Would I still buy that for a dollar?
Game #18: Super Smash TV
Format: SNES, PAL
My copy is: In a scruffy looking box. Memory tells me it’s about the third copy I’ve owned.
Smash TV is a game I own on a lot of formats. If I’m being totally honest, probably too many formats. There’s the version on the PSOne “Arcade Party Pak”. The version on the Midway Arcade Treasures collection on the Xbox (which annoyingly, or perhaps deliberately, won’t run on the 360). And then there’s this, the Super Nintendo version, programmed by Beam Software, who emerged from Melbourne House. Fans of really old school games will realise that this means that this particular game shares some programming DNA with titles such as The Hobbit and Way Of The Exploding Fist.
As an aside, it’s also one of the few titles where I’ve unwittingly uncovered the programmer’s credit easter egg without reading about it somewhere. I’m sure I wasn’t the first, but it was one of those cool moments back in 1992 to discover that hitting L, R and B when the Beam logo comes up reveals the programmer and artists. Quite random, that.
Anyway, the SNES version represented my first encounter with Smash TV, and it’s the only version in my collection that isn’t, technically speaking, “arcade perfect”. This should be a pretty simple ten minute game review, right?
Ten minutes later:
Yep. Indeed. I figured it’d be a simple decision, and I was right.
There’s no way I’m getting rid of this particular gem of a game.
Yeah, I know, that might seem a little nonsensical, what with the objective of the ten minute game review being my paring down the games collection, and this being a less than 100% perfect representation of the arcade original.
It’s just that it’s the imperfections that make this, in my not so humble opinion, a much better and more playable game than the arcade version. It’s slower, as the SNES really isn’t up to that much pixel shifting, and it doesn’t have the directional stick firing of the arcade or later home console versions, but that’s a good thing. The versions on the Party Pak and Arcade Treasures collections mirror the arcade game precisely, and that means they’re tough. Not just hard but actively designed to kill the player as fast as possible and get him or her to dump more money into a machine. Take the game experience outside of that arena though, and the difficulty scale becomes a hindrance, not a feature. You feel as though the game’s just killing you for the sake of it, and the “cost” of an additional credit just takes away from your feeling of achievement when you do clear a tough section.
The SNES version doesn’t have that. It’s possible to get a decent way through the game without being slaughtered — not that the game’s a pushover — and it’s also blessed with a number of other hidden features that the arcade game never had. The lack of a second shooting stick isn’t a huge problem given the number of enemies you face off with, and it’s still just as much of an adrenaline rush all the way through.
Plus, given I’ve played it on and off over the last (gulp) seventeen years, I’ve amassed something in the region of 100,000 prizes. Mostly sleek 1999 roadsters, toasters and VCRs. Anyone want 75,000 VCRs? Never been used, honest…
Ten Minute Game Verdict: To borrow a line from the game’s increasingly exuberant host:
Big Money! Big Prizes! I LOVE IT!