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For this week’s spotlight, we’re doing something a bit different. We want to talk about a show that brought competitive gaming to a television audience for the first time.
Starcade was a game show that pitted contestants against each other via arcade games. It first aired back in 1982, during what is widely considered a golden age for arcade games. It went on to inspire shows like Video Power and G4 TV’s Arena. The original pilot of Starcade was hosted by Mike Eruzione, a gold-medalist hockey player.
After rating surprisingly well during select airings, NBC took interest and had another pilot shot with Alex Trebek — this was when the show’s most familiar rendition came to being. Eventually, Ted Turner would pick the show up and employ Mark Richards to host its first 23 episodes. At long last, Geoff Edwards took over hosting duties from that point until Starcade was cancelled in 1983.
The show’s concept was straightforward enough. It was a competition between either two individuals or two teams, both of varying ages. Three rounds were played, each of which started with a question. The player to answer the question correctly first was granted their choice of an arcade game. They’d play this game for a total of 40, 50, or 60 seconds (depending on the round). Their opponent would then play the same game and, at the end of the round, each player’s score would be added to their total.
One interesting wrinkle was a Name The Game question that was asked to the player with the most points at the end of the second round. A selection of four short clips was shown to the player and they had to figure out which game they were looking at.
A bonus round was also played, allowing a contestant to win the day’s grand prize. After selecting a game that hadn’t already been played in the episode, the contestant had to beat the high scores of 20 other players.
For those who missed out on the original run, Starcade was picked up for repeat episodes by G4 TV between 2002-2004. For everyone else reading this, you can check out the show’s archive at the official Starcade website: http://www.starcade.tv/starcade/games/shows.html
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Nope. It's a US show with little relevance to a European audience as far as nostalgia for it goes, but I've watched the odd episode having heard about it on Shane R. Monroe's RetroGaming Radio. It does push the nostalgia buttons as far as seeing the archaic presentation and its always fun to see arcade games on TV. Think of it like a sort of early US Gamesmaster, but more in a panel show format.
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