“…a wonderfully nostalgic afternoon of ‘60s TV fixing pleasure. How could anybody say no?”
Sometimes in gaming, just as in life itself, simplicity is key. SUPERCORE Games were aware of this fact when they decided to bring TV Trouble to the world. Available for free on Steam, the game is small and simple but offers a good hour or so of fun at no cost to you other than your time. The premise is simple; all you have to do is fix some old TVs…
The actual background to TV Trouble is that the year is 1967, and you are working on a factory repairing out-of-signal television sets. The style of the game compliments the era well, combining real life broadcast videos with quirky, almost deco-style TV sets. Even the HUD design is fantastic, with a big and bold stylisation that is as easy to read as it is on the eye. Whilst the game itself may be small and basic, many others could learn from its perfectly-crafted aesthetics.
If the visuals make the game attractive, the audio effects further this to give it authenticity. Playing TV Trouble is like a trip into the past with genuine-sounding fuzzing, buzzing and disturbance making the broken TVs sound all too real and familiar. In real life this might be a drag, but in this little video game world it is unusually brilliant. Never before have bad signs on your TV set been a more immersive experience to interact with.
Gameplay in TV Trouble revolves around three simple movements. In order to program the TV sets, you must push buttons, twist dials and move aerials until you get a clear image on the screen. The clearer the image you achieve, the more points you earn, with the ultimate goal being to gain as many points as you can before the timer runs out. Each element is controlled using different keys or buttons, depending on whether you are using a controller or a keyboard to play. Whilst learning which keys perform which actions is a little complicated at first, it gets easier once you get into the swing of things. Then the game starts getting competitive.
With the aim of the game being to get the highest score possible, TV Trouble becomes the ideal party game to play with a small group of friends, or even just one competitively-minded opponent. If anything, the simple game misses this trick in its features list. The gameplay is plenty enough to entertain for a free game, but a multiplayer mode would have made the experience better still. A dedicated high-scores table, even if it was only a local one, would also be a great little addition. What we get instead is a grade certificate, which although gratifying doesn’t last long or provide much in the way of bragging rights.
Despite its forgivable drawbacks, TV Trouble has clearly been put together with maximum effort considering it has been released as a totally free game. Features such as controller support are frequently missed in bigger games, so it is nice to see someone put in the effort to include this. Furthermore, a brief flurry of realistic achievement gives an otherwise repetitive and story-less experience some purpose. In a way, these provide your objective in the game, giving your efforts some reason. Complete these and you can happily consider yourself to have completed the game as a whole.
Most gamers will reasonably go into TV Trouble not expecting too much, given that the game is free. Those that chance it however will be met with a pleasant surprise. Although limited, this game offers a couple of hours of good old-fashioned fun, and it looks good while it does it. TV Trouble makes for a quick and easy title to blitz through with friends on a quiet but competitive Sunday afternoon, and a swift finish for achievement hunters everywhere. Truly, all this game is missing is a proper multiplayer experience. Provide that and a more fleshed out collection of content, and a bigger and brighter version of the game could easily sell on the Steam store. For a free game however, you receive a wonderfully nostalgic afternoon of ‘60s TV fixing pleasure. How could anybody say no?
TV Trouble was reviewed on PC via Steam