), several small legions of mutant lizard droids (or something) and our old friend the tank-bound skinhead, cause more bloodshed and mayhem than an inept machete juggler.
There's levels and stuff, of course, and if the four apocalyptic game zones don't manage to chop your nerves up into little pieces and then feed them to the shacks, then the appearance of the game show host will surely seal your fate. I mean, have you seen Bob Monkhouse recently?
In all, a highly enjoyable blast 'em up that will have you thrilled for hours. Smooth, detailed graphics, loads of fast sprites zipping around the screen with superb speed that is not impaired when played by two players makes Smash TV a complete, triggers bustin' masterpiece that should quench just about anyone's bloodlust. Now where did I put that chainsaw?
Price: £11.99 Tape, N/A Disk
Reviewer: Ian Watson
GARTH: Rip roaring speed, excellent sound and minimum colour clash even with the squillions of sprites careering around the screen, makes Smash TV a totally FAB game and one of the definitive arcade conversions!
STEVE: Ocean are really cookin' with their releases this month and this is undoubtedly the best arcade blaster of any that I've seen. Come on Ocean - keep 'em comin'!
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