Smash TV (Williams, 1990)
"BIG Money! BIG Prizes! I LOVE IT!"
It's Smash TV, the most violent game show of all time!
YOU are the next lucky contestant!
With gameplay derived from
and a theme inspired by the classic action flick
The Running Man,
this game marked Williams' re-entry into the world of video games.
Smash TV appeared during the tail end of my second
year in University. I credit the game as being the single biggest
factor that kept me sane during this period.
I also consider Smash TV as the game that marked
the end of the "drought" of creative ideas that so badly mauled
my opinion of arcades towards the end of the 1980s.
Yes, there were some other great games released during this time,
but Smash TV is the first one that immediately transported
me back in time and made me remember what I enjoyed about
video games in the first place!
The graphics and sound may have been new and flashy, but the style of
play was 100% "classic". The "game show" theme and cavalier attitude
towards violence may have added to my enjoyment of the experience,
but the thing that kept me pumping in the quarters was the gameplay.
There's a lesson for would-be game designers in there, I'm sure.
Anyways, kudos and thanks to the Williams crew for keeping me in
the arcades and out of the loony bin (well, University was pretty
loony too, but that's another story) during the early '90s.
Prequels and sequels:
- Robotron: 2084:
Although not truly a prequel,
it's quite clear that Robotron: 2084 provided
much of the inspiration behind Smash TV.
The use of identical control panels, the intensity of the action,
and the sheer quantity of enemies thrown at the player
lead me to consider Robotron:2084 as a prequel for
- Total Carnage:
Williams, Bally, and Midway have been working interdependently
for the past several years. Perhaps the best example of this
was Total Carnage,
the Midway team's answer to Williams' Smash TV.
Hinted at in the Smash TV credits, it turned out to be
not just a brilliantly hilarious sendup of the Persian Gulf War,
but an equally brilliant sendup of Smash TV, and the
video game industry in general.
The Pleasure Domes:
Ah, the elusive Pleasure Domes. No description of Smash TV
would be complete without it. So here's the scoop:
- Can I get there at all?
The Pleasure Domes only exist on games with ROM revision 8.00
("L8 ROMs") and higher.
- How do I get there?
- Collect keys. Every once in a while, a little "key" icon will be
dropped on the floor. According to the messages produced at the start
of each level on an L8 machine, you need ten keys to get in. Depending
on how your game is set up, this can be difficult or impossible, unless you...
- ...go through the mazes in such a way as to get as many
"$" rooms as poosible. On the second level (i.e. the one
following your victory over Mutoid Man), the nearest of these
levels will start you off with a sprinkling, not of prizes
but of keys. You should have no trouble picking up ten
keys in this room alone.
- After defeating the Cobra Boss and entering the secret rooms,
you'll eventually come to a room which will end with a choice of
directions: right or down.
Heading right will take you to the final battle with the
Game Show Host.
Heading down will take you into the Pleasure Domes.
And yes, the visual effects (and prizes!) are well worth the
hour or so of play it takes to see them.
- Tell me more!
So far, I've only reached the Outer Pleasure Dome.
After completing it, I was forced to leave the way I came in and
finish the game by battling the game show host.
There may be more Pleasure Domes waiting for players who collect
more keys. As I've only been playing on L8 ROMs for a couple of
weeks as of this writing (25 Sep 95), I'll report more as I learn more.
Smash TV runs on the Williams
Y-Unit hardware platform.
This consists of both a motherboard and a sound board.
The Y-Unitmotherboard is squarish in shape
and has a TMS34010 processor to do most of the work, and
a VLSI ASIC designed by Williams taking care of the graphics.
The sound board is of the design featuring two audio amplifiers.
One of these days, I'll make a Y-Unit page
and document the variations on the theme. For now, you'll
have to wait.
ROM locations, checksums, preferably in table format.
Other info on custom parts and/or PLDs also here.
Pinouts and Switches: