Series / Video Power
is an early 1990s show (produced by Saban Entertainment
and Bohbot Entertainment
) that attempted to take what kids supposedly liked about Captain N: The Game Master
while having segments talking about actual game tips and reviews to make it clear they knew what they were talking about
. It was hosted by the exuberant Johnny Arcade (played by Stivi Paskoski), and made up of various segments:
- The Power Team: The heart of the show was an action cartoon about the heroes of various games released by Acclaim battling evildoers in the real world. Led by an animated Johnny Arcade (voiced by someone other than Paskoski in these segments), who commanded the group from the safety of his bedroom, the group was made of Max Force from NARC, Tyrone from Arch Rivals, Kuros from Wizards and Warriors, Kwirk from Kwirk the Chilled Tomato, and Bigfoot the monster truck. Most of the time they fought Mr. Big, Spike Rush and Joe Rockhead, also from NARC, but occasionally other villains, like the Evil Sorcerer Malkil, appeared as well.
- Video Power Edge: Johnny would provide tips and secrets for recent console games.
- Coin Drop: News about arcade games and the like.
- Video Power Review: Johnny reviewed newly released or upcoming games. He tended to get extremely into character when doing so, such as acting like a valley-speaking surfboarder when doing Heavy Shredding, or an over-the-top Zen master when doing Conquest of the Crystal Palace. These personas tended to be more memorable than the actual content of Johnny's review, which were usually a very basic retelling of the game's features. Plus, one only has to watch a few to realize he never reviews a game he doesn't recommend.
For its second season, the show was completely overhauled into a Game Show
where contestants earned points and prizes by playing a game of the day well, or answering trivia questions about current video games (essentially Starcade
with late 80s/early 90s games); the format was tournament-based with "Friday Playoffs", and Johnny was now joined by co-host/announcer Terry Lee Torok and bandleader/keyboardist Steve Treccase (previously of Remote Control
). Here's how this version of the show worked:
- Round 1 (Johnny On The Spot): Terry Lee would go into the audience, searching for four pre-chosen kids to ask Johnny questions. All the questions were game related and Johnny would almost always have the correct answer. In the event that he didn't know (an excuse was always prepared for when that happened), the audience would yell out "stump, stump, stump" and the kid would receive a prize. The four audience members chosen served as that day's players.
- Round 2 (Power Play): The four players began by playing an elimination round, where they were given 2:02 to play a game (typically an NES game). The two players with the highest score, which varied per the game played, advanced to the next round.
- Round 3: The two remaining players at this stage of the game were given a "Power Vest" and a "Power Helmet" to wear (both of which were completely covered with Velcro). Johnny would then ask the contestants video game trivia questions, all of which were toss-ups. Answering a question correctly earned points, which were represented by various Velcro-backed items (pizza slices, mushrooms, etc.). If a player buzzed in and answered incorrectly, however, the other player would receive three multiple-choice answers to help them answer the question. If neither player rang in before time ran out, Johnny would reveal the multiple choice answers, but there was only one chance for the question to be answered. Three 10-point questions would be asked, with one being an audio question where the players had to identify a game based on a piece of music that was played from it. A 20-point question was also asked, and a fifth question earned the player a video game as a prize for answering it.
- Round 4: After the quiz portion, the two players faced off against each other in one more Power Play for 1:01. Whoever scored highest earned 50 points, and the player that was ahead at the end was declared the winner. If the score was tied, the person who had the highest score in Round 2 won; in either case, the winner then moved on to the bonus game.
The Video Power Edge
segments were retained from the old format, and new Hot Flash
segments were added to give info on news about consoles and arcade machines.
The first season (including The Power Team) provides examples of the following:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Max Force is no longer The Faceless, and Joe Rockhead is no longer a deformed zombielike freak.
- Adaptational Badass:
- Kwirk, who joined the others in taking on villains in spite of coming from a block-pushing puzzle title which had none.
- Malkil was also far more threatening-looking than his video game counterpart (where he was a stereotypical white-bearded wizard in a bright blue robe and pointy hat with stars all over them).
- Adaptational Wimp: Max Force, who instead of blowing people away with dual SMGs and rocket launchers relied on unconventional and mostly defensive gadgets. Also Tyrone, who doesn't punch his opponents even though that was the main draw of his game.
- Adapted Out: Max's partner Hit Man and the rest of Mister Big's gang were apparently never brought to the Real World. It's at least justified with Kinky Pinky, who would have been highly inappropriate for a kid's show.
- Berserk Button: Kwirk would flip out whenever someone pronounced it as "to-MAH-toe." To a slightly lesser extent, Tyrone's exasperation whenever Kuros starts talking about his home world.
- Big Electric Switch: Johnny would throw one on the wall of his room to turn on all the lights and monitors at the beginning of the episode.
- Blessed with Suck: As a video game villain, Malkil was seemingly bound by Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Every time he changed into one of his elemental forms the spell needed to counter it would spawn nearby.
- Canon Foreigner: Rowdy Roddy Radish and Patricia Parsnip were made up specifically for the show since there were no enemy characters in Kwirk's game. Ditto for Bigfoot's rival Burnt Rubber, despite the presence of fictional rival monster trucks in his NES game.
- Cool Car: Bigfoot. Also tricked out with a bunch of gadgets like laser guns, an extending front fender, and the ability to extend upward off his frame, which also functioned as a spring allowing him to launch into the air. Also, he can talk. Mr. Big and his gang had their tricked-out limo and in a couple episodes had the help of an Evil Counterpart to Bigfoot called Burnt Rubber.
- Covers Always Lie: A weird aversion of this, in that the characters looked mostly like they did on their respective games' packaging art, rather than what they looked like in their actual games. (Most notable with Kuros and Malkil, which used the box art's barbarian warrior and shadowy sorcerer designs rather than the game's armored knight and white-bearded wizard).
- Although a bit ironically the artwork of Kuros and Malkil seen in the manual for the third Wizards and Warriors game was taken directly from their artwork from this show!
- Double Vision: In the process of most reviews, Johnny would start arguing with a clone of himself over which feature of a game was better, usually graphics vs. audio. These guys really liked their Split Screen.
- Evil Is Petty: Probably thanks to censors more than anything, but the NARC baddies in this are out to make money by doing things like creating an embargo on tomatoes to hold up pizza parlors, taking over a water park or ski resort, or stealing a dinosaur egg.
- Fish out of Water: All the Power Team members to an extent, but Kuros in particular. In one episode Max Force seems to have no concept of the film industry despite coming from one of the games most akin to regular Earth; weirder still, the NARC villains do know about making movies.
- Full-Name Basis: Max Force is almost never simply called "Max".
- I'm a Humanitarian: Roddy Radish powers up by eating produce. He gets an okay amount eating regular vegetables, but specifically wanted to eat Kwirk to become superpowered. Who knows what he's like back home...
- In Medias Res: It is never explained how the Power Team or Mr. Big ended up in the real world, or how Mr. Big got a hold of weapons that could send them back to their game worlds. The closest the show ever got to an origin story was in the intro, which shows the five game heroes coming out from Johnny's TV screen.
- Large Ham: Johnny when doing the review segment, as he'd put on a different costume and persona in almost all of them. When reviewing Werewolf: The Last Warrior, he was morphing into a werewolf himself over the course of the review and would stop to snort and growl every few seconds.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Whenever Malkil would appear and transform into an elemental, some kind of cosmic law of fair play would cause a treasure chest containing the magic spell Kuros needed to beat him to appear somewhere nearby.
- Lighter and Softer: Obviously the characters from NARC are, with no mention whatsoever of the villains' drug empire, Max Force relying on a Batmanesque utility belt to fight crime instead of his heavy ordinance from the games, and Mr. Big being lacking his giant bionic head Final Boss form. Tyrone didn't even punch anyone, he attacked by throwing his basketball, even though that was the one thing making Arch-Rivals unique.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Between NARC, Wizards and Warriors, Kwirk the Chilled Tomato, Arch Rivals and the Bigfoot NES game.
- Never Trust a Trailer: In several episodes Johnny would give a brief rundown of the plot of the animated segment. The actual episode they showed tended not to be the one he'd just described, though.
- Off-Model: While the cartoon never reached Captain N levels of sloppy, it's obvious the episode "Turf Wars" was done by a less experienced team: Joe Rockhead's walk cycles are poorly looped, and Bigfoot's "Mouth" is animated strangely.
- Sentient Vehicle: Bigfoot, as is Burnt Rubber.
- Totally Radical: Boy, did the producers want kids to think Johnny Arcade was the coolest dude around. The borders shown in the intro sequence look almost like Trapper Keeper art.
The second season had the following game show tropes in use:
- Audience Participation: Round 1 (although it was more like Supermarket Sweep in that the players were already there).
- Bonus Round: The Power Mall- the player had 41 seconds to run through the titular Power Mall with various video games and other items stuck to its walls with Velcro. A player could grab whatever they wanted, which they then stuck to their Power Helmet or Power Vest, and exited the maze through a giant tube slide. Anything the player had stuck to them when the run was finished was theirs to keep.
- In turn, the top winners of the week came back for the "Friday Playoffs"; after that, every tenth week was a Tournament of Champions, where the previous nine Friday Finals winners competed: three champs each on Monday-Wednesday, with the winners moving on. Thursday was a "second chance" day, where the second-place finishers competed for the fourth slot on the Friday Finals; the winner on Friday received a Neo-Geo or trip, a trophy, and a $10,000 college scholarship.
- Bonus Space: Round 3's fifth question, which was worth a game for the player who correctly answered.
- In the Prize Round, there was a "secret game" hidden somewhere in the maze; the winner would be told its location and if the game was found the player won a bonus prize (such as a Neo Geo). Also, there were several sacks containing multiple games placed in the maze which a player was able to grab during their run.
The second season provides examples of the following:
- Catch Phrase: For Round 1, Terry Lee would always refer to it as "put[ting] the spot on Johnny by putting Johnny on the spot".
- Early Installment Weirdness: Some early shows had a time limit of 1:41 in round 2. Also early on, there was no fifth question (and hence no video game on offer) in the quiz portion; those were added shortly after the timer was upped.
- In-Name-Only: The only things carried over from the first season were Johnny, the logo and the Edge segments.
- Pilot: The intro shows a lot of clips of what presumably was the pilot, since Round 1 has a 1:00 timer. One of those clips has Terry doing commentary during Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, with the nameplates consisting of a white piece of paper just below the monitor.
- Obvious Rule Patch: A weird case- though a player technically didn't win the endgame if they didn't exit the maze before time expired, this rule was often disregarded and players would be allowed to exit with whatever was stuck to them- however, they could not grab any more prize items.
- Shout-Out: Johnny actually did reference Supermarket Sweep- in one ep, Johnny tells a player to smile, then says "Boy, what a contestant, jeez... Think we picked him out of Supermarket Sweep."
- Spiritual Successor: As stated, to Starcade (and unlike Nick Arcade, video game playing was still crucial to the show).