This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch, but is also available on PC.
When people bring up solid non-Nintendo NES games, or solid arcade titles from the era, a name often heard is Smash TV. It was a unique (for the time) twin-stick shooter styled after a game show, where players massacre everything in their way for points and prizes. Despite its cult status, it hasn’t had a true follow-up, though many have tried to replicate its gameplay. One such homage has popped up on the Switch, Galaxy Champions TV. Considering that it is so confident in its position as a throwback that it replicates the ‘3D’ in its title, how does this violent game show shooter fare? Let’s have a look.
Galaxy Champions TV looks pretty decent from an overall visual standpoint. Its pixel-art style is appropriately retro considering it’s a throwback to an old NES and 90s arcade game. From a gameplay standpoint, it also works, as the purple color scheme of the enemies allow them to stand out among the game’s backgrounds, so players know what are enemies and what are weapons or weapon-dropping droids. However, the visuals fail at being a throwback to Smash TV, as they’re a little too clean. Considering Smash TV was coined as an ultra-violent Running Man-esque game show, with humans killing humans. In Galaxy Champions TV, you’re only killing brightly-colored robots, and so loses that edge.
If you’ve played Smash TV, you know what you’re in for here. You get thrown into an arena, and have to deal with droves of enemies, racking up XP and points, and eventually fight a boss at the end of each planet’s 10-room slog. The gameplay overall is fast and frenetic, as even from the first round you’re swarmed by tons of enemies, but luckily you have plenty of firepower to deal with it. You start with a pistol, but certain droids (who also steal your XP) can drop a Machine Gun, a laser gun, a grenade launcher and a shotgun. As you play, enemies will drop XP, which, if not stolen by the looter droids, will eventually be converted into upgrade points, which you can spend on upgrades. There are upgrades to the player and upgrades to your weapons. You can make it so enemies drop health as well as XP, give yourself extra HP, or make it so your grenade launcher launches two grenades at a time. Some upgrades are a bit of fun, while some are necessary. Luckily, these upgrades are persistent, because if you die you go straight back to the beginning of the planet, but keep your upgrades so you’ll have an easier time.
However, there are a few nitpicks. For one, despite being a twin-stick shooter, it doesn’t have full 360-degree movement, instead being limited to 8 directions. While not game-breaking, it does lead to a few cheap shots from an enemy that manages to fit through the gaps in my directional aiming. The game is also a bit limited on content. The main mode only features four planets at 10 levels each, and while you can replay them to grind for upgrades, they’re over quite quickly. There is a Champions mode, but this is only a slight variation on the basic game where instead of it being wave-based it gets more hectic over time. While fun, it is just a throwaway mode.
There isn’t really much of note in the audio department. The sound isn’t fantastic, but it ain’t bad either, it’s just serviceable.
Galaxy Champions TV is a fun twin-stick arcade romp. It’s fun, hectic and quite challenging, and there are plenty of weapons to use and upgrades to grind for. From a gameplay standpoint, it’s a dead ringer for Smash TV, so will scratch that itch if you’re looking for a game in a similar vein. While it looks and sounds solid enough, it does lack the edge of its inspiration, but if you don’t mind it being a bit more colorful than Smash TV, as well as it lacking content, give this one a shot.