Monday, 27 November 2017

Heavy Smash (Arcade)

Other than a few remaining outliers like the Everybody's Golf series, sports games that aren't staid, po-faced "simulations" starring real life players are a pretty rare thing nowadays, and sci-fi/fantasy-themed games about fictional sports even moreso. And that's a shame, because those games are usually pretty great, Heavy Smash included.

What it is is a lot like a simplified, horizontally-scrolling version of the Speedball, where armoured players carry the ball and try to throw it into the goals at either ends of the pitch. This being an arcade game rather than a computer game, Heavy Smash does everything in a much louder, more colourful and generally more flamboyant manner than the Speedball games, though. There's also the addition of a power bar, whose main function is to determine how powerful you shots at the enemy's goal are, with the most powerful being like special attacks from a shonen anime, and being able to blast the opponent's goalie into the goal along with the ball at close nough range. The controls are pretty simple, and perfectly suited to a Mega Drive port that never happened: you have three buttons, the middle one is jump, and the other two each have two different functions, depending on which team has the ball. One of them is for taking shots at the opponent's goal, or attempting to tackle a ball-holding member of the opponent's team, while the other either passes the ball to one of your teammates, or, when your power bar is full, shoots a projectile at your nearest opponent.

Interestingly, the game has two scores. There's the number of goals you've scored in the current match, of course, but there's also a regular old arcade game score, too. This latter score goes up when you score goals, tackle enemy players and pick up the ball, and there's also end of match bonuses for things like scoring hat tricks and so on. Another little quirk is that though the standard length of a match is ninety seconds, if you get six points ahead of your opponents, the match is called off and you're declared the winner outright, so it is theoretically possible to attempt a speedrun of this game. Less cool is the fact that if the scores are tied when time runs out, the game goes into sudden death, and if no-one scores before that time runs out, the CPU player wins.

All the teams except one are nationally themed, and true to form for a Japanese arcade game, there's plenty of stereotypes. The Japan team are samurai, the Italy team are gladiators, and so on. But there's also some non-stereotypical teams in there too: Spain are also represented by a team of samurai, and Brazil are represented by a team of guys with electric superpowers? Also, at first glance, Australia's team are the only women in the game, but when the usually-masked Japan team score a goal, the bare-faced portrait that comes up appears to be a short-haired woman, which is interesting, I guess?

In summary, Heavy Smash is a game that's a lot of fun to play, and it looks awesome, too. Plus, it's yet another game you can look at and ask "why did this never get a home port?" So go and do both those things!


  1. I wonder if the brazilian team all grew up in the jungle, raised by electric eels...