Smash TV

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Smash TV
Arcade flyer
Developer(s)Williams (arcade)
Probe Software (Genesis, Master System, Game Gear, Spectrum)
Beam Software (NES, SNES)
Probe Software (C64)
Designer(s)Eugene Jarvis
Programmer(s)Mark Turmell
Artist(s)John Tobias
Tim Coman
  • Arcade
    Jon Hey
    Marshall Parker
    Game Gear, Genesis
    Matt Furniss
    Amiga, ST
    Tony Williams
    Jeroen Tel
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
Mode(s)Single-player, two-player co-op
Arcade systemMidway Y Unit

Smash TV is a 1990 arcade video game created by Eugene Jarvis and Mark Turmell for Williams Electronics Games.[1] It is a twin-stick shooter in the same vein as 1982's Robotron: 2084, which was also co-created by Jarvis. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear versions are titled Super Smash TV.

The plot centers on a dystopian television game show in the then-future year of 1999, where one or two contestants shoot attackers in order to survive while collecting money, prizes, and temporary power-ups. The show is taped in front of a live studio audience and broadcast via satellite worldwide. Once all of the challengers in each arena have been massacred, the contestant(s) proceeds to the next room. One room in each level contains a boss which ends the level when defeated.


Arcade screenshot

The play mechanic is similar to that of Eugene Jarvis' earlier Robotron: 2084, with twin-joystick controls and series of single-screen arenas. While most of the enemies in Robotron are visible at the start of a level, in Smash TV they are generated in waves as a level progresses. Power-ups, some of which give the player a new weapon, are picked up by running over them.

The themes were borrowed from violent and dystopian sci-fi blockbuster films from 1987 such as RoboCop and The Running Man.[2][3] The plot involves a wealthy celebrity named Master of Ceremonies (or MC for short) who is hosting and competing in his violent game show, in the not-too-distant future of 1999. MC has the playable contestant(s) moving from one high-tech gauntlet to the next, each player has 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 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 where players can "collect" hundreds of blue bikini-clad blonde and buxom "babes" akin to other prizes in the game.[4]

The game features verbal interjections from the game show 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. The second phrase is from a fictional TV show within 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."[5]

The announcer in the game is voiced by sound designer Paul Heitsch. The script was created by the game's 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.[4]


Smash TV was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Game Gear, Master System, and Sega Genesis consoles. Ocean published ports for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, and Amiga, all released in early 1992.

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.[6] 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.[7]


The arcade game was generally well-received. The Amusement & Music Operators Association (AMOA) gave it the "most innovative game" award in 1990.[23]

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

The Amiga version scored 895 out of a possible 1,000 in a UK magazine review,[8] and the Spectrum magazine CRASH awarded the ZX version 97%, making it a Crash Smash.[10]


In 1997 Electronic Gaming Monthly listed Smash TV as the 6th best arcade game of all time.[24] In 2004, Smash TV was inducted into GameSpot's list of the greatest games of all time.[25] In 1995, Total! rated Super Smash TV 51st on its "Top 100 SNES Games" list.[26] In 1996, GamesMaster ranked the game 84th on their "Top 100 Games of All Time" list.[27]


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.[28]

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.[29] Smash TV is also part of the 2012 compilation Midway Arcade Origins.[30]

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.[31] It was delisted from the service in February 2010[32] after the dissolution of Midway Games.


  1. ^ Smash TV at the Killer List of Videogames
  2. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (November 29, 2005). "Smash TV Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
  3. ^ Soboleski, Brent (December 7, 2005). "Smash TV Review (Xbox 360)". TeamXbox. Archived from the original on January 19, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Leone, Matt (January 9, 2013). "The story behind Total Carnage's confusing ending". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  5. ^ "Making his Mark: Programmer Mark Turmell". GamePro. No. 86. IDG. November 1995. pp. 36–37.
  6. ^ "Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  7. ^ "Super Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Douglas, Jim (December 1991). "Smash TV". ACE. No. 51. pp. 80–85. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  9. ^ Amstrad Action magazine, issue 75, Future Publishing
  10. ^ a b "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ a b Keen, Steve; Anglin, Paul (November 1992). "Smash TV". Computer and Video Games. No. 132. pp. 90–91. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  12. ^ O'Connor, Frank; Boone, Tim (May 1992). "Smash T.V." Computer and Video Games. No. 126. pp. 20–21. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Gus; Paul; Rad (October 1992). "Smash TV". Mean Machines Sega. No. 1. pp. 84–87. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  14. ^ Julian; Rich (May 1992). "Smash T.V." Mean Machines. No. 20. pp. 52–54. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  15. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  16. ^ "Smash TV". 1991-11-21. Archived from the original on 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  17. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  18. ^ Smash TV rating, MegaTech issue 12, page 96, December 1992
  19. ^ Mega review, issue 1, page 57, October 1992
  20. ^ "Sega Master Force Issue 3" (3). October 1993: 49. Retrieved December 4, 2015. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ "Amstrad Action All Time Top 10 Games • Retroaction". Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  22. ^ "Super Smash T.V. SNES Review Score". Archived from the original on 2019-06-02.
  23. ^ "AMOA 1989-90 Award Winners Announced" (PDF). Cash Box. November 10, 1990.
  24. ^ "The 10 Best Arcade Games of All Time". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 100. Ziff Davis. November 1997. p. 130.
  25. ^ "The Greatest Games of All Time: Smash TV". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007.
  26. ^ "Top 100 SNES Games". Total! (43): 46. July 1995. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  27. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time" (PDF). GamesMaster (44): 75. July 1996.
  28. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (November 1, 1999). "Arcade Party Pak Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  29. ^ Tracy, Tim (November 18, 2003). "Facebook Tweet Midway Arcade Treasures Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  30. ^ "Midway Arcade Origins Review". 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  31. ^ Onyett, Charles (December 9, 2005). "Smash TV". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  32. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (February 17, 2010). "More XBLA Games Delisted". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013.

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