With the popularity, fame and challenge of Smash TV, it was only a matter of time before it got a sequel, or in this case a spin off. One of the famous lines from the game was “Total Carnage; I love it;” so now here we are with Total Carnage, an overhead run and gun for one or two players simultaneous. It is a game known for its ruthless blood and guts is here on the squeaky clean SNES, but you know its still a lot of fun.
The game uses the same control scheme as Smash TV, with the D-pad to move and the four face buttons to aim and shoot. A is east, X is north, A + X is northeast. You get the picture. Its a great control scheme and I’m happy the Super Nintendo has the four buttons to make use of it.
The big, bold art style is back from Smash TV. Big muscles, big faces, big bodies, probably the closest and larges characters on screen out of any Super Nintendo game. Well that is for the cut scenes. The normal game, they’re typical and small, to fit a lot of action and chaos on screen at once.
There are numerous small enemies, and large, detailed vehicles and bosses. The vehicles make it stand apart from Smash TV, because they’re so big without being bosses. The bosses stay well past their welcome, just like the bosses from Smash TV. Taking one down is an extensive ordeal. Each boss loses body parts and shows damage rather than a simple health bar. Other than that, there are hazards such as explosive barrels and mines that will kill you instantly. Both are easily marked and easy to avoid, until the action gets chaotic.
Other than enemies, there are also civilians to rescue instead of Smash TV’s cash and prizes. The civilians just run by for you to collect and the best part is they’re immune to your bullets. You can also find flags and extra mines to collect and use as weapons for bosses and tanks.
Like most overhead, run and gun games, you start out after being dropped from above. Well the limitations of the Super Nintendo only show your parachutes on the ground next to you. The objective is simple really, stay alive! Lucky for you there are plenty of lives and continues.
Total Carnage has a lot of great weapons and fun powerups. In terms of weapons, there are spread guns, rocket launchers and my favorite, the flamethrower. As for powerups, you have speed shoes and a personal shield to keep you safe for a while. When you die, and you will, you’ll come in with the same shield for protection. Like others in the overhead run and gun genre, its one bullet and you’re dead.
While Smash TV traps you in rooms, this game has you out in the open, but still restricted by the movement of the screen. You don’t control the scrolling or the pace, the game does. It will stop the progress in order to flood the area with enemies. Its an impressive feat to see all of the enemies on screen at once. When an exit opens up for you to fight the boss, it will kill you if you wait too long to exit. The game will still bait you with civilians to save so you stick around longer. Its a nice risk and reward.
One of the big issues that I have with the game is that its so much easier than Smash TV, it feels like I can just walk in, play for less than an hour and have it completed without failing. There are several times when there is just one or two enemies on the screen. When you fire more bullets than stars in the sky, the enemies end up dead in a flash and leaves you with nothing to do while you wait for the screen to scroll.
It is still a tough game at times, but the at some point it gets dull and monotonous. Its odd that I think that, because Smash TV is just shooting people in rooms, yet somehow I found that more fun and engaging than Total Carnage. Some sections of fighting vehicles get old really fast without any sort of challenge or threat. These fights against vehicles feel like its the game’s way of diversifying combat, but it just falls short. Other times, an area is full of mines with civilians to lure you into them.
My other complaint is that there are also plenty of cut scenes that stop the flow of the game. I guess in the arcade it was always good to have big animated characters yelling funny things to get attention so you can get a second player playing. You could also see it as a reward every four minutes to have a break.
While Total Carnage is still a good game, I just see it as less than Smash TV. It needed to have a better follow up than something that will inevitably get lost in the shuffle. Even without gore, the game still has a lot going for it. Bright colors, big visuals, good gameplay, but it just gets tiresome, even before the short one hour play through.