- Banished from Earth, Classic Game Room broadcasts from the Intergalactic Space Arcade on its never-ending quest to review... EVERYTHING!
Classic Game Room is an online video game review show made by Mark Bussler which started in 1999, making it the first web game review show.
The first incarnation was known as The Game Room was a subscriber feature on the website "From US Alive". Presented by Mark Bussler and David Crosson, it was mostly a straight review show of then-current games and a few retro titles, with the occasional bit of silliness. Though it gained something of a cult fan base, it was a bit too ahead of its time (most internet connections were still on dial-up) and folded in 2000.
Fast forward to 2007: Mark Bussler uploads a few episodes on a little site known as YouTube to promote a DVD documentary about the show. The videos became much more popular than he expected, and in 2008, he decides to revive it as Classic Game Room HD with backing from the Inecom Company.
Classic Game Room is a standard review show without much in the way of bells and whistles, with most of the humor coming from Mark musing about the inherent Fridge Logic of the medium, or just letting loose about nothing in particular. Though the show is mostly about the games, it also has reviewed consoles, accessories, game packaging, and even more peripheral stuff (like food based on games). He has since spun-off CGR Garage which reviews die-cast toy cars.
The series is hosted on YouTube here, though due to controversial changes made to YouTube's content ID system in late 2013, CGR only released new episodes on the former official site, until a return to YouTube a few months later when some of the worst Content ID snags were worked out.
Due to declining revenues brought about by Content ID claims and changes to YouTube's revenue system, Mark announced in November 2015 that he would be closing the series regular run by the end of the year and continue it as a hobby. However, Mark reconsidered this after a large fan outcry and started a Patreon campaign in January 2016 to continue the show under the name Classic Game Room Mk3.
In 2018, Mark announced that Classic Game Room was moving exclusively to Amazon Prime under the name Classic Game Room 2085 beginning in March of the same year, with Patreon donors having access to the show if they don't have Amazon Prime subscriptions. Instead of just being another name change like Mk3, 2085 is stated to be a straight-up reboot with higher production values.
On April 24, 2019, Bussler announced on Instagram that he had decided to end all video production, and to continue the Classic Game Room brand as a book publishing company. It has distributed books on video games, video production and American history. Busser has also made the jump into music production and the creation of podcasts.
On June 26, 2023, Bussler returned to making video game reviews, rebranding the channel once again to just Classic Game Room and the start of a new rendition of the show titled Classic Game Room Year 24. A new rendition titled Year 25 was announced on November 2023 to commemorate the show's 25th anniversary, starting with a new season of 2085 with the first episode releasing on January 1st, 2024.
Classic Game Room provides examples of:
- Accentuate the Negative:
If someone wants to review or play games and that hobby makes them angry then they should do something else like work for the Red Cross or Humane Society. Helping others in need can make one happy and they’d perform some good deeds instead of filling the Internet with more useless, negative dribble.
- Notably averted for a video game review show; Mark likes almost everything he reviewed, and he gives less flak to So Okay, It's Average and bad (but not quite irredeemable) games. And even when faced with notorious turds such as Cyborg Justice or Heavy Nova, he's quite mellow. He can still rip on the occasional bad game without entering Caustic Critic territory.
- His answer to a fan interview indicates he has an active dislike of the phenomenon.
- Action Figure Speech: He opens his review of Pokémon Conquest by pretending to be a Shaymin plushie. He gets dizzy.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: In-universe (review):
- The plot of Cyber Speedway is about a young hotshot hired by the government to participate in a galactic racing contest which has replaced war. However, Mark has the Japanese version, so he assumes it's really about a drunk frat boy trying to pay accident fees.
- While reviewing Star Fox, he interpreted the game as being about talking animals eradicating all remnants of the human race.
- Ascended Fanboy: Mohammed from Qatar, who donated lots and lots of games and game systems to CGR and even became some kind of meme, has appeared on the show and gave an interview.
- El Caminos. Mark finally got his hands on one, and a damn good one at that.
- Author Appeal:
- Mark loves them flamethrowers.
- He's also a big fan of Atari (save for the Jaguar) and Sega.
- Shoot 'Em Ups tend to make common appearances in videos.
- The Kane & Lynch 2 review has him going off-topic and listing his favorite action films.
- Cosmic, freakin' Carnage on the 32X.
- Truxton was also the name for a late 80s Heavy Metal band.
- Awesomeness Is Volatile: Robocop Versus The Terminator is awesome enough, but the games using flamethrowers got him to do this.
- Ax-Crazy: Lord Karnage, a recurring character he made up for the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 review. He had to register his hairs as a lethal weapon, the organizers gave him an award just so he wouldn't kill everybody and if he doesn't get complimented regularly, someone dies. In the Madden NFL 11 review, he takes over a newly formed island, grows his own genetically modified football players, and names them all after Japanese Shoot Em Ups.
- Bad Future: Claims that in the future, we will be too busy fighting robots to watch these videos.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment:
- Berserk Button: Specifically applying to CGR Garage, extremely low-quality die-cast cars and similar knockoffs will set this off for Mark.
- Blatant Lies: "Welcome to Classic Game Room for the review of Battletoads on the NES, one of the easiest games you'll ever play. I beat this the first time I played it."
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: Done in this review of Art of Fighting 3, when Mark lost his train of thought.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Exaggerated during the original run's review of Robotron 64.
- Cool Ship:: The Intergalactic Space Arcade.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the Golden Axe Beast Rider review, Mark mentions that he enjoys "burning people with monsters and cutting them in half". And he mentions it again...and again...and again. It spills over to his other reviews that it becomes something of a Running Gag.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Episodes from 2008-2009 had a much calmer feeling than more modern episodes, with less humor. Compare the Wii review to the Wii U review five years later for an example.
- Gag Sub: The Jupiter Strike review has him inserting silly subtitles during the intro cutscene.
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Subverted in his review of Astral Bout where he claims watching Bloodsport several dozen times has made him an expert...in quoting Bloodsport.
- It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: Said in reviewing Battle Monsters:"It's not going to win any awards, except a special place in your heart."
- Manchild: Mark is one. He points that out when he mentions Big in one of his recent toy reviews.
- He reviewed a Star Wars AT-AT toy by playing it in his backyard.
- Mascot Racer: Not only have several games been reviewed, but the genre gets discussed in several of them. The review of LEGO Racers provides the page quote.
- Memetic Badass:
- Invoked with Lord Karnage.
- Mohammed from Qatar.
- Mid-Review Sketch Show: Fairly rare and usually kept to separate videos rather than inserted in the reviews.
- Mind Screw: The Space Gar "reviews".
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- His reaction to the plot of Space Dungeon.
- Pretending an interstate drive was a photo-realistic game.
- In his Double Dragon Neo Geo CD review, he says that you have to respect anybody who shows up in a fight with a Buick Roadmaster... with a JET ENGINE on top.
- When Mark reviews Bird Week, he opens the review with an overly dramatic explanation of the game set to heavy metal music before the game's actual audio is restored.
- Buying a Sega Saturn.
- Mark can review anything, including a sticker, and still make it interesting.
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: The Coked-Up Chicken.
- Mascot: The red-eyed squirrel, and the smiley face holding a beer.
- Also, Stella, his pet dog.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Some of his conference antics. Examples includes putting a Vectrex overlay on the camera, asking the E3 Valkyria Chronicles II booth if the game is going to receive a Game Gear port, and faking amazement at the "naturally formed fan" of the Cabela's Dangerous Hunt 2011 truck.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Ebayzably".
- Planet of Steves: In the story Mark invents for the Dragon pinball table, the hero is named Stewart, the damsel is name Stewart and the dragon's heads are name Stewart, Stewart, Stewart, Stewart and Crazy Willy.
- Reference Overdosed: A Classic Game Room review will have a probably reference various movies, '80s rock bands, 80s cartoons, old muscle cars, beer, Vectrex, and Cosmic Carnage.
- Running Gag:
- Wind Squid.
- Cosmic Carnage.
- Saying that a game needs a flamethrower or a Vectrex port.
- A couple of people found Mohammed from Qatar to be a running gag for when Mark gets a new system or game. This was evidently jossed.
- Hitting Derek in the head with something, usually a Game.com.
- Rule of Cool: Mark thrives on this. Any game with Ninja, spaceships, or cars, flamethrowers and explosions will be awesome.
- Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Half of the Ridge Racer 7 review is dedicated to the Xevious minigame and how much better it is than the actual racing portion.Allow me to make my own commentary: THIS GAME SUCKS, let's go play Xevious!
- So Bad, It's Good: In-universe: Mark likes games so cheesy even if a game is bad or not so good.
- There are many of us that enjoy video games that aren't very good, but have something likable and cheesy about them that makes them so much damn fun.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Done every time profanity is used.
- Bizarrely, Mark refers to most of the other players as 'dickheads' in his review of the multiplayer in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, but bleeps out the 'heads' part, not the obscenity itself
- His Saints Row: The Third review doesn't bleep out any swearing from the gameplay.
- Undertow uses Super Mario Bros sounds as a censor.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: In the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City review, Mark spends the first half of the video exploiting the very worst of the game's Video Game Cruelty Potential while a cheery '80s pop tune from the game's soundtrack plays.
- The intro to the Dead Space 2 review features circus music as the main character is mauled by aliens.
- Spin-Off: CGR Undertow, in which other Inecom staff review more PlayStation and Nintendo titles.
- Stylistic Suck: The Wind Squid videos.
- Suckiness Is Painful: Just mentioning the name of the film Johnny Mnemonic hurts Mark's ears.
- Suddenly Ethnicity: Parodied in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 The Masters review, where Lord Karnage is said to be able to "change his skin color depending on which ladies he's hitting on at the time".
- Take That!: Whenever Star Wars is discussed (and often when it isn't), Mark is vocal about his hatred of Jar-Jar Binks.
- Take a Third Option: Which is better? The Wii controller, or the PlayStation Move controller? The answer is the Sega Genesis controller.
- This Is Wrong on So Many Levels!: His review of Virtua Fighter Kids.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Beer.
- Unfortunate Implications: Parodied occasionally, like when he noted the Sega Dreamcast Sports Edition was black, and claimed it was just reinforcing stereotypes.
- Useful Book: Apparently, bad PlayStation games make good drink coasters. But not Dreamcast games, because they don't have the post-modern black finish.
- Verbal Tic: Mark tends to pause and put emphasis on some words, sometimes to the point of giving an almost Shatner-esque delivery.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Demonstrated in their Seaman review, in which they try to kill Seaman after getting fed up with the bad voice recognition and then reset the clock just to do it slowly. They succeed.
- Who Writes This Crap?!: The Coked-Up Chicken in his "screen test".
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Taken to ridiculous extremes with Heyzoos the Coked-Up Chicken who spells 'Sega' "T! R! U! X! T! O! N!"
- You Bastard!: In the L.A Machineguns review:We're all special. And we're all different. Except you!
When I laugh people live. Except you! Yeah... you! You got it coming!
- Heyzoos does it too: