Smash TV

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This article is about the arcade game. For the U.S. television show, see Smash (TV series).
Smash TV
SmashTV flyer.jpg
Promotional arcade flyer
Developer(s) Williams
Publisher(s) Williams
Designer(s) Eugene Jarvis
Programmer(s) Mark Turmell
Artist(s) John Tobias
Tim Coman
Composer(s) Jon Hey
Platform(s) Arcade, Various
Release date(s)
  • NA April 1990
Genre(s) Run and gun, shoot 'em up
Mode(s) Single-player
Two player co-op
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Midway Y Unit Software
Sound M6809 @ 2 MHz
Yamaha YM2151 @ 3.57958 MHz
2 x DAC.
Display Raster resolution 410×256(Vertical) Many Colors

Smash TV, known as Super Smash TV on some other versions, is a 1990 arcade game created by Eugene Jarvis and Mark Turmell for Williams.[1] It is a run and gun game in the same vein as its predecessor, Robotron: 2084 (also produced by Jarvis). As in the previous game, players battle waves of enemies by using guns; the arcade version even uses the two-joystick control system of Robotron. The plot of Smash TV revolves around a futuristic game show in which players compete for various prizes as well as their lives.

Home versions were developed for various platforms, most of which were published by Acclaim Entertainment.


The play mechanic is very similar to that of Eugene Jarvis' earlier Robotron: 2084, with dual-joystick controls and series of single-screen areas. The theme of the game, borrowed from The Running Man,[2][3] involves players competing in a violent game show, set in the then future year of 1999. Moving from one room to the next within the studio/arena, players have to shoot down hordes of enemies who advance from all sides while at the same time collecting weapons, power-up items, and assorted bonus prizes, until a final showdown with the show's host where players are finally granted their prizes, life and freedom. Among the game's items are keys – if enough keys are collected, players can access a bonus level called the Pleasure Dome.[4]

Arcade screenshot

The game features verbal interjections from the gameshow host such as "Total Carnage! I love it!", "dude!" and "I'd buy that for a dollar!". The former quote gives itself to the title of the 1991 follow-up, Total Carnage, which, while not a direct sequel, features similar gameplay. The quote "I'd buy that for a dollar!" is a reference to the catchphrase of Bixby Snyder, a fictional television comic in the 1987 film RoboCop.


The announcer in the game is voiced by sound designer Paul Heitsch. The script was created by the game's sole composer and sound designer Jon Hey. The voice of General Ahkboob in the follow-up game Total Carnage is Ed Boon, coding creator of Mortal Kombat. In the Smash TV flyer image [right] the hands at the console are Ed Boon's (left) and Jon Hey's (right).

Originally the arcade game shipped without the Pleasure Dome bonus level implemented, although there was text mentioning it in the game. The design team had not been sure that players would actually get to the end of the game. However, players did finish the game and after arcade operators informed Williams of player complaints of being unable to finish it, the company sent out a new revision that included the Pleasure Dome level.[4]

In an interview first made available on Arcade Party Pak, Eugene Jarvis and Mark Turmell both agreed that a Smash TV sequel had been contemplated.[5]

Flyer Art Differences[edit]

The original arcade flyer shows a screen capture of the player's battle with the third arena boss, "Die Cobros". This photo shows a different incarnation of the cobras where they both appear colored in green, whereas in the final version, the left cobra is pink and the right one is blue. Most noticeable is that the photo shows the cobras both emerging from the top door, rather than from holes in the playing field as seen in the final version of the game. The floor in the photo is also different from the final version with different tiling and missing exit arrows. A Twitter response from John Tobias reveals that the image was simply a mock up done for the flyer: "John Tobias ‏@therealsaibot Apr 2 - @xxxx: that screen was mock art created for the flyer. The actual cobras hadn't been coded yet."


Resetting the machine during game play will take the player to the scoring screen with the message "Warp #3 Activated = Secret Key". After scoring is complete, the player will immediately be taken to the beginning of next arena. If the trick is used beyond the first room of arena 3 and up to the end credits, the player is returned to the beginning of arena 3.

A quick way to accumulate enough keys to enter the Pleasure Dome is to visit the lower "$" bonus room located toward the beginning of arena 3. Upon entering this bonus room, the player is immediately presented with a large amount of keys to collect.


Smash TV was ported to consoles, including the NES, SNES/Super Famicom (as Super Smash TV),[6] the Sega Game Gear, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive (as Super Smash TV). On some home systems such as the NES, players have the option to use the directional pad on the second controller to control the direction the character will shoot on-screen. Using this option for both players requires a multitap.[7] The dual control aspect of the game works particularly well on the SNES, as its four main buttons, A, B, X and Y, are laid out like a D-pad, enabling the player to shoot in one direction while running in another.[8]

Home computer versions were produced by Ocean for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, all released in early 1992. The Amiga version scored 895 out of a possible 1000 in a UK magazine review,[9] and the Spectrum magazine CRASH awarded the ZX version 97%, making it a Crash Smash.[10]

Review scores
Publication Score
Amstrad Action 96%[14]
Crash 97%[12]
Sinclair User 94%[13]
Your Sinclair 92%[11]
MicroHobby 89%[15]
MegaTech 70%[16]
Mega 37%[17]
Publication Award
Crash Crash Smash!
Sinclair User SU Silver
Amstrad Action 6th best game of all time [18]

It is part of Arcade Party Pak which was released for the PlayStation in 1999.[19]

It is also part of the Midway Arcade Treasures collection, which is available for the PC, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2 and was released in 2003. These versions give the player the option to save high scores.[20] Smash TV was also part of the 2012 compilation Midway Arcade Origins.[21]

Smash TV was made available for download through Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade service on the Xbox 360 and was the first version of the game to officially allow two players to play the game online.[22] However the game was delisted from the service in February 2010[23] after the dissolution of Midway Games.


  1. ^ "Smash T.V.". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 5 Oct 2013. 
  2. ^ Smash TV Review
  3. ^ Smash TV Review (Xbox 360)
  4. ^ a b Leone, Matt (January 9, 2013). "The story behind Total Carnage's confusing ending". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ Digital Eclipse (November 1, 1999). "Arcade Party Pak (Smash TV Developer interview)". PlayStation. Midway Games. Turmell: We were talking about doing a Smash TV sequel. 
  6. ^ "Super Smash TV Review". Game Freaks 365. Retrieved 2010-07-08. 
  7. ^ "Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Super Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  9. ^ Douglas, Jim (December 1991). Smash TV (review of Amiga version). ACE (UK magazine published by EMAP), pp. 80–85.
  10. ^ [1] Crash 94
  11. ^ "Smash TV". 1991-11-21. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  12. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  13. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  14. ^ Amstrad Action magazine, issue 75, Future Publishing
  15. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  16. ^ Smash TV rating, MegaTech issue 12, page 96, December 1992
  17. ^ Mega review, issue 1, page 57, October 1992
  18. ^ "Amstrad Action All Time Top 10 Games • Retroaction". Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  19. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (November 1, 1999). "Arcade Party Pak Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Tracy, Tim (November 18, 2003). "Facebook Tweet Midway Arcade Treasures Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Onyett, Charles (December 9, 2005). "Smash TV". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  23. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (February 17, 2010). "More XBLA Games Delisted". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 

External links[edit]