Game Shows Wiki
Bill Goodwin (pilot)
Tom Kennedy (series)
Wendell Niles
Johnny Jacobs
Big Game.jpg
NBC Pilot: 1/8/1958
NBC Primetime: 6/13/1958 – 9/19/1958
Jackson Stanley Productions

"From Hollywood, the following program is brought to you in living color on NBC. (insert what happened last episode) in just a moment, they'll clash in a game worth more than (insert prize money). Welcome to television's most exciting game show in which our guests go hunting not with gun or camera but with quick wits and intuition for big money and BIG GAME! And here's the man who calls our shots, our Junglemeister the star of our show, Tom Kennedy!"

Big Game was a short-lived primetime game show that was based on the classic Milton Bradley board game Battleship, but with an African Safari theme.


Two contestants were each equipped with a game board of 25 spots (in a 5-by-5 grid) out of sight from each other. At the start of each game, each player placed three animals on their boards on the wall. Each animal could take a certain number of hits to be captured by the opponent. Here are the three animals, and their required hits:

  • Hippopotamus – 2 hits
  • Tiger – 3 hits
  • Alligator – 4 hits

Unlike Battleship, players could place animals diagonally on the board as well as horizontally or vertically.

Each player in turn was then (usually) asked a multi-part question from the same category in each round. Each correctly answered part earned shots; between two and five shots were earned per part depending on the perceived difficulty of the question and its parts. Some questions were multiple-choice, where the player was given three choices. Guessing correctly on the first try was worth five shots, while answering correctly from the two remaining answers earned two shots.

When taking shots, the player in control took the earned number of shots out of a chute near their podium. They then placed the shots into a 25-space pegboard. For each shot placed, the corresponding spot on the opponent's board lit up. Each time a lit spot was occupied by an animal, it was called a "direct hit"; placing the appropriate number of shots on any one animal captured the animal.

For each animal captured, the contestant won money deducted from their opponent's winnings. Capturing one animal won $100, and capturing two animals won the contestant an extra $400. The first player to capture all three animals won the game, and an additional $1,500, for a possible grand total of $2,000. The winner of each game became champion and earned the right to face another player.


Ivan Ditmars


Based on the board game "Battleship" by Milton Bradley


NBC Studio 4, Burbank, CA


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  • This was Tom Kennedy's first-ever game show.
  • Big Game was originally piloted for NBC as a candidate to replace Arlene Francis' daytime series. While Frances was instead replaced by Dough Re Mi, it was soon decided to launch Big Game as a Summer primetime series.


Big Game at Game Show Utopia

YouTube Videos[]

A full episode from September 5, 1958