Format: Super NES Genre: Run and Gun Released: 1992 Developer: Williams/Acclaim
The Super NES version of Smash T.V. was spot on. In fact, the SNES controller might as well have been specifically designed to work with the game, such was the perfect fit of the four facia buttons with the multidirectional shooting required in the game. Plus the SNES conversion was practically arcade perfect in terms of graphics and sound – a rare feat in the early 90s.
And of course, come the inevitable playground argument about the relative merits of the Super NES versus the Megadrive, Super Smash T.V.‘s control system provided yet more ammunition to remorsely fire into the soft underbellies of SEGAphiles. I remember SEGA did eventually get round to releasing a six-button pad for the Megadrive, but I think it was a looooong time after Smash T.V. came out, so I’m not sure how the designers got around the problem of letting players shoot and run in different directions when they only had three buttons to play with. I know that on the NES the player had to use the D-pad on two controllers to simulate the dual joysticks of the arcade version, but of course that meant you needed four joypads to play with two players.
The two player mode was definitely the way to play Super Smash T.V. The game was fun in one player, but it was a helluva lot more fun with two people and, thankfully, a little bit easier. In fact, the game’s difficulty was legendary – although it only had three levels (each comprised of several rooms), I only ever got to the end on a couple of occasions, and I don’t think I ever completed it. I loved the bosses though – Mutoid Man, the level 1 boss, is up there with the best end-of-level baddies of all time, along with Kraid from Super Metroid and Bowser in Super Mario 64.
The game was clearly based on The Running Man, and the film’s sense of black humour was carried over wholesale into the game. I loved the way that at the end of every level your score was judged on the amount of toasters and VCRs you grabbed, and the game had a very nasty habit of carefully positioning wads of tempting cash directly over mines. Despite the danger though, there was always the compulsion to collect every single prize on offer, just so you could glory in having a slightly larger pile of toasters than your friend at the end of the level. It’s the little victories that count in life.
For me though, it was the sound effects that really made Smash T.V. stand out from the crowd. The host’s endlessly repeated soundbites are still echoing around my head to this very day:
“Good luck! You’ll need it!”
“Biiiiig money!!! Biiiiig prizes!!! IIIII LOVE IT!!!!”
“I’d buy that for a dollar!”
That last one was lifted directly from Robocop – the designers certainly didn’t hold back on their referencing of movies set in a satirical dystopian future.
It wasn’t just the sampled speech that made the game stand out though – Super Smash T.V. featured some of the meatiest gun noises and explosions I’ve ever heard in a SNES game. Even the puny handgun you start with sounds like some sort of artillery cannon, and after you acquire a heftier weapon and the screen has fills with enemies, it sounds like World War Three has broken out. Listen below to see what I mean… and look out for the fight with Mutoid Man at the end – the only game character I can think of that carries a spare head inside his ribcage.