Smash TV: The Future is Now

Smash TV: The Future is Now

I've hinted at my goal of finding a good project piece on the arcade front that I could try my hand at restoration work. I've never considered myself much of a handyman but between various small projects at CoWork and smaller repairs with the games we own I've gotten more acclimated to that work and amassed a decent set of tools to work from. I had originally hoped to restore a Robotron 2084 and bought the ROM and Sound Board so that I'd be ready when I found a decent cabinet for it (in fact our Joust is in a Robotron cab, but I could never bring myself to gut it unless a better Joust came along to replace it, it's my favorite game in the collection right now). This past week someone posted about a Smash TV project where they had sourced all the parts and artwork, but after a year of it sitting they were giving up on finding the time to put into it. It was the siren call of opportunity that I couldn't resist and without a doubt a perfect test of the idea of framing a makerspace in arcade repair and restoration.

For anyone who hadn't heard of this game, it was designed by Eujene Jarvis (notable in that he is also the designer of Defender and Robotron 2084) and in many ways the gameplay mechanics of Smash TV is very reminicent of Robotron with dual joystick controls for movement and firing. The premise of the game is quite a bit darker, however, with the year set in 1999 and a popular game show in which the contestants battle for cash, prizes, and their life while it's all streamed to television for the audience's viewing pleasure. The inspiration from The Running Man (1987) is pretty obvious.

The Running Man Trailer (1987)

Smash TV came out in 1990, which makes it our first arcade game of that decade and was popular enough that it was ported to many other systems included SNES and Sega Genesis and saw a spiritual sequel in the game Total Carnage. It also happens to be another in a growing collection of Williams games at Reclaim Arcade.

Smash TV (1990) Gameplay

I'll no doubt be posting regular on this project. The seller noted that someone could probably spend a weekend and get it up and running, I'm not so optimistic at my own abilities, but also want to take the time to do it right with a clean restore. The parts tell a really interesting story of how these machines become Frankenstein's of arcade owners moving to different titles both to keep interest alive but primarily when a game wouldn't play well and thus not make as much money it's easier to slap new artwork and a board/controller set than to buy a brand new machine. This cabinet was converted to a Golden Tee and the control panel the seller had sourced was converted to an Area 51 complete with gun holsters. In fact if you look closely you can even see the Smash TV overlay underneath the Area 51 art. New control panel, marquee, and bezel art is all included as well as the electronics. I'll have to source side art but otherwise it should be parts complete. Here's a few pictures of everything:

I will likely start by cleaning up the cabinet, removing all the Golden Tee guts, and seeing if I can get it to a point where the game boots and plays with what I have and then start the actual clean up and restore of all the artwork. So yeah, stay tuned as this project develops!