Nickelodeon: (January 1992 - September 1993)
Game Shows that are based off of video games fit one of three categories: Starcade, Arena, or completely horrible. After Starcade, JM Productions tried to bring video games to real life with The Video Game. It turned out to be one of the biggest train wrecks of the 80s game show field. The problem was that they took away the video game playing out of a game show that was supposed to be about video games. The only times anybody played video games was the qualifier and the bonus game, which was directly ripped from Starcade. I mention The Video Game because in 1992, Nickelodeon completely carbon-copied the problems of The Video Game and add so many other problems that it forced my hand to induct it. What came of it was a mess that for some odd reason has a huge following online. That mess is affectionately known as Nick Arcade.
Now, if you've read my You're On induction you know who this goofy smiling nimrod is. This is Phil Moore. He got his break in the business by being the warm-up comedian for the lone Florida season of Remote Control. The main thing I remember from that is the line "He tells jokes, sometimes" from stagehand Chris Iller. The video might still be up on YouTube. Here, he just gets on everybody's nerves fast, especially with his Pie-yow's and his annoying non-rhyming rhymes when they go to the Video Challenge area of the set or when they go back to home base. It gets to the point where you want to listen to Michael Cole's Commentary on Raw and Smackdown every week.
The show kicks off with a toss-up game. It's a game created by the producers and from Psygnosis games. They were ok, but I'd rather have them play actual games that we could go buy in a store and not Show-only games. It's what really irked me about Hi Score's end game of Dinky Bomb. Mainly they were bad versions of Pong, some lame form of Missile Command and a generic run from left to right game where you have to avoid several obstacles and whatnot. This was made worse by Phil's annoying commentary. If you had a half-decent host in there, it wouldn't be so bad, but it just gets bogged down hard.
Anyways, time for the meat of the game. The team that's in control has to guide Mikey, a blatant rip-off of Mike from the Startropics game, to the goal on a 3x6 grid. Each one of the boxes contain various things, as Phil calls them the 4 P's.
Points, which just is what it says. Bonus points that get added to your score.
Various video puzzles. Now this is where the show gets bogged down. Most of the video puzzles take about 20 seconds to explain and another 30 seconds - 1 minute to play it all out. The puzzles vary from guessing how many times X happens to trying to figure out what music video is playing while the video is being distorted, to trying to find 3 of a kind out of 5 flashing images. While it was an interesting idea, these questions fit more on Get The Picture or Think Fast rather than a game that's supposedly about video games.
Pop Quizzes, which are multiple choice/regular questions that are asked. These are fine, but still not about video games.
Prizes! These are standard Nick-fare bonus prizes. These are quite good, and are an apt reward for finding them.
What they really did well are the enemies that, if hit, give control to the other team. It's like a Wipeout, just that you don't lose any points. Above is a video featuring them all. The most known is "Game Over", the town bully and the Witch Doctor. The video that's above shows them off. They are nicely done and probably are the best thing about the show.
Now we finally talk about a video game matter in the Video Challenges. This is where you expect the show to shine. Unfortunately though, this is where it also falls apart. I bet you that they never let the contestants play the games beforehand, so they often didn't know what to do. That was one of the beauties of Starcade and Video Power, they let the contestants play the games before hand, so they didn't look like outright fools when they were playing. It also doesn't help that Phil loved to do an annoying dance/song number towards the area, which was on the other side of the studio, eating up even more time. Usually, contestants would wander aimlessly with no direction from Phil or their partner. Then again, this is to be expected, since some of the games were for the Neo Geo and the Turbo Grafx, which were only owned by rich kids or those who lucked out in the early 90s and got them for $50, respectively.
The bonus game is just one big mess. While I give them credit for doing something really inventive, it becomes a double edged sword due to not allowing contestants to run through them in advance due to the technicalities of it all, which is what doomed Nadine looking back at it now. Either way, the contestants were put in front of a green screen and had to wave their arms around and run around and "touch" rings, humans, books, whathaveyou. It's so frustratingly bad that in all of the episodes, only about 7 or 8 won the grand prize. That's' a worse record than the Big Numbers on Wink Martindale's High Rollers and that bonus game was much harder than this one. The biggest problem out of all of this is that they would be touching the item, but the computer wouldn't register. Now, you could make the argument that this style of bonus game was way ahead of its time, but they hyped this as their big selling point of the show. There should be no flaws in it at all. That's like if the $100,000 Pyramid's bonus game had you instead of trying to get your partner to say the category, you had to get them to say them in conversational French. That's a gigantic flaw. They had to go through 3 of these levels with the grand prize being a trip to Universal or some electronic package. I remember one prize being a commodore CD System, so that's a really nice prize.
In conclusion, what could have been a fantastic show gets bogged down by several things not associated with video games whatsoever, when the show was about video games to begin with. The format is sluggish and just boring to sit through up until the bonus round, which also can get bogged down as well due to either unresponsive computers or contestants not knowing what to do. The biggest problem of the show is Phil Moore. He had no control over everything, he would often bumble questions and his utter annoyance made me cringe. As a matter of fact, this is the second show I blasted him in. This means...
next week - Phil Moore gets his just due here on Game Show Garbage!