The theme of violent future sports is hardly a new one, after all Rollerball brought us visions of psychopaths in a high-tech arena as far back as 1975. More recently, films such as The Running Man (which in turn was a pale interpretation of the original book) have revitalised the interest in violence spectator sports, as well as introducing the idea of TV game shows that are played literally to the death.
High-power future sport games are also a well-
Didn't they do well?
The year is 1999. The Generation Game has long since been assigned to the archives as people cry out for more powerful and violent TV shows. There is one company however that has a show that pulls in bigger audience ratings than any other network program. Smash TV features big ash payouts, fabulous prizes and more blood and sweat than any other TV show in history.
The game is played by one or two contestants under the control of you and a friend. You are given a simple machine gun and a rudimentary set of body armour. The lucky (?) contestants are thrown into a metallic arena with four doors. Through these doors emerge crowds of baseball-bat wielding thugs with one intention: to beat the living daylights out of you! In order to complete the round, you must destroy a set number of opponents. This allows one of the doors to open up, forming a linking tunnel to the next arena.
As you progress through these rounds, more vicious opponents start to make an appearance, including the explosive Mr Shrapnel and the bothersome UFO drones. However things are not quite as grim as they seem. Various tokens appear from time to time to give you extra powers, including speed-ups, grenade launcher, rockets and shields.
Occasionally a prize will be thrown into the arena. The prizes are either in the form of packages - which correspond to prizes such as cars, holidays, VCR's and toasters - or as piles of cash which can be picked up to increase your bonus. Unfortunately, in order to collect your bonus you need to beat Mutoid Man, he waits at the end of the current maze and trundles out of a hole in the wall when you approach. To defeat him you need to blow the gunners from the tank base, blow off his arms and then zap his head. Gruesome - but the audience loves it.
The scores on the doors
The Amiga conversion of Smash TV loses a lot of the frantic feel of the coin-op. This is partly because the only way you can play with two joysticks is either with two Bugs or by gluing two sticks together on the table! This would be OK if a similar system to Llamatron (a great game which, like Smash TV, was also born out of the ashes of the classic Robotron) had been used to allow you to fire in different directions, but in Smash TV you have to hit a key on the keyboard. This greatly disrupts the flow of the game, resulting in the loss of lives.
Another annoying point is the fact that the screen is a lot shorter than in the coin-op. This means that the wild feel of the original hasn't ben carried across, since you haven't got the space to play with. The graphics and sound are a bit messy too, with some extremely garish colours and scratchy sound effects being used to portray the action.
If you've never played the coin-op, then the game may very well hold your interest for a very short while, but anyone who is expecting to play the hit arcade game on their Amiga will be disappointed, since the game lacks the substance and action that is required for a challenging shoot-