Have You Played… Smash TV?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Midway’s utra-violent gameshow shooter/Robotron follow-up didn’t get a true-blue PC release until 2003 (as part of a Midway classics pack), but it was briefly a big part of my life around 1992, as a friend with an Amiga got hold of that version of it. I remember four of us, a loose collective of inbetweeners who fell apart with a year, clustered around his tiny beige screen in a state of joyous, cackling disbelief about the degree of transgression we believed we could see. The deathtoll! The enormous size of the bosses, and the gruesome way they peeled into pieces under our hail of bullets! The ludicrousness of collecting toasters and microwaves amidst all this blood!

The consumerist, TV nation satire was plucked directly from the Running Man and Robocop, and though blunt I’m sure its observations upon the sickness at the heart of the 80s middleclass went right over our heads because we loved the violence, and the collection of points and prizes, so very much.

It was the ideal co-op game for the time too – egging each other on, envying weapon drops, scolding each other for premature deaths, high-fiving when those giant, fleshy bosses were taken down. Y’know those notoriously exaggerated game ads from the 90s, where some kid with spiked hair and a gamepad in his hands is staring with slack-jawed amazement at a screen from which unearthly light pours? Smash TV, the stupid, simple, riotously compulsive thing that it is, was the closest that ever came to reality.


  1. Risingson says:

    Of course I did, first on the Spectrum, later on other platforms. It is still the most brilliant of the Robotron variations, and yes, it was very fun in co op. I guess it still is.

  2. PostieDoc says:

    Amiga Master Race!

  3. Moonracer says:

    This game has a special place in my heart. I think what is great is that everything over the top that you mentioned still holds true to younger gamers seeing it for the first time now. I’m fortunate that a friend of mine opened a “barcade” nearby with about a dozen cabinets, including this gem. So I can go out, get a drink with friends and watch it eat my quarters.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Yes! And it’s actually better now because you can map the controls to the analog sticks on a modern gamepad and it’s much easier to play.

    (I have memories of a mate trying to get the suction-cups of two joysticks to stick to his desk so he could play the Amiga version with the proper directional controls. It was a very sweary day.)

    Though if we’re talking Robotron-likes of the early 90s, Llamatron is still my hands-down favourite.

  5. Turkey says:

    I wouldn’t mind if they brought back a roguelite remake with online multiplayer.

  6. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Not this one, but our local arcade had a Total Carnage machine that I used to play quite a lot.

  7. jon_hill987 says:

    I had this on the SEGA Master System. Loved it, but I am ashamed to admit I never beat the second boss…

    • amusingthebrood says:

      I never played it, but I read old Sega Power magazine when I were a lad. They did a series of game based novellas and I read the Smash TV (and Road Rash) ones repeatedly.

  8. somnolentsurfer says:

    I hadn’t, until a friend took me to Arcade Club in Bury last year. Easily one of the standout cabinets there.

  9. KDR_11k says:

    I’d buy that for a dollar. Never seen it so cheap tho. (to be fair I’ve never seen it in stores at all)

  10. Jason Moyer says:

    Great game, probably dumped more quarters into it than any other coin-op from that era. It’s also the game that always makes me a little excited when a new twin-stick shooter is coming out, and then disappointed when it doesn’t live up to SmashTV’s glory.

  11. NephilimNexus says:

    Big Money!
    Big Prizes!
    I love it!

  12. C0llic says:

    I played this ALOT on the Megadrive. Amazing game.

  13. NoTanFightFan says:

    Are there any modern games like Smash TV that I could play with my brother? I loved this game, but I’ve played it out, and since there is no sequel, I would love if someone could point me to other games very similar to this one. Thanks guys.

    You know, seriously, how has a developer not created a game like this that randomly generates levels like the Binding of Isaac? This is the perfect template for a multiplayer game with randomly generated levels.