Kickin’ It Old School – Super Smash T.V. (and a little bit of venting)

You may recall that several months ago, during my hiatus (read: I forgot that I wrote for this site), I made a brief cameo with a column on Total Carnage and how its mindless chaos was relaxing after a hard day of getting yelled at working at a country club. Total Carnage was the spiritual sequel to Smash T.V., so I’m tempted to just make this column a link to that one and go back to one of the ten bajillion papers I have to write in the next few weeks, but who cares about those, I want to write about something fun!

I grew up with Super Smash T.V. on the SNES, but I’m dealing with the Genesis port this time, because damn it, I feel bad for the little thing. I mean, I grew up a ginormous Nintendo fan until I got my Dreamcast, so I feel like I’m biased. And I am, but in the interest of at least putting up a façade that I’m unbiased, we’re going back to the land of blast processing for this week.

Super Smash T.V. (Genesis, 1992)
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Super Smash T.V. is set in a kind of perverse game show all the way in the very distant future of…1999. The object of the game show is basically to murder as many people as possible before they murder you. There are three arenas, each with many stages to them. It’s non-linearish, in that sometimes you have a selection of paths to take once you’re slaughtered all the enemies in one place. You pick up prizes along the way, which consist of the regular game show staples of appliances and a BRAND NEW CAR. Remember on Double Dare when the BRAND NEW CAR was a station wagon with wood side-panels? The 80’s were awesome. Anyway, your prizes here also include a toaster or VCR. Man, if I went on a game show where I had to dodge an onslaught of people trying to kill me and all I got was a toaster, I’d be pretty pissed off.

There’s really not too much else to it. Dodge the bad guys, blow them up. That may not sound like much, but this game is just awesome. There are hoards of power-ups around each stage, in addition to the aforementioned prizes. You can pick up a few different weapons, including a spread-shot and grenade and rocket launchers, which you really need since you’re left with what might as well be a Super Soaker by the time the power-ups wear off. There are also shields and giant nuclear weapons that destroy everything on the screen outside of yourself.

smashtv-01.JPGThe controls on the Genesis version aren’t too great. The SNES controller had 4 buttons in the 4 cardinal directions, so if you wanted to shoot a certain way, you push the button in that direction. The Genesis, the inferior piece of junk that it was (sorry, biased), only had 3 buttons, so you had to hold one button down while pressing the d-pad in the direction you wanted to shoot. It’s playable, but a little less streamlined than the SNES version.

The graphics are alright; there are games with much better graphics on the Genesis, but it’s not painful to look at. The music, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really notice since I was too busy trying not to get shanked, so I guess it wasn’t too memorable either. Did I mention there’s not much else to this game? You don’t get to kill Hitler in the final battle like in Total Carnage, just the M.C. of the show, so it’s a step down from its “sequel”, but it’s fun and addicting as hell. If you enjoy mindless fun like this, it’s only $5 on Xbox Live, so I recommend it.

Well, considering I’ve only written four paragraphs on Super Smash T.V. and I have nothing else to say about it, let’s talk about something else to fill some space. How about…The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass? Why? Because this is my column and I can talk about whatever I want!

I’ll be brief. I hate this game.

Okay, I’ll go more in-depth than that. Some people like to get on Nintendo for its lack of innovation when it comes to the Zelda series, at least since Ocarina of Time, but I don’t care about that. OoT worked, and any game that’s remotely like it, involving a climactic battle with Ganon will get a thumbs up from me. Even Four Swords Adventures. Seriously.

This game was an attempt to add some innovation into the franchise, but none of it worked for me. Here’s just a few of my problems with the game:

1. The story. The Zelda series has one of the best back stories of any series, anywhere. The seemingly never ending battle between Ganon and Link is epic and I love every bit of it. Phantom Hourglass moves away from the established storyline, instead opting for something that is nothing more than a shallow “damsel in distress” story. Yes, the other games had their share of damsel’s in distress, but they take a back seat to the eventual fated battle. This didn’t even have that. It’s like they were making a game about a sailor whose girlfriend gets trapped on a ghost ship and they just said, “screw it, let’s make this a Zelda game!” The storyline of PH is okay, but it falls way short of the standard set by the rest of the games. And no battle with Ganon moves this way down the hierarchy for me.

2. The controls. I’m not a big fan of the DS, but even if I were, I can’t imagine having an easier time controlling this game. The touch screen controls are innovative and different, yes, but it becomes a problem when one action controls more than one thing. Zelda is a series that needs a regular control scheme; A uses items, B swings the sword. For instance, I felt Twilight Princess worked much better on the Gamecube; I liked the Wii version, too, though I had some problems with it. And by the way, I’m a quiet guy, I don’t want to scream into the DS’s mic every so often, but now I’m nitpicking.

There are other complaints, like the usual ones about the Temple of the Ocean King and the sailing, and I have nothing to add to those. I’ll just wrap this up by saying that perhaps I’m not the target demographic for a game like this, since gaming obviously passed me by years ago, but I hope the next Zelda title is a return to form for the series.

Next Time: Mentioning the Dreamcast up top has gotten me nostalgic about it, so how about Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage? That game kicked ass.

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