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Smash TV


What is it with the Robotron clones on the Xbox Live Arcade, this time around we get something that actually was released to real arcades back in 1990 with Smash TV. The premise behind the game is a mixture of present day reality TV and the 1987 movie, The Running Man; namely a game show that offers big money and big prizes to the contestants who are willing to risk their lives for the almighty VCR.

Gameplay:
Smash TV takes you, the thankfully quarter-less player, through three levels each with a "mini-boss", and the game ending in a boss fight. Now three levels seems like an easy feat, but when each level is packed with multiple rooms that you must clear of seemingly endless waves of orbs, suicide bombers and snakes the limited number of rooms really doesn't matter much. This game defines the phrase quarter muncher, as even the most hardened player will probably have a tough time making it through some later rooms without the requirement of popping in more quarters (or in this case, pressing the start button.) Enemies charge at you with an never quenching thirst for beating you down, and your simple gun doesn't stand a chance.

Thankfully various weapon upgrades are scattered throughout each room very frequently, which helps blow through the hoards of baddies even if only for the short duration of each weapon. Also scattered throughout the levels are bonus items ranging from bars of silver and gold, bunches of money to wrapped presents which contain giant televisions and pre-paid vacations.

The game controls exactly how it did back in the arcades (and on its release on the Midway Arcade collection) with nice dual analog stick support. However, I found the game to be a little sluggish this time around, with reactions not exactly what I would have hoped they would be. This did result in some additional deaths, but since your score is carried over continues and you're granted an endless amount there really is do driving force behind trying to stay alive, other than the Master Achievements.

The 200 achievement points are awarded for completing each level (boss kill), getting the high score on the local leader board, and in a move that I think only the very dedicated player would ever achieve, beating levels and the game without continuing. Xbox Live support is here as well allowing you to pick up and play with friends online, this mode also unlocks achievement points. In the past the co-op play was broken, but I believe recent patches have addressed this concern.

Graphics:
This game looks exactly like it did when I played it back in 1990, all the way up to the sweet pixelated ladies that hover on our man the Evil MC when he pops on the screen to offer his words of encouragement. You're character blows up with his limbs and eyeballs making appearances all over the stage when you hit a bomb, and blood squirts quite readily out of Mutoid Man when he's finally taken down. I didn't notice any major hiccups when playing the game, aside from the overall sluggish feel that I mentioned earlier.

Audio:
Again, the game is quite well reproduced here on the Live Arcade, with all sound effects present and accounted for; including the digitized "I'd buy that for a dollar!" that most players will recognize. Not real complaints with the sound, as it very well recreates the arcade sound that I remember.

Conclusion:
Smash TV is a faithful reproduction of the arcade classic that is sure to tickle the fancy of fans of the title. However, that being said chances are high that you already own this on the Collection that was put out for all consoles last generation, so unless you got rid of the game is there a reason to get it again? Well, not really unless you really want to play the game on Live and compare your scores to people around the world. Whether or not you want to spend the 400 points to upgrade to an online enabled version really should be up to you, but my recommendation is to skip it.