TBS December 27, 1982 - August 1983
Syndicated September 1983 - September 1984
Host: Mark Richards, Geoff Edwards
Announcer: Kevin McMahon
Two kids or teams of parents and kids played. Geoff asked a question with two choices, and the first to buzz-in answered. If they were right, they chose the first game from five selections. If they were wrong, the other player/team had that option. If the winner chose the day's "Mystery Game" they got a prize. Either way, a contestant would play the game for 50 seconds trying to get as many points as possible. Then the other player or pair would play.
Points are cumulative from the games. Another question is asked for control of the choice. After the second game, the team or player in the lead won a shot at "Name the Game." A piece of footage from a game was shown, and if they named the game correctly from two choices, they were closer to a bonus prize. 3 out of 4 correct was a bonus, all 4 was a better prize.
One more round of gaming was played with 40 seconds on the clock. The team or player with the highest score played for the grand prize. On TBS, another round of "Name the Game" was played here.
The average score of a group of players was read for the remaining two games. The winner(s) chose one to play and had 30 seconds to meet or beat the target the score. If they did so, they won the grand prize (an arcade game, a trip, a programmable robot, etc.)
Prior to this, Geoff was best known for stints on "Treasure Hunt," "Jackpot" and "Shoot for the Stars."
Mark Richards had no prior TV experience, but had competed on several game shows, including "Wheel of Fortune." Richards was reportedly removed from the program following a viewing by network owner Ted Turner who disliked his performance.
"Starcade" had a long road to becoming a series. The original pilot was hosted by U.S. Olympic hockey team captain Mike Eruizone. The format had 24 contestants wittled down to face Larry Wilcox (of "CHiPs") in a "brand new game." (Donkey Kong) This was thrown out in favor of the format explained here into a 2nd pilot for NBC hosted by Alex Trebek (!!). After that didn't work, JM productions did struck a deal with TBS and got their show aired with Mark Richards as host.
One of the features on the show was the "Starcade Hotline" which chronicled news in the video game world and about the show. Some hotlines revealed a 1,999,999 score in Centipede, and in another a group of kids who put on "Starcade" as a play for their school.
This is a fun way to spend a half-hour, especially if you like video games. Mark Richards was dry in the role of host. Geoff does his usual good job here though, and displayed an enthusiasm for the show you wouldn't expect. He developed a love for video games out of this show, and it's easy to see why. They had the cream of the crop in classic games. "Starcade" was even used as a springboard for debuting some new games to the market as well.
Cast - 1.5
Game - 1.0
Bells and Whistles - 2.0
Prize - 2.0
Tilt - 1.5
[ 08.0 ]
Points off for the format, which can lead to some anticlimatic games. If someone needs 10,000 points to take the lead, why not pick a game whose average score is 1,200? That aside, the set and music are great and the prizes are very respectable.