I don’t discuss game shows often here at the Spotlight because this is a storytelling review site, and it’s rare that game shows tell a story. However, I thought this would be interesting for SNS. Does anybody remember the video game competition game show Starcade?
Created and developed by James Caruso and Mavis Arthur, Starcade was originally intended to be a gaming competition, like you see today. However, that pilot didn’t go over well and the show was retooled into the game show we all know today. The show featured two contestants using video game trivia and skills to win their own home arcade game. For whatever reason, Shout Factory’s YouTube channel has a special episode as their only sample, in which the usual options for the game playing round had been replaced with Dragon’s Lair.
Dragon’s Lair was the first of the laserdisk games. You play Dirk The Daring, off to rescue the Princess Daphne from the dragon who kidnapped her. Ahead of its time, the game didn’t use game sprites but cartoon animation produced by Don Bluth’s animation studio. By following the proper prompts you send Dirk through various challenges in the dragon’s castle before finally defeating the dragon and saving the princess. It led to a sequel, Timewarp, a few unofficial sequels using regular game sprites or computer animation, and a second laserdisk game, Space Ace. Both also became animated series, Dragon’s Lair showing up on ABC while Space Ace was one segment on CBS’s Saturday Supercade, neither of them done by Don Bluth’s studio. I’m mainly posting this to spark memories of the show but this isn’t a typical episode. Nice choice, Shout Factory!
Of course the originally aired there was no websites and G4TV didn’t exist so this comes from the later airing on that network in the early 2000s before it merged with Tech TV. The official website had the original airings from TBS and later syndication, where I saw it. The show was originally hosted by Mark Richards, with Geoff Edwards coming in from season 2 onward when they realized Richards really didn’t know about or care about video games. Edwards decided to learn about them, and ended up becoming an avid player. Edwards passed away in 2014.
If you want to see the typical episodes, the official website seems to no longer exists (and neither does G4TV). It’s too bad because the site was pretty good and some of the games were even emulated for play if memory serves. However, Shout Factor does have the show streaming free on their Shout Factory TV service, so at least that option exists. However, it seems they screwed up the season order, as they have the first host in season 3 rather than season 1. The official site had the original pilot and Shout Factory doesn’t. And they’ve released it on home video if you prefer to have your childhood memories within reach, but I don’t know if the unaired pilot is included.
As for the game of choice, I own all three laserdisc games in a port for the CD-I. They’ve also been released on DVD for play in the DVD player, and given the nature of the controls I’d wager it’s not a bad option for a change. There were also attempts to translate the game into traditional sprite-based video games to varying degrees of success. We had a Coleco Adam in our school and the game was there, but not very good. Don Bluth is also working on a crowd-funded animated movie adaptation that will flesh out the characters for the first time since the Ruby Spears cartoon and six issue comic book. I didn’t read the comic but I enjoyed the show and am very curious about the movie.