Smash TV
Arcade flyer
Developer(s)Williams and Midway (arcade)
Probe Software (Genesis, Master System, Game Gear, Spectrum)
Beam Software (NES, SNES)
Designer(s)Eugene Jarvis
Programmer(s)Mark Turmell
Artist(s)John Tobias
Tim Coman
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 game created by Eugene Jarvis and Mark Turmell for Williams and Midway.[1] It is a dual-stick shooter (one for moving, avoiding enemies and collecting prizes, and the other for firing) 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 plot centers on a dystopian television show during the then-future year of 1999, where one or two "lucky" contestants must shoot their way to fame and fortune; the show is filmed in front of a live studio audience with broadcast via satellite worldwide. The goal of the game show is to kill or be killed, and once all of the challengers in each arena have been massacred, the contestant(s) will proceed to survive the next gauntlet.


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. Power-ups, some of which give the player a new weapon, are picked up by running over them.

The themes were borrowed from violent, sci-fi films such as RoboCop and The Running Man,[2][3] involves players competing in a violent game show, set in the not-too-distant future. 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 where players can "collect" hundreds of scantily clad women akin to other prizes in the game.[4]

Arcade screenshot
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.


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 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.[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 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]

In 1997 Electronic Gaming Monthly listed Smash TV as the 6th best arcade game of all time.[20] In 2004, Smash TV was inducted into GameSpot's list of the greatest games of all time.[21]


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.[22]

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.[23] Smash TV is also part of the 2012 compilation Midway Arcade Origins.[24]

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.[25] It was delisted from the service in February 2010[26] 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. IDG (86): 36–37. November 1995.
  6. ^ "Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  7. ^ "Super Smash T.V. – Controls". Allgame. Rovi. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  8. ^ Amstrad Action magazine, issue 75, Future Publishing
  9. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  11. ^ "Smash TV". 1991-11-21. Archived from the original on 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  12. ^ "Archive – Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  13. ^ Smash TV rating, MegaTech issue 12, page 96, December 1992
  14. ^ Mega review, issue 1, page 57, October 1992
  15. ^ "Sega Master Force Issue 3" (3). October 1993: 49. Retrieved December 4, 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ "Amstrad Action All Time Top 10 Games • Retroaction". Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  17. ^ "Super Smash T.V. SNES Review Score". Archived from the original on 2019-06-02.
  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. ^ "The 10 Best Arcade Games of All Time". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 100. Ziff Davis. November 1997. p. 130.
  21. ^ "The Greatest Games of All Time: Smash TV". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007.
  22. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (November 1, 1999). "Arcade Party Pak Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  23. ^ Tracy, Tim (November 18, 2003). "Facebook Tweet Midway Arcade Treasures Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  24. ^ "Midway Arcade Origins Review". 2012-11-13. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  25. ^ Onyett, Charles (December 9, 2005). "Smash TV". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  26. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (February 17, 2010). "More XBLA Games Delisted". IGN. Retrieved 30 March 2013.