Smash TV - Williams

Smash TV

Reviewed by Shib

"Contestant One!"

Okay, so lets set the story here. In about one year (1999) this game show called Smash TV will start up and become wildly popular due to its attraction of big bucks and above all, violence!

"TOTAL CARNAGE! I love it!"

In a couple of words, that about describes it. Smash TV, along with NARC, was Williams re-entry into the video game world. It's set in the future where you're a contestant on the game show Smash TV.


Smash TV borrowed a lot from the classic game Robotron. I've never played Robotron, but supposedly it utilized a new concept on an arcade machine -- no buttons. There were only two joysticks, one to walk around, and the other to fire. Smash TV works in the same way. I even think some of the team that created Robotron were involved in this game. The home versions also supported the two controller idea, but I never tried it like that, the 4 buttons on the SNES controller were perfect for this game and became second nature in no time. It's also got a "Running Man" theme to it, the Ar-nuld flick in which he's a joker running around a game show field and killing guys.

The Smash TV dude At the time of its' release, in 90 (and 91 for home systems), the graphics and sound were top notch. Today, however, little pixel men running around non-anti-aliased rooms just doesn't cut it. But it doesn't matter, for what this game lacks in what may now be sub-par graphics, it makes up for in sheer intensity and fun! There are only 3 levels (or 4 depending on how you look at things, but I'll get to that later) in this game, meaning that music is pretty limited. Especially since the main theme also spills into the first level as background music. The music though is cool, it fits right into the game and helps you keep going. It definitely will implant itself in your head after a while, and that's not a bad thing!

Basically the game is broken into 3 arenas. Each arena is split up into rooms, there are several ways to go through each arena until you face up with a boss. This may not sound like a lot of levels, but you have to factor in the time it takes to clear a room. When you start out it may only take a few minutes to clear out a room, but as you progress it takes more time, not to mention bosses. Take an average of 5 minutes to clear a room and multiply it by an average of between 6 to 8 rooms for 3 arenas and you clearly find that in order to finish this game it's gonna take a lot of your time.

Along the way you'll pick up lots of goodies. Most important of all are the guns! There's your average array of firearms in this game, spread, grenade launcher and rockets, but also some new that fit right in, like arching bombs (which only show up for bosses). There are also other things like an orb that shoots in sync with you, invincible shield rings, and the shooter staple, speed-ups. But one item stands above all in this game, the 1-ups. I don't care how bad the situation is, when you see a 1-up appear, go for it. You'll be surprised at your level of skill going after one of these. And when it pops up, go for it fast, even if you die, you'll come back with an invincible shield ring and be able to pick it up no prob, negating your loss.

Now what review would leave out the "Pleasuredomes"? Well this one. Actually I'm not totally up to speed on the whole pleasuredomes thing, I'm not sure if anyone is. I think it goes something like this. You need to pick up a whole bunch of those "key" icons, and then choose the right path through the game. Then you find some hidden rooms with a whole bunch of good stuff in them. There's also probably a different ending if you find it (them?). Anyways, that's the extent of my knowledge on that.

This game is so well done, that at any given time I can pick it up and start playing it some more. That says a lot about it. As mentioned earlier, Smash TV parallels Robotron in many ways, as sort of an unofficial sequel. Another game that should be mentioned is "Total Carnage". This was sort of an unofficial sequel to Smash TV. It was more of a parody about video game violence and the gulf war at the time. It was more based outside and is a vertical scroller. Many people liked it, but to me it was rather disappointing, but since it's not officially a sequel then I can't really complain (unlike those horrid Contra games of late). This game remains popular to me and many other shooter fans alike. Don't pass up the chance to play this if you haven't already.

A truly outstanding game: 10/10


Level 1
And we're off to the races. Level 1 isn't too difficult. It's basically filled with canon fodder so you can give your gun a work out. A good strategy to employ is to park your arse in a corner (I prefer either of the bottom corners) and then enemies can only come at you in two basic directions. It gets hard when you have those tank guys causing havoc with your precision aiming though.

This is a "$", or bonus room. It's like a regular room but when you first get there a whole bunch of goodies will pop up. Be cautious when roaming around and picking them up, thare be land mines under a few of them!

"No way!"

This is Mutoid Man. Can you guess which door he came out of? Who does he think he is? Coming in here with arms flailing and shooting lasers out of his eyes? Even normal bullets don't do anything against him. Actually he's not that hard, all you need to know is that he can't fire behind himself, a good place to run when he's driving around.

"Big money, big prizes, ... I love it!"

After every level all your bonus prizes and cash are tabulated. And there's a lot, especially if you're only one player, ... and greedy. 2.6 mil? Is that all I got?
You know what though? I'd gladly give it all up for a bodycount-o-meter! That's the only thing this game is missing.

Level 2
This is your average level 2 room. Most of the bad guys are faster robots instead of the grunts found in level 1. I believe the second arena is the hardest in the whole game.
Look carefully and you'll see I just picked up a prize in the form of a "luxurious vacation". Just one of the many prizes you'll find, not to be outdone by Lawn Mowers, Luggage, Quality Beef Products and the Home Game (of course).

Meet Scarface, or as I like to call him, Pain in the Ass! I'm sure I'm not the only one who knows him by his other names, and there are many. Normal bullets work on him, but the key is to blow off all his little armour on every side, which is tuff cuz he's fast and it's especially hard on the underside of his face since he doesn't give that up too easily. Expect to go through a few lives on him.

Level 3
Level 3 has sort of a "woodsy" feel to it. On a side note, although not so memorable, this theme music was stuck in my head for DAYS once. You'll find some new target practice volunteers here. The guys mostly consist of snake-like guys, snakes being spit out of those trees on the walls and more guys from level 1 and some from 2.

Cobra Boss. I don't have too much to say about him, just a couple of snakes coming out of the floor trying to kill me. Normal bullets work, and it doesn't matter which head you shoot. Just move around a lot.

Level 4
This isn't really level 4 since this room comes right after you kill the Cobra Boss. Anyways, I call it level 4. It may look like a bonus prize room, but all the rooms in this "level" look like that. They're populated by those bat wielding bums, among others, like in level 1, but now there's more of them. Instead of like 5 minutes to clear a room, it may take anywhere from 10 to 15! ... And we're not done yet!

After a couple more rooms you'll either end up in a pleasuredome, or fight this clown. Either way, you fight him eventually. He's the game show host, MC Mayhem. He looks and fights the same way as Mutoid Man, substituting only a stream of eyeballs instead of lasers this time. He may be a little more powerful and faster than Mutoid Man but beat his ass the same way.

After you dispose of the game show host, a whole cornucopia of prizes will show up for you to get your filthy little mitts on. After that, this "?" icon appears. When you get it it tells you to "COLLECT FOUR MORE!". Uhhhhhhhhh ... I don't think so. This must have something to do with the whole hidden rooms and pleasuredomes thing which I never really figured out, nor cared too much about either.

If you had any doubts as to whether this game was a shooter/shmup or not, then this el' cheapo ending will make you realize that indeed it ranks in the shooter category. This is what I like to call a "Konami" or "Capcom" ending. It basically tells you the average stuff, good job, how great you are, blah, blah, blah. I've never finished it with all the hidden rooms and pleasuredomes and it tells me to go play some more till I do. Like i said before, ... uhhhhhh, I don't think so ...


This review is a bit of a first: Thanks for making the whole thing up in the exact shmups format Shib! Clever bloke so he is!

I first played Smash TV in the arcades, and yes, I think you're right it was a Eugene Jarvis game... eh, I think. Not sure. (Dunno what he's playing at now with all these average-ish racing games he's making these days) Then I played the megadrive version, which was crippled by poor button control, and finally I bought the SNES one, which used the 4 snes joypad buttons to excellent effect. The followup, Total Carnage, I didn't like so much... too hard for me! - Malc


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie