One of my favourite early 90s arcade games was Smash TV. It was simple arcade adrenaline pumping chaos and that is exactly what Galaxy Champions TV looks to emulate. Wearing its influences on its sleeve proudly, this arena shooter might be a bit repetitive by design, but it certainly packs a punch too.
The game sees you playing as a champion locked into various rooms across four worlds, each with four doors ready to open wide and send hordes of enemies in to kill you. You move, aim and shoot in a similar fashion to a twin-stick shooter with an additional dash ability to get out of tight corners with a few frames of invisibility when you use it. The actual gameplay loop is extremely basic and possibly the sole critique I have of the game. You kill wave after wave of enemies until the room is cleared, move on and then wipe the boss out before moving to the next world. Thankfully, the moment to moment gameplay more than makes up for this.
Galaxy Champions TV is nimble and fast. Enemies pile in quickly and whilst there’s about 20 different types, often from world 2 onwards their abilities can combine to create layers of problems for you. One enemies sticky web slows you down so that another’s wide projectile can hit you. Since you’ve only a few hits and then you die and lose your runs progress, the stakes are high. Often you are juggling which horde of problems will hit you first, switching up attacks and trying to stem the flow of attacks too. It is visceral but manageable (on the normal modes) and feels incredibly satisfying to play. Part of this is down to the upgrade system and the sheer amount of pick ups it involves.
Galaxy Champions TV loves to drop weapon pick ups and there are a lot to choose from. They also cn be upgraded, just like your standard weapon and character traits. This is done whenever you level up through XP collection when killing enemies. The upgrades are really well thought out though as they are randomised but meaningful. You could choose to invest in constantly upgrading just one weapon and hope it drops regularly enough to save your bacon, or you could spread the upgrade love. There is no right or wrong playstyle but I had a lot of fun trying different ways to upgrade and leaning into different weapon types. Some like the laser gun are so powerful when upgraded to level 5 that they become tricky to use as they blast you backwards with its power… potentially into other enemies! I really like that an achievement is based around trying every upgrade once as it incentivises you to experiment.
The four characters appear to handle identically but they do have some slight differences in their stats (it feels like that anyway). Where you’ll spend your time is trying to survive the different difficulties. Easy gives you 99 lives, normal 3, and hard and extreme just one. Then there is champion mode where the game can loop if you complete it with your single life but I’ve never been good enough to survive. That’s because the final boss is extremely fast and catches me off guard. You can tackle the game in co-op too which I’d imagine would be a blast because of how quickly things can kick off.
Whilst you’ll likely find world 1 a bit samey when you play this game for many hours, the challenge and fun after that more than makes up for the slow start. Galaxy Champions TV bills itself as a spiritual reimagining of Smash TV and I think it hits that goal square on. A joy to play and hard to conquer, this is an arcade arena shooter beauty squished into 25 minute runs.
Galaxy champions TV
Fast, frantic, fun and replayable. A great reimagining of Smash TV.
Easy to pick up and play with some very challenging difficulty options.
Upgrade system for each run is meaningful and varied, offering replayability options.
Co-Op works a treat.
A slow start that you'll have to replay on each run.
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