The Pitch: Smash TV, or “I’d Buy That For a Dollar”

Remember ‘Smash TV’? It was released to the arcades when I was only one year old (sorry to any potentially older readers who I just made feel like dinosaurs), but I sure do. I’m a big fan of the game and, in fact, own three copies of it – on the Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, and, best of all, the Super Nintendo.

It was derivative of ‘Robotron 2084′ and ‘Berserk’ but, personally speaking, it’s the most iconic title of the twin-stick shooter for me. It was released to the Xbox Live Arcade a few years ago but I never picked it up and, due to Midway’s financial troubles, it’s no longer available from that surface, so my next-gen dreams have been dashed.

What I purpose, is a return for the series to modern consoles.

What I’m suggesting is a HD remake or reboot released to digital distribution services such as the Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and Steam. Due to the nature of the game and its genre, there’s also the possibility for its distribution onto iOS, Android and PS Vita devices.

The core of ‘Smash TV’ should remain true to its original form – we don’t want this to become a another third-person shooter. I’m talking about a classic twin-stick shooter viewed from a top-down perspective with co-operative play. In fact, it would be a pretty big bonus if the original ‘Smash TV’  was included in the package. Actually, make that a given. That has to happen. The original ‘Smash TV’ only featured two player co-op, but now four player co-op offline and online is pretty much a given. The setting – that of a violent reality TV game show – should remain the same, and also stay suitably campy in its tone (we don’t want another ‘Bomberman: Act Zero’ on our hands). Other than that, you walk into a room, you kill guys, you move on; It’s a retro-throwback to an arcade great, kind of like what ‘Double Dragon: Neon’ is promising to be.

Of course, there’s plenty of twin stick shooters out there now across a whole plethora of gaming devices. These days they’re generally not entirely well-received, but they’re decent for a quick arcade blast. The main complain about modern twin-stick shooters are repetitiveness and lack of content. While the repetitive nature of the genre can’t be helped (it comes down to player preferences, really), the area of content, or the lack of it, can be helped. This is where customisation options and the use of user-generated content comes in. Most modern multiplayer games have user customisation options of some kind, so the ability to customise your own Smash TV contestant is a must – from buxom lass to freakish brute; towering beanpole to scrappy midget. Customisation options should, also, be unlocked from the start and never, ever released through downloadable content. Unless it’s free.

In terms of user-generated content: Think LittleBigPlanet. LittleBigPlanet with shooting things. User-generated content would keep the game fresh and enable players to create their own ‘episodes’ of Smash TV. It’s just an idea to address the issue of twin-stick shooters having a lack of content; I can’t obviously go into details about how it’d work. Just think LittleBigPlanet, okay?

It’s kind of hard to pitch a reboot of a game like this, because it really doesn’t need a whole lot changing or added other than a new lick of paint to pretty it up a bit. I honestly wouldn’t mind if it was just a HD remake with nothing added, or even if there was just a re-release of the original game to XBLA/PSN/Steam. These are just some suggestions to get in more punters than existing fans.

In conclusion:

  • Reboot ‘Smash TV’ to digital distribution platforms.
  • Keep the classic twin-stick shooter style but with modern graphics
  • Include full four-player co-op offline and online.
  • Include original ‘Smash TV’ as a bonus.
  • Keep the setting the same; no attempts to make it darker or edgier. We want camp!
  • Customisable characters with awesome campy silliness!
  • User-generated content to keep the game and community alive.

I think Midway owned the rights to the game so I don’t know what’s going on with it now. This pitch goes, then, goes out to any developer or publisher who would be willing to answer my pleas. Or Zombie-Midway. That’d be awesome.

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