Warning – There are many reminiscences and rose-tinted glasses contained in this review!
Galaxy Champions TV is a new top-down, closed arena-based shooter that is based on one of my proudest ever completions on the old Super Nintendo: Smash TV!
For those of you born after the 1990s, Smash TV was a byword for a hard-as-nails shooter, and the controls made it even harder. You see, back in the day, the Super Nintendo controller had a d-pad for movement, and then the shooting was taken care of by the four face buttons, including diagonals by pressing two buttons at once. Anyway, what this meandering preamble is leading up to is a new approach to the gameplay of this classic game with Galaxy Champions TV, coming from the development team over at aQuadiun. But can this hold a candle to my most precious memories?
The first thing that strikes you with Galaxy Champions TV is the determinedly retro presentation; the menus look just like they used to back in the ‘90s, and there is an instant warmth to proceedings. Selecting the only character available, the Contestant, the story is explained as being in the format of a game show, with the ultimate prize being that of your life. Along with riches, fame and fortune, of course!
The music is bang on as well, and the sounds of the various weapons that you can pick up are all faithfully reproduced. All in all, if you’re a Smash TV veteran, you’ll be feeling right at home here.
So, Galaxy Champions TV takes place in a series of closed arenas, where we enter from one side, fight like crazy, then leave from another door once we have slaughtered anything that moves. The enemies pour in from the four doors in the arena, as things play out as a twin stick shooter; the left stick taking care of moving, while the right fires and aims. It’s good to see that an age-old tactic of skirting around the edges of the arena while firing diagonally into the centre of the room still works.
As you progress, various robot-type things appear, and shooting them will drop an item, either a new weapon or, more importantly, hearts to heal yourself. The weapons are a varied lot, from a shotgun with very short range, to a laser that burns through all the enemies on screen. When you complete a level, there is a chance of having an upgrade appear that may make your run a little easier too, with these coming in a couple of categories; either permanent upgrades, like the dodge ability, or others that only last for the duration of the run, like upgraded weapons.
Galaxy Champions TV is not the longest game you’ll ever have played, but it makes up for it by being absolutely as hard as nails – another tick in the retro box there. There are four planets, each with six stages, with the final one of those that of a boss level. There are different difficulty levels and on anything other than Easy becoming a galaxy champ is an extremely tricky proposition. Even that is a bit of a misnomer, to be fair, but the amount of continues available (99) makes it doable at least. On Normal, there are only three continues, and so this makes life a lot more difficult. Luckily, you can bring a couch co-op partner along for the ride, and having twice as much firepower being directed into the hordes of little enemies does make things a little easier. A very little bit easier, I have to say. Add to this a global leaderboard to see just how good you are, and the chance to show off is all present.
If you are a gamer of a certain age then you’ll discover that Galaxy Champions TV is very much the spiritual successor to the classic Smash TV. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s damn hard, yet it’s perfect for a quick blast when you have a few minutes to spare. Perhaps it could provide a little more in terms of game length, but then there’s the Nightmare difficulty to complete for those looking for it…
Smash TV’s spiritual successor Galaxy Champions TV is now available for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One