Smash TV

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Smash TV
SmashTV flyer.jpg
Arcade flyer
Developer(s)Williams, Probe Software (Genesis/Master System/Game Gear/ZX Spectrum), Beam Software (NES/SNES)
Designer(s)Eugene Jarvis
Programmer(s)Mark Turmell
Artist(s)John Tobias
Tim Coman
Composer(s)Jon Hey (Arcade)
Marshall Parker (NES/SNES)
Matt Furniss(Game Gear/Genesis)
Tony Williams (Amiga/ST)
Jeroen Tel (C64)
Platform(s)Arcade, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga, Commodore 64, Game Gear, Genesis, Master System, NES, SNES, ZX Spectrum
  • NA: April 1990
Genre(s)Multidirectional shooter
Two player co-op
Arcade systemMidway Y Unit
SoundM6809 @ 2 MHz
Yamaha YM2151 @ 3.57958 MHz
2 x DAC
DisplayRaster resolution 410×256 (vertical)

Smash TV is a 1990 arcade game created by Eugene Jarvis and Mark Turmell for Williams.[2] It revolves around a futuristic, violent game show in which players move through a series of rooms collecting prizes and clearing out waves of enemies using guns and power-up abilities. It is a dual-stick shooter in the same vein as 1982's Robotron: 2084 (co-created by Jarvis).

The Super NES, Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear versions were titled Super Smash TV.


The play mechanic is similar to that of Eugene Jarvis' earlier Robotron: 2084, with dual-joystick controls and series of single-screen arenas. While most of the enemies Robotron are visible at the start of a level, in Smash TV they are generated in waves as a level progresses.

The theme of the game, borrowed from The Running Man,[3][4] involves players competing in a violent game show, set in the then-future year of 1999. Moving from one room to the next, players have to shoot hordes of enemies who enter via passages on each side of the screen while also collecting weapons, power-up items, and gift-wrapped prizes. The final room in each level is a protracted fight with a boss.

At the end of the game is a showdown with the show's host where players are finally granted their life and freedom. Among the game's items are keys. If enough are collected, players can access a bonus level called the Pleasure Dome.[5]

Arcade screenshot

The game features verbal interjections from the gameshow host such as "Total Carnage! I love it!" and "I'd buy that for a dollar!". The first of these became the title of the 1992 follow-up, Total Carnage. "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.


Mark Turmell recounted, "When Hasbro pulled the plug on an interactive movie project I was working on, I went to Williams to design coin-op games. I moved to Chicago, hired John Tobias, and together we did our first coin-op, Smash T.V."[6]

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.

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.[5]


Smash TV was ported to consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Game Gear, Master System, and Mega Drive/Genesis. 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 Amiga, all released in early 1992.


Review scores
Amstrad Action96%[9]
Sinclair User94%[11]
Your Sinclair92%[12]
MicroHobby (ES)89%[13]
Sega Master Force44% [16]
CrashCrash Smash!
Sinclair UserSU Silver
Amstrad Action6th best game of all time [17]

The home versions of Smash TV received mixed to positive reviews.

The Amiga version scored 895 out of a possible 1,000 in a UK magazine review,[18] and the Spectrum magazine CRASH awarded the ZX version 97%, making it a Crash Smash.[19]


The 1992 Williams arcade game Total Carnage shares many elements with Smash TV and was also programmed by Turmell, but is not a sequel.


Smash TV is part of Arcade Party Pak released for the PlayStation in 1999.[20]

It is included in the Midway Arcade Treasures collection, which is available for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2 and was released in 2003. These versions give the player the option to save high scores.[21] Smash TV was also part of the 2012 compilation Midway Arcade Origins.[22]

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.[23] It was delisted from the service in February 2010[24] after the dissolution of Midway Games.


  1. ^ "Smash TV". Arcade History.
  2. ^ Smash TV at the Killer List of Videogames
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 19, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Leone, Matt (January 9, 2013). "The story behind Total Carnage's confusing ending". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  6. ^ "Making his Mark: Programmer Mark Turmell". GamePro. IDG (86): 36–37. November 1995.
  7. ^ "Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  8. ^ "Super Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  9. ^ Amstrad Action magazine, issue 75, Future Publishing
  10. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  12. ^ "Smash TV". 1991-11-21. Archived from the original on 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  13. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  14. ^ Smash TV rating, MegaTech issue 12, page 96, December 1992
  15. ^ Mega review, issue 1, page 57, October 1992
  16. ^ "Sega Master Force Issue 3" (3). October 1993: 49. Retrieved December 4, 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ "Amstrad Action All Time Top 10 Games • Retroaction". Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  18. ^ Douglas, Jim (December 1991). Smash TV (review of Amiga version). ACE (UK magazine published by EMAP), pp. 80–85.
  19. ^ [1][dead link]
  20. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (November 1, 1999). "Arcade Party Pak Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  21. ^ Tracy, Tim (November 18, 2003). "Facebook Tweet Midway Arcade Treasures Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Midway Arcade Origins Review". 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  23. ^ Onyett, Charles (December 9, 2005). "Smash TV". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  24. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (February 17, 2010). "More XBLA Games Delisted". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013.

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