Retronauts Channel Surfs Into Nick Arcade

Retronauts Channel Surfs Into Nick Arcade

This week, USgamer's classic gaming podcast enters the VIDEO ZONE for an exploration of the Nickelodeon game show devoted to 8 and 16-bit entertainment.

This week's episode of Retronauts could run the risk of being an "Only '90s Kids Will Remember This!" sort of thing—but it's not like that ever stopped us before.

Still, even if you came of age well before the early '90s, you can at least appreciate what the cable network Nickelodeon did for pop culture when it started generating original programming. In this era, kids were treated to shows featuring unlikely perspectives, cartoons driven by their own creators, and an honest attempt to embrace what was considered "youth culture" at the time. Given Nickelodeon's mission statement, a show about video games just had to happen, so in 1992, it did. And this is how Nick Arcade came to be.

If you've never seen Nick Arcade, it follows the formula of the massive popular Double Dare—which you probably have seen—in that it's largely a trivia contest interrupted by "physical challenges"—except these challenges aren't so physical. Instead of tasking its contestants with throwing water balloons at their dads, or pulling flags out of a giant nose, Nick Arcade removed the "physical" aspect almost entirely by making its challenges fit for the sedentary lifestyles of modern children. For a few brief moments during each episode, guests headed over to a makeshift arcade to play what were presumed to be the hottest games—even if many of them weren't. And contestants would eventually have to get physical in the last round, a green-screen nightmare that mostly involved blindly groping through sets that weren't really there.

Even if Nick Arcade hasn't aged especially well, it's still fun to revisit, if only to see the state of gaming culture at the time. And, of course, there's the whole nostalgia aspect, which is absolutely present in the specific episode we watched for this show—which features the cast of Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains it All. Do yourself a favor and watch it online before listening to this new Retronauts. You'll be glad you did. (Or very sad about what was considered entertainment in 1992.)

Joining us on this one are the core members of the Laser Time Podcast Network—Chris Antista, Henry Gilbert, and Dave Rudden—who generously loaned me the use of their bedroom studio for the sake of recording this episode. And our cover art comes courtesy of Nick Daniel. As always, you can keep up with the latest Retronauts news via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and check out some of our video content over on our YouTube page. And, in case you forgot, Retronauts is fully funded by our Patreon campaign, so if you can afford to donate even a dollar a month, please consider it! Every little bit really helps our cause.

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