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Series / Video Power

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Feel the power!

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 (not voiced by Paskoski), 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 & 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.
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  • 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.

Think of it kind of as The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!note  meets Captain N: The Game Master note  meets GamePro TVnote 


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. In the earlier episodes, Johnny also read fan letters; this was excised over time.

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. One episode, "Back to the Game World", even shows the mazes from his game, but adds enemies that were never there.
    • 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.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Mr. Big definitely comes out on top in "The Bride of Mr. Big". Not only does he get away with the proceeds of his illegal auto sale, he manages to dump his Abhorrent Admirer on the Power Team and laughs as his henchmen drive him away.
  • 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 Eater: Joe Rockhead's turned into a comedic glutton in the cartoon parts.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerization: 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 lacking his giant bionic head Final Boss form. Tyrone didn't even punch anyone, he attacked by throwing his basketball or bouncing a villain like a basketball, even though that was the one thing making Arch-Rivals unique.
  • 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.
  • Casting Gag: In "Back to the Game World" Kwirk's girlfriend is being chased through the maze by a pair of evil vegetables. When Kwirk finally confronts them at the end, if you know what to listen for one of them is voiced by Michael Donovan, clearly doing his Eggplant Wizard voice.
  • Chroma Key: Occasionally, Johnny Arcade will talk to a clone of himself, which is achieved using this technique.
  • 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 Kuros is depicted as a loincloth-wearing barbarian similarly to how he was depicted on the packaging art for all the Wizards & Warriors games rather than the armored knight who actually appears in the games themselves
  • 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.
  • Dumb Muscle: Joe Rockhead in The Power Team segments. He's tough, but can barely follow simple instructions.
  • Everytown, America: Johnny Arcade lives in "Millburg," which could be pretty much anywhere and include anything the writers could base a plot around. Such plot-convenient things included an oil rig, a big canal, a big water park, and a mint. The kind that makes money.
  • 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.
  • Exposed to the Elements: In the episode "Ski Patrol", everyone else is wearing cold weather outfits except Kuros, who still has on his usual trunks-and-chest-harness outfit.
  • 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 the game closest to regular Earth. Weirder still, the villains from the same game do know about making movies.
  • Full-Name Basis: Max Force is almost never simply called "Max."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Rowdy Roddy Radish powers up by eating produce. Mind, he comes from a game world where everyone's a sentient vegetable. He gets an okay amount eating regular vegetables, but he specifically wanted to eat Kwirk to become superpowered.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Even more than in the actual games. When Malkil changed into an elemental, a treasure chest with the magic spell that could defeat him would always appear nearby. There was no attempt to explain this, or any question by the characters of why. That's just how it worked, and they just knew to accept it.
  • 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.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: The first season only; the second season had sung/rapped lyrics.
  • Invisible Parents: Johnny's parents get mentioned a couple times in the cartoon segments but never really show up. Convenient for how he's able to let a superhero team and their talking monster truck live in the family garage without being noticed.
  • I Will Wait for You: In one episode Kwirk gets to go home and have a tender moment with his girlfriend from the game, but of course he has to go back to reality until they catch Mr. Big. She says she'll be waiting when he gets back
  • Knight of Cerebus: Malkil, who unlike the other villains isn't played for comedy or toned down from the games, and is always presented as a serious threat. Honestly, the only reason the Power Team ever beats him is because of a law of gaming that makes the item they need to win spawn somewhere nearby whenever he attacks them.
  • Large Ham: Johnny when doing the review segment, as he'd put on a different costume and persona in almost all of them, and played every one of them to the cheesy hilt.
  • 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 to appear somewhere nearby, which would contain the magic spell Kuros needed to beat him.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Between NARC, Wizards & Warriors, Kwirk the Chilled Tomato, Arch Rivals and the Bigfoot NES game.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In most 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, evidently due to behind the scenes mix-ups.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: In "Back to the Game World" Tyrone tries to go one-on-one with Mr. Big and thinks he'll have it easy. Instead, Mr. Big shows he got to the top of his empire by being able to kick as much butt as an early 90s cartoon would allow. Kwirk coming back and suddenly slamming Mr. Big with a giant stone block is the only thing that saves Tyrone.
  • Not Quite Starring: Stivi Paskoski did not voice Johnny Arcade in The Power Team segments, instead voice acting duties for the character were given to Jason Michas.
  • 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.
    • The episode "Ski Patrol" is also animated very poorly, with choppy movements, constant coloring errors, and one of Kuros' lines being delivered by Spike near the very end while Kuros himself simply smiles.
  • Pac Man Fever: Up and down. On the one hand the tips the show gave for real games were accurate, if usually pretty basic. On the other its depiction of video games and the characters thereof in the cartoon portion could be just embarrassingly bad. The episode Video Virus is about 55% meaningless gibberish about "video games."
  • Psychic Link: In one episode Kwirk dreams that his girlfriend needs him to come back to their world and save her. He's right that it's more than a dream, because apparently "Tammy and I have always been able to communicate with each other". Okay, then.
  • Sentient Vehicle: Bigfoot, as is Burnt Rubber.
  • Status Quo Is God: Mr. Big has the game cartridges that will let the Power Team go home, or if he has his way, zap them back to the video world where they can't bother him anymore. He never succeeds in doing this, and the Power Team never succeed in getting the cartridges back so they can defeat Mr. Big and then go home on their own terms.
  • Title Drop: Whenever Johnny flipped the big switch to turn everything on at the start of the episode.
    Yes! Now that's Video Power!
  • Totally Radical: Boy, did the producers want kids to think Johnny Arcade was the coolest dude around, doing things like having him enter the set on a skateboard. The borders shown in the intro sequence look almost like Trapper Keeper art.
  • Utility Belt: Max Force had one of these instead of the heavy ordinance he did in the game.

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.
  • Personnel:

The second season provides examples of the following:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Johnny attempted one in the Robocop episode:
    Johnny: These four fresh-freckled faced fellows are facing the fight that will fill them with fear, and from which feh- few of them will, ah, pfft, feh. I can't keep up with this.
  • Catchphrase: For Round 1, Terry Lee would always refer to it as "put[ting] the spot on Johnny by putting Johnny on the spot".
    • After the recap of the previous episode at the start: "And now, more Video Power."
  • Cool Board: Appropriately, Johnny and Terry both used skateboards at various points in Skate or Die week.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: Even moreso than the first season. As James Rolfe put it:
    James: Looking back at the show, Johnny Arcade acted like a nutcase. He was always at a ten, like flailin' his arms around, doing voice impersonations, he couldn't even sit down without kicking his feet all over the place. Obviously, he was just trying to be an entertaining host, but he forgot to be a regular human being. There's no trace of normalcy, he's always on.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In the Skate or Die 2 and The Immortal episode, during the Johnny on the Spot segment:
    Johnny: You pick up lots of weapons on that worldwide Double Dragon trip. You get ahold of sais to cut your enemies down to size, army knives to protect your lives, and broken bottles of glass, to kick your foes right in... grass. Right in the grass.
    • In one of the Days of Thunder and Top Gun: The Second Mission episodes:
    Johnny: Yippie-ki-yay mother... Goose.
  • Motor Mouth: Terry could do this at times, especially when commentating the gameplay rounds.
  • Nepotism: Toni Paskoski, who is some unknown relation to host Stivi Paskoski (Johnny Arcade) is listed as a production assistant in season 2.
    • There are also quite a few Leveridges in the crew: Charles, Lori, Lisa, and Linda.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Precision F-Strike: The show was normally free of bad language, so it was jarring when one of the contestants audibly muttered "What the hell?" when he got a question wrong.
    • Contestant Scotty in the Thursday Wrestlemania episode said "I don't know who the hell he is." when asked about Roddy Piper.
  • PSA: Certain episodes ended with one of these, with Terry reminding viewers that while video games can be fun and have positive qualities, schoolwork should always come first. Also, stay away from drugs.
  • 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."
  • Special Guest: The Batman and Smash T.V. episode featured Roger Shiffman of Tiger Electronics handing out a giant scholarship check to the episode's winner.
  • Spiritual Successor: As stated, to Starcade (and unlike Nick Arcade, video game playing was still crucial to the show).

Alternative Title(s): The Power Team