Every work of genius needs an underachieving clone, and in the case of Robotron it's, Smash TV. While not really a bad game, it just doesn't manage to reach the heights of its predecessor, mostly because of one small change to the gameplay.
In the far-flung future world of 1999, game shows are violent affairs where heavily armed men try to kill each other as brutally as possible. In Smash TV, one or two players are plunked down in the middle of an arena while hordes of attackers try to beat, bludgeon, and shoot them into a gory pulp. Controlled in the classic Robotron style, with one 8-way stick used to move and another to fire, our contestants blast their way through the unending stream of enemies towards victory and fabulous prizes.
Each single-screen level is set up in a room of the television studio, complete with camera rigging and a wonderfully smarmy announcer. Cash, gold, weapon power-ups, and prizes appear during the enemy swarm, all to be picked up for points or enhanced carnage. Run, shoot, snag goodies, and then move on to the next room to do it again. It's good mindless fun, for the most part.
What lets the game down is the way it introduces enemies to the level. At the start there will be a handful of guys arrayed around the room, and then doors start opening to introduce more. The problem is that there's no way of knowing when a door will open, what's going to come through, and how many more waves of enemies until level's end. Unlike Robotron, where you can see what needs to be done from the moment it starts, Smash TV seems like it's throwing piles of baddies out at random until it just doesn't want to any more. The randomness of the creature entrances makes planning the action almost impossible.
On the positive side, the multiplayer is a lot of fun. Two-player cooperative simultaneous blasting is always entertaining, and Smash TV is mindless enough that you can shoot and chat at the same time. While Smash TV gets old fast in single-player, its well worth the time when played with friends.