WTF?!?! – Nick Arcade

Will Blanton

I was inspired to review this show after hearing about the abomination of the pilot of “Nick Arcade.” Even though you it was blocked by Viacom, you can search YouTube for “From Pilot to Final Product: Nick Arcade” that features Nickelodeon historian Bilaal Smith, to get an exclusive look on one of the 4 pilot episodes.

Nick Arcade ran from January 4th to November 6th 1992 for 24 Episodes over 2 seasons, was taped at Nickelodeon Studios inside the Universal Studio grounds and was the 4th game show to be featured inside the studio. (Family Double Dare, Get the Picture, and Nickelodeon Guts being the others.) The basic objective of the show is to move a character named Mikey to the end goal of a board game while each spot triggers one of 5 different scenes. Points, Puzzles, Pop Quizzes, and Prizes were all the good spots, while landing on the enemy square not only pops up the levels main antagonist, but you end up losing control for your team. Mikey, and all of the enemies were done by artist Rafael Kayanan who went on to work on comic book series such as “The Amazing Spider Man”, “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe”, and “Ice Age on the World Of Magic: The Gathering”

The toss-up games would be the equivalent of “Nintendo Shovelware” looking as basic as one can get. They were all developed by a company called Bethea/Miteff Productions in conjunction with Saddleback/Live Studios and Psygnosis. Psygnosis should be very familiar to most gamers as they released their most popular franchise, “Lemmings” on 29 different consoles in 1991 alone. They would create 8 different toss up games that would run off of Amiga computers. To my knowledge and all of the info I could dig up, it is unknown if these games were actually released to the public.

The Video Challenge was very unique as they would have representation from all of the consoles at the time. Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super NES, TurboGrafix-16 and Neo-Geo with a little bit of an edge going to Genesis, when it was revealed that during season 2 an Alpha build of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 was used during “Video Challenge” segments. Once you played a game in an episode, you can’t go back to them. It’s kind of a good thing as most of the children sucked playing them. I’m serious when I say that there was a kid who couldn’t get 30 rings in Green Hill Zone Act 1. Looking back I was facepalming so damn hard.


So the end all be all is the “Video Zone” where kids go into a gaming world only to get their ass kicked both physically and mentally by a fucking video game/cartoon. In my research I came across a video entitled “History and Making of Nick Arcade” where they showed a clip of the “Video Zone” backstage during filming, and this could have been the reason why most of the shows I’ve seen, had the kids fail. The sets they would use for these challenges would have 1 monitor for the kids to look at. If they would have a platform to climb onto, there would be a chance that they would be unable to see it due to being at a particular height above the screen forcing them to look down consistently. (See clips from the “Wizard” levels to see what I mean.)

It was ended abruptly with no official episode being called the “Series Finale” as it was filmed but never aired, and it kinda bums me out a little bit. Having something filmed but ever aired is technically wasting everyone’s time and I don’t think that for 83 episodes no one felt that it was, until one of them didn’t air.

Do I want a reboot? Of course, but it would have to be done with upgraded graphics in the end game…..or does it have to be? I feel like if they could just completely redo what made it famous in the long run, that it would be awesome as a reboot. Will we ever get it? I am not 100% sure we will.

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