Sunday, January 21, 2007

Reliving Starcade

• My inner video game geek wants to play.

About my 12th birthday party took place at the local arcade, with me and my buddies feeding tokens into Galaga, Gyruss, Ms. Pac Man and other addictive quarter-guzzlers. I actually didn't spend as much time in the arcade as one might thing, although I've made up for lost time by purchasing just about every retro game compilation for the PS2 that I can get my hands on. For a boy growing up in the '80s, what was more exciting than video games? (On second thought, don't answer that.) I remember a time when I'd get up ridiculously early — something like 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning — to catch Starcade, the arcade game show in which two contestants went head to head on several machines for a chance to win their very own arcade game. Running from 1982-84, first on WTBS and then in syndication, the game featured all the old favorites and some obscurities — Pooyan or Holey Moley, anyone? The official Starcade website brings it all back, offering 10 episodes for streaming online. I'd forgotten how genial host Geoff Edwards (Jackpot, Treasure Hunt) would offer tips to the contestants, such as "stay to the left" on Congo Bongo and "go for the fruit" on Donkey Kong Jr. You're sure to spy some fun games you'd forgotten, such as Pengo, Gorf or the great Elevator Action. The awesome theme music reminds me of "Blinded by the Light" by way of the Wheel of Fortune theme circa 1979. Even more awesome, behold some of the geeky prizes, such as electronic chess, metal detectors and primitive home computers. The website also offers clips (check out Alex Trebek hosting one of the several pilots), contestant bios and updates, desktop wallpapers and the opportunity to buy episodes on DVD. There's also an exhaustive section covering every game played on the show, with promotional flyers and video clips of each game's intro as it appeared on Starcade. In a word, it's nirvana for '80s geeks.

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