Sunday, October 24, 2021

They Have the Power

Got such a quick start this morning, I barely had enough time to eat and call Uber. They were there in five minutes and got me to the Acme just in time for work.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday. Might have been a tad busier during rush hours; otherwise, it was on-and-off steady. Once again, I shelved candy between customers. Left slightly late, thanks to getting a WIC check, then a slow and large order. At least the Uber driver took less than 15 minutes to arrive, not bad during an Eagles game. 

I originally planned on watching the Eagles-Raiders game and doing writing when I got in. I put on Fox and started writing, but even though it was 7-7 at that point, I kept drifting off. After 20 minutes, I gave up, switched it off, and took a nap instead. Woke up about a hour and a half later, still fairly tired. (And I discovered the Eagles lost to the Raiders 33-22.)

Did feel up to dinner. Made leftover burgers and zucchini and tomatoes while listening to the original cast album for The Phantom of the Opera. The beloved extravaganza telling of the "ghost" who hides under the Paris Opera and tries to push his protégé into the limelight is the last 80's "pop opera" still standing in its original production on Broadway. No one has equaled Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford's legendary performances as Christine and the damaged "ghost" who tries to control her, and their both captured in this lengthy but lovely recording. I've always been especially fond of the ballads "All I Ask Of You" and "The Music of the Night" myself.

Finished off the night on YouTube after a shower. Video games rose to prominence in the late 70's as computers just started to be offered for the home market. It wasn't until 1981 that the first game show based around video games, Starcade, debuted. This syndicated showcase of then-popular games like Galaxian and Journey had teens answering trivia questions for the chance to play the game of their choice and rack up points. The kid who got the most points in the end would go on to play the last game and win the grand prize. Geoff Edwards was the enthusiastic host. 

The Video Game Crash of 1983 killed Starcade, and it's attempted replacement, The Video Game, didn't last a year. Video games wouldn't turn up on TV again until Nintendo rose to prominence in the late 80's-early 90's. Video Power began as a cartoon/video game review show, but was retooled in its second season to be a game show similar to Starcade. The kids in the audience try to stump the much younger "Johnny Arcade" (Stivi Paskoski), then play two current video games (in this case Skate Or Die II and Ninja Gaiden III). 

Alas, this one wasn't nearly as fun as Starcade. Everything from Pasokoski's too-cool-for-you attitude to the weird industrial sets screamed "trying too hard to be hip." The bonus round, with the kid going on a shopping spree to grab games and gear, had more in common with Fun House than video games. 

Arena made a lot more sense. This hit for gamer channel G4 in the early 2000's pit two teams against each other playing certain games in a tournament format. As someone who spent a lot of the early-mid 90's watching her sister play Final Fantasy games, I can confirm that watching people play games can be almost as much fun as playing them yourself - and the guys really get into it, too.

Nickelodeon Arcade proved to be a far more worthy successor to Starcade. Here, the kids play original games created for the show, including leading a character named Mikey to squares that'll earn them points or prizes. If they land on a square saying Video Challenge, they get to play one of those original video games. One kid plays; the other bets on how well their partner does. The winners get to run through three stunt challenges based after those original games. Phil Morris has a great time hosting, despite a lot of bobbles with the questions. 

Kind of complicated, but fun to watch, and the kids looked like they had a great time. (If you enjoy this, there's more currently available on Paramount Plus.)

My favorite find tonight was the one-off special Battle of the Video Games from 1983. This Southern California show pits four teams of older teen and adult celebrities (the only show tonight to feature adults doing anything besides hosting) playing four popular games of the time - Ms. Pac Man, Burger Time, Frogger, and Pac Man - for charity. In between rounds, we get interviews with the celebrities in question, and even get to see the Bally's Arcade factory then. If you're a fan of early video games or game shows from this era, it's funny and fascinating. 

Catch Pac Man Fever with these dives in to game show and video game history!

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