Smash TV by Williams, developed by Eugene Jarvis and Mark Turnell. Arcade release in 1990, and ported to a whole slew of systems (my favorite being the SNES conversion).
Now, here's a game which will make your toes curl up! The unnofficial "sequel" to 1982's Robotron, Smash TV took the dual-joystick control method (left stick runs, right stick shoots) and made a whole new game out of it. The gameplay is very similar (things are trying to shoot and kill you from every direction, so avoid and blast them!), with the new addition of powerups, bosses, and of course a new theme (The Running Man) and a hefty audiovisual upgrade.
This game is a tough mother. Games like Smash TV appeared when the goal was to truly hook the player in with simple, digestable gameplay, keep them going with some fancy graphics, make it a 2-Player experience so your buddy could play (and pay) with you, and then just make it frenetic, hard, and insane. From the get-go, Smash TV started handing you your butt.
This was a period where graphic violence was starting to rear its head in arcade gaming as well. Not quite to the level of Mortal Kombat just yet, but following on the heels of the teams earlier efforts like Narc, Smash was pretty gloriously gory. Decimate foes into puddles of blood. Don't step on a landmine, or your body will explode, sending eyeballs flying up towards the ceiling.
The game showed up on a number of platforms, with different methods to get over its particular control issue. The NES version - while a huge graphical downgrade from the arcade - still played a good game, and required the use of a 4-player tap for "the ultimate experience" (two players, each holding two control pads.. use the D-Pad in each hand, one to shoot ad one to move, get it?) Personally, I was always a big fan of the SNES release as they really nailed the graphical look (and the digitized sounds, of course). Also notable was the fact that the SNES joypad was very well-suited to play this game without requiring any fancy setups. It's still a blast to play now!
Smash TV was a very memorable game, whose repercussions can still be felt in modern gaming (see Geometry Wars). The game still looks great, sounds great and plays like a dream - or rather, a nightmare!
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