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Series / Nick Arcade

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Nick Arcade is a Game Show that was produced for Nickelodeon in 1992. It was hosted by Phil Moore. The main part of the show consisted of a game board divided into 18 squares. Two pairs of contestants controlled a kid named Mikey, leading him to the goal to get points and avoid the enemy.

The most notable part was the "Video Challenge" squares, where one of the teammates got up to a wall of "arcade machines" (which usually had NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, and Neo Geo games) and participated in a timed challenge on that game. Viewers could be treated to kids failing hard at collecting rings in Sonic the Hedgehog, or the poor sap who chose Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts.

This show is notable for not only being one of Nick's many game shows that they created during the late 1980s and early 1990s, but having Joey Fatone as a contestant.

On October 26, 2014, a copy of the original pilot for the show, courtesy of series co-creator Karim Miteff, resurfaced.

This show contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The Smooch Aliens of the space stages, a pair of aliens that cover Mikey with smooches whenever he lands on an enemy space.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The set was fabulous and high-tech with the red and yellow contestant podiums contrasting the darker atmosphere of the Video Challenge area. The updates that took place in the second season brought out an even cooler arcade environment. The Video Zone also used state-of-the-art bluescreen animations.
  • The Announcer: The pilot episode was initially announced by Fran Gauchi, with Andrea Lively taking over for the main series.
  • Big Bad: The Game Wizards. Merlock, Scorcha, and Mongo. The winning team takes one of the three on in the Video Zone for the grand prize.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Creepyville as well as the Haunted Museum in the Video Zone.
  • Bonus Round: The winning team could enter the Video Zone, which essentially put them into a video game. There were three levels, the first two had random themes, while the third was one of three "bosses". Each teammate took a level, while both tackled the third. In each level, the team had to collect three items while avoiding pitfalls that would take one unit off their power meter; losing all five units causes the level to end and the player(s) would have to "reset". There was also a hidden powerup which might restore full power, freeze the action briefly, destroy all the enemies, or allow access to certain pathways. Collecting three items moved each teammate to the third level, completing that won the grand prize. The team also won a prize for each level completed, and each item collected won them $50. The team had a total of 60 seconds to get through all three levels; if they ran out of time, Game Over. This was much harder than it sounds.
  • Bonus Space: "Prize" on the game boards, and technically the Video Challenges.
  • Celebrity Edition: On three occasions in Season 2, cast members from then-running Nickelodeon sitcoms would compete against each other. One episode had cast members from Salute Your Shorts competing against each other, another episode had cast members from Welcome Freshmen, and a third celebrity episode, which was the final taped episode, featured cast members from Clarissa Explains It All.
  • Chroma Key: The Video Zone was made possible as part of a soundstage separate from the main set with ladders, platforms, and steps all painted in one color to overlay the platform elements of the game screen.
  • Color Failure: Mikey suffers from this on the Creepyville board, going white from the top of his head to his shoes before bolting when he sees the ghost.
  • Couch Gag: Season 2 introductions feature an animation of Mikey's enemy for that episode played over a montage of game board spaces.
  • Crossover: Moore cohosted the "Nickelodeon All-Star Challenge" that aired during The Big Help in 1994; crossing over with Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple and What Would You Do?
  • Double the Dollars: The second round with Mikey, like in several other game shows, doubles the point values.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Early tapings had the Pop Quiz consist of a choice between several categories that were related to where Mikey was currently at. This was later changed to just going straight to a question related to the board Mikey was currently in, and the choice between categories was now exclusively for the Goal.
  • Eye Beams: In the Bonus Round, one of the enemies featured in the "Monsters on the Loose" level is a flying eyeball capable of firing lasers.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Any time a contestant tried to move Mikey to a direction he couldn't go. Phil was also slow to realize this at times.
  • Fake Difficulty: The Video Zone is made considerably harder because the players can't see the obstacles they're facing directly, and only see an empty, monocolor stage. They have to look over at a monitor to see what obstacles are being projected onto them digitally. If you've never tried to perform coordinated actions by watching yourself on a live monitor, give it a shot with a webcam to see just how hard it is.
  • Forced Transformation: Two enemies do this to Mikey. Djinni turns him into a chicken and the hammerhead shark flattens him into a coin.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the contestants mentions that he's a Sonic the Hedgehog fan in his introduction. Cue that game showing up for the Video Challenge (and, yes, he challenges it and wins).
  • Game Show Host: Phil Moore, who later hosted Nick's You're On! (1999) and appeared as a semi-regular panelist on Figure It Out; Niels Schuurmans in the pilot.
  • Golden Snitch: The Video Challenges could have been, but most teams only ever bet 5 or 10 points.[[note]]A question was worth 25, or 50 in round 2.
  • Grand Finale: The last taped episode was a Clarissa Explains It All celebrity special, featuring Elizabeth Hess, Joe O'Connor, Melissa Joan Hart and Jason Zimbler.
  • Haunted House: The Creepyville board.
  • Inflating Body Gag: The Witch Doctor blows into a voodoo doll of Mikey, inflating the real Mikey and sending him flying as he loses air.
  • Inside a Computer System: The Video Zone.
  • Level Ate: Food Frenzy from the Video Zone.
  • Losing Horns: The time buzzer in the Bonus Round was a series of short descending notes resembling an Evil Laugh. As the background goes red and the word Game Over flashes.
  • Magic Carpet: Used in one of the Video Zone levels.
  • Mayincatec: Ancient Tomb from the Video Zone.
  • Minecart Madness: Runaway Rail Car from the Video Zone.
  • Nightmare Face: The floating blob creatures in some Video Zone rooms are harmless looking and almost cute until they suddenly open their mouths and charge, transforming into terrifying monsters with mouths full of Scary Teeth.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Video Zone. So many Game Overs, so many crushed dreams of children wanting to go to space camp.
  • Obvious Beta:
    • One of the games, played twice during the run, was invoked a very early version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 which used Sonic 1's Star Light Zone theme for Emerald Hill. The ROM was eventually dumped onto the Internet on November 7, 2006. Not so obvious during the show's original run, its appearances caught the attention of the Sonic fanbase while repeats were still airing on Nick GAS.
    • The unaired pilot also had footage from a beta version of Sonic 1, while the actual show used the final American version of the game. This ROM was found and dumped on December 31, 2020.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: In an effort to prevent Time Bomb events, later tapings would have Phil dissuading players from backtracking. If moving Mikey onto a Time Bomb space was unavoidable, the time's up signal would sound.
  • Opening Narration:
    • Pilot: "Hey you guys, pause those VCRs and put down those joysticks. It's time for Nick Arcade, the show that tests your video savvy and your video game skills. Today, one lucky team will actually get to go inside a video game, for a chance to win this fabulous bonus prize: A trip to Universal Studios Florida! And now, here's the host of Nick Arcade, the best-dressed Tetris player in the free world, Niels Schuurmans!"
    • Season 1: "Behind this door is the Video Zone, a place between our world and the video dimension. Waiting to challenge you for control of the Video Zone is one of the Game Wizards. Is it... Merlock, Scorcha, or Mongo?" *Camera pan over contestants* "These two teams will compete for the right to enter the Video Zone and face the Game Wizard's challenge. Who will it be? Find out today on... Nick Arcade! And now, here's your host, (insert preparatory phrase), Phil Moore!"
    • Season 2: "Get ready for the ultimate Video Challenge, as these two teams go head-to-head with a maze of electronic obstacles for the right to face one of our Game Wizards in the Video Zone! (insert preparatory phrase here, like "Strap yourselves in!") Here comes... Nick Arcade! And now, here's your host, (insert preparatory phrase), Phil Moore!"
  • Pain-Powered Leap: Mikey does this when a dragon breathes fire at him from behind.
  • Pie in the Face: In the neighborhood stages, the resident bully Game Over the bully enemy in the neighborhood stages:
    Game Over: *holds out a hand* Hold it right there bean brain! *produces pie from behind himself and splats the camera with it*
  • Pilot: The original pilot for the show was taped in the Spring of 1991 on the Get the Picture set. Niels Schuurmans was the host, and it recycled the theme from a short-lived Nick program called Outta Here!.
  • Press X to Die: Teams are allowed to move Mikey in any direction, including spaces that had already been played. Any team who does this must play a Time Bomb challenge to maintain control of Mikey. Both players alternate spelling a word one letter at a time, and no points are awarded regardless of the result.
  • Product Placement: You really think Nick went down to the Blockbuster off Vineland to get games? Nope, the developers paid good money to put their games in the Video Zone.
    • Psygnosis, later to be acquired as Sony's European gaming studio, programmed the show's toss-up video games (Post Haste and the various Pong clones) which determined control of Mikey.
    • Bets for points in the Video Zone were scribbled down on a poorly-disguised Magna Doodle.
  • Punny Name: Possibly in Phil Moore's case; while that is his real name, one of the games featured surprisingly often on the show was Actraiser and the level was usually, you guessed it, Fillmore. The lead-in announcer also did introduce Phil with a pronunciation that sure sounded a decent bit like "Fillmore". It may just be happy coincidence, however.
  • Rogues Gallery: The Game Wizards were one for the human players. The "enemy" squares created various recurring characters like bullies, sharks, ghosts and dragons that would torment Mikey.
  • Rump Roast: A massive fire breathing dragon in the medieval levels somehow manages to sneak up behind Mikey and deliver one of these with his Breath Weapon.
  • Scare Chord: Three descending orchestra hits are used if Mikey lands on an Enemy square.
  • Shared Life-Meter: The final level of the Bonus Round had both teammates taking on the Game Wizard together. The power meter would drain if either player got hit by a baddie.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The Forgotten Desert board.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Snow Slingers from the Video Zone.
  • Studio Audience: Seen during the opening, and in wide-set shots.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: The "enemy" squares inflicted various fates on Mikey, including flattening him into a coin or scaring him to death.
  • Time Bomb: One of the challenges on the game board. It only comes up if a team moves Mikey onto a space that had already been in play. To keep control of Mikey, both players have ten seconds to spell a word, alternating one letter at a time. No points are at stake in the event of a Time Bomb.
  • Time Travel: The Time Portal board.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The Game Wizards. Merlock and Mongo are male, and Scorcha is female.
  • Undesirable Prize: The grand prize was often a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando where the show was taped. Basically, this meant that if you weren't impressed with the park the first time, you "won" the opportunity to see the same things all over again. On the other hand, if you enjoyed the park, you got a return trip on Nick's dime.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: The Post Haste toss-up.
  • Whammy: The "enemy" square on the game board would automatically give control to the other team.
  • The Wild West: The Slurpy Gulch board takes place in the Wild West.
  • A Winner Is You: Beat the game wizard, and the message "You did it! You beat the game" flashes on the screen.
  • Womb Level: Two of the face-off games:
    • Laser Surgeon, a target game inside of a bloodstream.
    • Brainstorm, a Pong game in a brain.