Smash TV
Copyright/Publisher: The Hit Squad/Ocean Software Ltd, Conversion By: Probe Software Ltd,
Programmed By: Nick Jones, Graphics By: Lee Ames, Music By: Jeroen Tel,
Release Year: 1991, Genre: Weird Sports, Number Of Players: 1

The Smash TV coin-op is one of the most spectacular ever, packed with incredible graphics and more sprites than a shop full of home computer games. Then there's the dual joystick control system and brilliant start-up sequence. Nobody with any sense would even dream of converting it, would they? Ian Osborne ponders the impossible.

Smash TV is a futuristic game show where instead of being incredibly humiliated by the smarmy host, contestants now get blown to pieces. Given a choice between a grotty Michael Barrymore 'jest' before the nation's entire population of morons and a bullet between the eyes, wouldn't you go for the latter? Yep, mass slaughter is exactly what you get in Smash TV.

The aim of the game is to blast your way through three dangerous and devious arenas, then confront the game show host to give him some of his own lethal medicine. At this point coin-op fans may start squealing about the fourth arena, but never fear that's been incorporated into the third section and all 46 rooms have been crammed into your C64.

Each room is a single screen which seals you in until the baddies have been blasted to smithereens. It's frantic, non-stop shoot-'em-up action, rather like Robotron, and there's a huge variety of enemies - swirling buffalo clouds, laser-firing electroballs, snakes, pudgy guys who carry bombs on their back, tanks, zombies, snipers... the list goes on and on.

To stand any kind of chance you need to power-up by collecting icons for speed-up, power-shots, triple-shot fire, shields, extra lives and the inevitable smart bomb. Don't be too trigger happy though, ammo is limited - shown by the red/grren bar beneath your mega-score.

And then there's the prizes. Yep, it's a game show after all and you too can win cars, wads of dosh, free airplane tickets, a years supply of meat and dozens of pop-up toasters! At the end of each arena all your winnings are totted up in a special screen which is exceptionally satisfying and makes high scoring really good fun.

Fans of the coin-op will know all this, of course, so all I need say now is that it's a great conversion and... yep, they've gone down the shops to grab a copy. Okay, those of you still here are probably wondering what makes Smash special? Isn't it just another simplistic shoot-'em-up?

Well, it's certainly not a complicated game, but all the enemies have their own attack patterns and the sheer numbers lead to pure mayhem. So many shoot-'em-ups are too slow and dull; Smash TV just pours on the sprites by the dozen, it's non-stop action - and look out for the mines!

At first sight, speed seems due to mediocre graphics, but the more you play, the more the graphics impress with lots of impressive details, splendid colour and neat animation. As bullets spray the arena you have no time to do anything other than keep firing, but observers can ogle at the fact it doesn't slow down, it just keeps throwing more and more stuff at you.

A stack of lives, nine to begin with, plus a continue-play, make for good long battles, and when you do finally go back to the start you can try a different route through the arenas. Beginners can search for the fastest route while experts will go for the bonus rooms. Needless to say at the end of each arena there's a superbaddie to defeat, and just watch out for the spectacular death sequence!

There is very little variation in gameplay here - it's rip-roaring shoot-'em-up action all the way, and none the worse for it either. A well-thought-out learning curve makes sure you just keep coming back for more. And it's very difficult to find any niggles.

Expert gamers might find it a little easy. I suppose, but even they will have great fun go for high scores. Smash TV is simply one of the best games to be released this year, it's just so much fun, and incredibly playable. As Robin Hogg would have said, had he still been here. 'It's a SIZZLER - and a right good game to boot!'

This is Nick Jones last C64 game, but boy has he ever gone out with a bang! This is one of the most playable coin-op conversions I've seen in ages. The enclosed arenas create a claustrophobic atmosphere, especially with all the enemies that pour out of the doors.

Far from mindless blasting, Smash continually gets your mind whirring with options - should I get that bonus weapon? where's the best place to attack these new beasties from? do I really need another pop-up toaster? Can I get that cash without hitting that mine? Arg!

There's a wide range of baddies, all with their own attack patterns, and usually there's a couple of different types to worry about at the same time, loads of 'em, yet the game just doesn't slow down!

Surviving takes so much concentration that collecting prizes becomes just an afterthought - unless you're plain greedy like me! The price is right so come on down and play Smash TV. Win or lose, with this much fun everyone's a winner!

Ten gameshow hosts you would like to blow to smithereens. In reverse order:

10. Bruce Forsyth...'Nice to see you to see you,... Aaarrrrggghhh!'

9. Jim Bowen... 'And Bully's star prize is... Ooooffff!

8. Les Dennis... 'We asked 100 people which gameshow host they would most like to drop from a very great height...'

7. Cilla Black... Wouldn't you just love to send her on a Blind Date with a hand grenade?

6. Matthew Kelly... Would you like to break his other leg? YOU BET!

5. Bob Monkhouse... King of the false smile - should be made to sell The Satanic Verses door to door in Iran.

4. Roy Walker... 'What have we got here, it's a headstone, it's got my name on it, and the catch-phrase is... WISHFUL THINKING'

3. Andrew O'Connor... The god squad's slimiest trooper.

2. Bob Holness... Let's play knock-off-his block busters.

1. Jeremy Beadle... Well, what can I say? For crimes too numerous to mention, should be built into the Channel Tunnel - let's see if he is game for a laugh!

Great opening sequence, then the game loads in and it's a SINGLE load! Choice of keys or joystick for movement and fire control, plus one continue-play.
Enemy sprites are detailed, colourful, and there are so many different types!
Great intro tune and involving in-game FX.
Frequent 'life' power-ups and a continue-game option make the game instantly, completely compulsive.
The excellent learning curve provides a real challenge, plus you can choose your own route through the arenas and high-scoring is extremely satisfying.
Smash TV grabs you by the throat and just won't let go - how Ocean managed to get all this into one load is beyond me. Buy or die!

Sprite limitations? What sprite limitations? Watch out for the wall snipers and blue mines. The left red icon is a v. useful smart bomb. The Electrobounce balls shoot lethal lasers all over the place if you don't blast them first. The rings at your feet mean you've got a forecfield currently, but three lives aren't many in this game. These circling blades wipe put everything they touch - but lucky shots can still get through! Blast the tankmen for cash, silver ingots, prezzies and an extra life (the blue icon at top right).