Before we wrap up 1991, let’s quickly discuss the zany kids’ talk showÂ What Would You Do?Â hosted by Marc Summers that debuted on August 31, 1991.
The show was simply about Marc getting the audience into crazy situations and doing crazy dares, games, and obstacles to win small prizes. For the loser of those games, they would get hit in the face with a pie. Almost everyone involved got messy, including Marc himself.
There were special guest appearances on the show, fun games involving with pies, and crazy pie contraptions that the kids would get into in the end. An example would be the infamous Pie Pod in which the kid would sit at a seat where four or five pies would hit him all over.
There was also the pie coaster in which someone would ride a mini roller coaster and run over a huge pie at the end.
There was also the pie slide in which someone would ride a slide all the way down a giant pie.
There was also the pie wash which was kind of similar to a car wash. But instead of a car washed with soap and water, it was a kid being washed with pie creme.
There were other pie themed situations that happened on the show, but you get the idea.
One last thing that they would do at the end of every episode is call out numbers that the audience would have. If Marc called out that number, then you would have a chance to pick out a prize at the Wall-O-Stuff. You could pick from any numbers from 1 to 20. The prizes range from aÂ What Would You Do?Â hat, T-shirt, water bottle, or sweatshirt to a trip to the Pie Pod, the Pie Coaster, or the Pie Wash, or some other cool surprises.
The show had around 90 episodes and ended its run in 1993.
Overall, it was a pretty zany, crazy, and kooky show and I enjoyed it as a kid. However, I was more of aÂ Double DareÂ fan as a kid and I would see that show more as opposed toÂ What Would You Do?Â As you recall from my interview with Marc Summers, he didn’t really enjoy hosting the show really much thinking it was too weird and strange. If this is the kind of show that interests you, check it out. If not, then I would recommend watchingÂ Double Dare.
The year is 1992.Â Aladdin, The Bodyguard, Batman Returns, Wayne’s World,Â andÂ A Few Good MenÂ were released in theaters.Â Batman: The Animated Series, Goof Troop, Barney & Friends,Â andÂ Mad About YouÂ debuted on TV. The 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain would soon begin. The video game 16-bit war between the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis was growing stronger with games coming out fast from each system duking it out to see who would be on top. (Spoiler alert: the SNES wins!)
The SNES that year hadÂ Super Mario KartÂ while the Genesis hadÂ Sonic the Hedgehog 2.Â What do you do when you put video games into a game show? You getÂ Nick ArcadeÂ which debuted on January 4, 1992.
The show started off with two teams consisting a boy and a girl playing an arcade game to see who would start first on Round 1. This was known as the Face-Off. Next, the host named Phil Moore, would talk about controlling a little adventurous boy named Mikey on the main screen in any direction except diagonally. Remember folks, this is video games in the early 90’s. We could only move our characters in 8 directions. We didn’t have those fancy, schmancy gimmicks that we could move them in 360 degree directions. That wouldn’t happen for at least a few more years until the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation came out.
Depending on where Mikey was in the Video Zone, the questions would try to follow with that theme. If he was in space, then some of the questions would be about the solar system. If he was in medieval times, then some of the questions would be out medieval history. You get the idea.
For every question the team gets right, they would have a chance to move Mikey. If Mikey landed on a square that contained the four Ps: Puzzles, Prizes, Pop Quiz, or Video Puzzle, then they would get that. If they land on the main villain, they lose control of Mikey and the other team gets a chance to control him.
If it was the Video Challenge, then the team would play a video game for a chance to win more points.
This was always one of the best highlights of the entire show: seeing a video game in action.
The main highlight of the entire game show was when they went to the Video Zone to play a live action video game via virtual reality. In three levels, they have to complete each level grabbing three coins without getting injured. At the last level, they fight against the evil villain, grab three orbs, and prevent getting injured before time runs out. This is where you really see the gamer’s full potential: they either are good or they suck.
Every once in a while, the show would have guest contestants playingÂ Nick Arcade.Â They were the actors who were on the popular teen Nick shows at the time likeÂ Welcome Freshmen, Salute Your Shorts,Â andÂ Clarissa Explains it All.Â
There was even a regular teenager who enteredÂ Nick ArcadeÂ who would be a celebrity later on. That kid was known as Joey Fatone, one of the members of N’Sync.
The show was created by James Bethea and Karim Miteff, who revolutionizes live action and animation mixed with a blue screen to create their virtual reality games during the Video Zone segments. The virtuaul reality segments were designed by Bethea and Miteff and programmed by Curt Toumainian from Saddleback/Live Studios and Dean Friedman from InVideo Systems. You might remember that interactive blue screen game thatÂ Total PanicÂ featured calledÂ Eat-A-Bug.Â Well, they were the ones who also worked on that and many other interactive video games.
Sure in today’s standards, that’s not a big deal. A good number of internet critics can purchase their own green screen effects and do it themselves. Video games are more sharper and cleaner looking. We see this kind of stuff in movies all the time. But back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this was something that was never seen before. It was way ahead of its time. Here’s what Phil Moore had to say about it when he first saw it in an interview by Mathew Klickstein at splitsider.com.
â€œYou look at it now and itâ€™s like, â€˜Whatever,â€™â€ said Moore who has a technical background of his own. Right out of aeronautical school, he worked as a data center computer librarian before giving stand-up comedy a try at Floridaâ€™s Bonkerz Comedy Club, where he hung out with the likes of futureÂ SNLÂ star Darrell Hammond.
â€œBut when we were on the show,â€ Moore continued, â€œI was just kind of in the eye of the tornado and watched it happen around me. It was way over my head. Everything I had done in my field was about â€˜science present,â€™ whereas they [Bethea and Miteff] came up with something that was â€˜futureÂ science.â€™â€
â€œJames and Karim had created such an original, technologically-advanced show for its time, you couldnâ€™t argue with them about stuff because you didnâ€™t know it yourself. These guys just invented this, so how can you tell them theyâ€™re doing it wrong?â€
James Bethea also discussed about the technological aspects of the Video Zone in the same interview.
â€œYou know what was amazing was theÂ scaleÂ â€” the thing people didnâ€™t get to see. Our set was 10,000 sq. ft. 100Ã—100. And half of our sound stage was dedicated to blue screen sets, full-scale. That was the awesome part, really, to see it from that side and look at the scale of what we had built. That was amazing to go back and see this blue wonderland.Â ForÂ Iron Man 2, there was a massive set built for the Stark Expo. It was the largest blue screen ever used in a film. It was so funny being there and having Jon explaining that to me, realizing we had done the same thing years before.â€
â€œWhen he was doingÂ Iron ManÂ , Jon had told us that he went over to the set where James Cameron was doingÂ Avatar, and Karim and I were thinking, â€˜Wow, that sounds likeÂ Nick Arcade!â€™â€
â€œCertainly in a technical arena,â€ Bethea continued, â€œsome ideas hang around and reemerge in different contexts. Itâ€™s still amazing to think about, in a very literal sense, how far ahead of the time we were back then.â€
The host ofÂ Nick ArcadeÂ was Phil Moore. I have to say, out of all the Nickelodeon game show hosts, he is the goofiest of them all. He is really all over the place, making noise, cracking corny jokes, and dressing in some of the most ridiculous colored shirts. His style really screamed out early 90’s and it’s so hilarious to look at today. The show lasted for two seasons ending its run on March 12, 1993.
I had loved this show to death when I was a kid, but looking back at it now 20 years later, there are some huge major flaws. First is Phil Moore himself: As I said previously, he’s the corniest host that has ever graced Â Nickelodeon game shows…and he was pretty fun to look at. He isn’t incredibly annoying and crazy like Skip Lackey fromÂ Think Fast!Â However, he wasn’t extremely boring and dull like Michael Carrington fromÂ Think Fast!Â or Robert Edward Morris fromÂ Make The Grade.Â He just didn’t have the same wit, fun, and charm that Marc Summers fromÂ Double DareÂ had.
Summers had just one thing that no other Nickelodeon game show host back in the 80’s had: they had little to no experience with children and how they really are in real life. Marc Summers was a magician and helped with a local kids’ show in his home town before he went to be a comedian and game show host. That experience makes a huge difference when it comes to being interacting with kids in a way that’s not too over-the-top or boring. Phil Moore, at least, tried his very best to be fun with the kids, but it just looks a bit too goofy and pretentious in my book.Â Definitely not one of my favorite kids’ game show host.
I mean, this is the same guy who said Dr. Robotnik’s name wrong and called him Dr. Roboneck. If you’re hosting a game show about video games and you’re constantly referencing video games in the wrong way in front of millions of viewers who are video game junkies, that’sÂ inexcusable. I’m sorry.
Second are the prizes that they use to give away. Granted, back then the prizes were simple like bikes, video games, Walkman’s, etc. But out of all the Nickelodeon game show prizes,Â Nick ArcadeÂ was by far the worst. They would give stuff like basketball hoops, candy, VCRs, karaoke machines, and a trip to Universal Studios. You know, Universal Studios, the same place you’re actually at to compete inÂ Nick Arcade.Â That’s just lazy and stupid. At leastÂ Double DareÂ made you have a chance to win a trip to Space Camp.
Third are the questions. Now, yes, I’m well aware that this is a game show and you need to ask questions. But, I must ask, why didn’t they make the majority of the questions about video games? I mean, hello, this is a game show that focuses on video games. You play video games before the rounds begin, you play video games in the Video Challenge, you go into the Video Zone in which it’s an interactive video game. Why didn’t you stick with the theme and asked more questions about video games? I mean, come on, every other game show at the time already had the smart, easy questions. It would have been a great opportunity to split from that cliche and do something else.Â Double DareÂ did this.Â Make the GradeÂ did this.Â Think Fast!Â did this. Get the PictureÂ did this.
If Mikey is going into outer space, then ask questions aboutÂ MetroidÂ orÂ Star Fox.Â If Mikey is going to the jungle, ask questions aboutÂ Adventure Island.Â If Mikey is going to medieval times, ask questions aboutÂ Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior,Â orÂ The Legend of Zelda.Â The possibilities would have been endless. Same thing with the puzzles. Make a good amount of them about video games. Not all of them because that would shove too much of it down your throat, but enough to emphasize the theme that the game show is about video games.
Fourth and finally are the majority of the contestants. Some of them are so stupid and most likely have never played a video game before, especially the girls. Yes, at the time, most girls didn’t play video games. Shocking, I know. But you just look at them playing a game and screwing up so badly, you want to scream at the TV saying, “Oh come on, I can do better than that.” “Are you serious? You’re suppose to jump and grab the coins.” “Shoot the plane, don’t go near it. Shoot it!”
Also, there’s the Video Zone. This is truly the stuff of legends. This is where you truly see the bad gamers’ real skills and most of them are painful to watch. Real painful.
You might be thinking that I hate this show, but I don’t. I like this show. It has a really cool concept and a really good execution when it comes to the games and the blue screen virtual reality games. I mean, people still want that in video games today. Why do you think we have the Wii, the PlayStation Move, and the Kinect? Because we want to interact with our games. We want to be in the adventure. We want to be the hero. We wanted to get into the Video Zone.
But everything else wasn’t executed properly. It just shows more and more of the flaws ofÂ Nick ArcadeÂ as the years go on. It hasn’t aged well at all. The host was too corny, the prizes sucked, the questions and puzzles sucked, the contestants were mostly idiots, and they didn’t take advantage of the concept that they were trying to represent. I sort of recommend checkingÂ Nick ArcadeÂ if you’re a huge gamer or a fan of cheesy virtual reality. If this doesn’t seem like your thing, I would give it a pass.
However, if there’s anyone from Nickelodeon who’s reading this, I advise you: do a remake ofÂ Nick Arcade.Â Yes, I know, arcades aren’t popular anymore, but video games are. We’ve come such a long way from what Karim Miteff and James Bethea did 20 years ago, you can update it to the 21st century. Just fix the flaws from the original: get a new less goofier host, emphasize on the video game theme more, get better contestants, update the Video Zone, give out better prizes, and boom! You’ll make a lot of money and gain a new generation of viewers! Make it happen, Nickelodeon! If you can do the same withÂ remakingÂ Double Dare, Wild & Crazy Kids, GUTS,Â andÂ Figure it Out,Â then do it forÂ Nick Arcade.Â Just do it right this time, I know you can.
Do you want to seeÂ Nick ArcadeÂ rebooted? If so, what changes do you want to see? If not, what Nickelodeon game show do you want to see rebooted? Post it in the comments below. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.