A lot of my young life revolved around television. Yes. I did go out and play but my younger siblings were too young to play with for a long time… in the meantime I watched I lot of tv. It seems I grew up in the time of great kid’s game shows. I guess this was training me for things like Family Feud or The Price is Right. Watching tv with my niece and nephew now is bland because they don’t have any kid’s game shows anymore. (I may just be one of those that thinks the years she grew up was the golden age.) Anyway… I figured I would do a countdown of some of what I think are the greatest kid game shows I watched as a kid.
The 90’s were an interesting time. Pogs, Slap Bracelets, the Green Ranger and his Dragonzord, Goku and his nimbus. There is a lot that brings me that feeling of nostalgia but it is probably those that are on this list that bring me the most joy. I spent a lot of time hoping that I could visit Orlando Studios… (I finally got to go as an adult. Read that post.) I am going to try to keep this short… but we will see what happens.
- Nick Arcade – It originally aired in 1992 during weekend afternoons. Weekends were a good time for tv. We aw contestants face off in several different rounds of challenges involving trivia, video games, and live-action video games. Two teams of contestants played two initial rounds, with the winner advancing to play against the “Video Game Wizard” of the day. In the main game, the teams would navigate Mikey across an 18-square game board towards a Goal. Each step along the way triggered trivia quizzes, video puzzles, instant-win prizes, enemies, and video game challenges; Points! Puzzles! Pop Quizzes! and Prizes! The winning team got a chance to play in The Video Zone, a massive bluescreen background in front of which contestants would act as the character within a game, attempting to beat three levels, including one of three Video Game Wizards of the day. I used to love watching the teams move Mikey and what I now know as bluescreen and the contestants. Apparently, it was only on the air for a year. I totally wanted to be a video game. No way my mom was going for that though. So apparently, it is on Paramount Plus. That is definitely a plus for that streaming service.
- Double Dare – Back when you wanted to avoid being slimed… and it was thick and vomit-colored. (New slime is different.) This game show combined trivia questions with physical challenges. It’s been around the longest and has the most iterations: Double Dare, Super Sloppy Double Dare, Family Double Dare, and Double Dare 2000. Two teams (each either comprised of two children or two children and their parents) squared off in the main game of trivia questions, which could be answered in a number of ways: answer the question, dare the other team to answer it (doubling the value), returning a dare with a double dare (doubling the value again), or accepting a physical challenge instead of answering at all. I wanted it to be a physical challenge all the time. It almost always had to do with finding a flag or filling a canister in some outrageous way. The final course was always a bunch of mess. From finding flags in a giant fake pizza to having to pick a giant nose… I wanted to run the final course and get messy… but knew my mother would never slide down a slide with an ice cream sundae on it.
- Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? – PBS had a hit on their hands with this one… and they knew it. You can still hear the song, can’t you? This was before I was introduced to the computer game in middle school even though the show is based on the game. The game show was created after a National Geographic survey found that one in four Americans could not locate the Soviet Union or the Pacific Ocean on a map. (Sadness. But not surprised.) The game happened in 3 rounds with the player with the lowest score dropping off. Three contestants (Gumshoes) have been recruited by ACME Detective Agency to track down Carmen Sandiego and her henchmen by answering geography-based trivia questions. (Remember, She’s a double-dealing diva with a taste for thievery.) The Gumshoes were given Crime Bucks to start out, rewarded with more for each correct answer, and allowed to wager their Crime Bucks based on how certain they were as to the criminals’ location. (Something about the fact that Carmen was a woman that was smart enough to go undetected stuck with me even as a kid.) The second round saw the remaining Gumshoes looking for prizes and evidence hidden behind images of famous landmarks of that game’s location. Gumshoes had to find The Loot, The Warrant, and The Crook in that exact order to win the game. That winning Gumshoe then earned a chance to capture Carmen Sandiego in the bonus round’s World Map. The World Map was HUGE and blank. But everything in me knew I could conquer it. Younger me was a total nerd for geography, landmarks, and the like. The Gumshoe had to find and mark a number of locations in order to capture Carmen Sandiego and win the grand prize. The grand prize was almost always a family trip and I wanted to go somewhere as a kid soooooo badly. Nothing like yelling at the kids who couldn’t find Nicaragua. This was a show that I never missed… and was my first introduction National Geographic and why I love it now. This was a show that I NEVER missed. DO IT ROCKAPELLA!!! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozYg8vDTmkc)
- Guts/Global Guts – Do you have it? Who didn’t love Mo… There was nothing that got me more hype than Guts. Because I felt that I had it. So this was my taste of Olympic events or extreme sports. GUTS was concerned with one thing: pure, athletic competition. Each episode featured three young athletes squaring off against each other in a series of four events based on extreme sports. You got points no matter where you placed… but the final competition was always what I was about. I wanted to conquer the Crag. The 28-30 foot tall artificial mountain featured strobe-light lightning, foam rock avalanches, glitter snow, and nuclear flying crystals. Kids had to navigate the perilous mountain climb while activating lights along the way, with the ultimate goal of climbing the mountain first. There were, if I remember correctly, 8 lights that had to be lit up along the way. If you missed one, you had to go back and it could cost you your place. The other thing I remember was the crag was broken down into 3 lanes… so the contestants were climbing at the same time. The final Crag Competition could put someone at the bottom over the top. The Crag was known as the Aggro Crag in season one and two, the Mega Crag in season three, and the Super Aggro Crag in Global GUTS. When I say… I begged my mother about climbing the Crag… and she ignored me lol. Good times. Some of the events were just great if not a bit outrageous. There were several different types of events, ranging from field sports to pool sports. Many events made use of elastic harnesses for aerial purposes. There were also track events and an obstacle course taking place in the gym. Apparently, also on Paramount Plus
- Legends of the Hidden Temple – This was definitely in my top three. As in another on the list that I never missed when it was on. I wanted to be a Silver Snake so badly. Who didn’t want to talk to the talking head Olmec? Six teams each comprised of one boy and one girl (between 11 and 14) would compete in a series of physical and mental challenges with the ultimate aim of retrieving an artifact from the titular temple. Teams were the Purple Parrots, Orange Iguanas, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Red Jaguars, and Silver Snakes. Olmec revealed mythological, historical, and geographical facts about each item. Teams went through three elimination rounds. And the team left standing got to go on the temple run to retrieve the artifact. That damn moat seemed stressful. Though each episode started with six teams, two of them were eliminated right away if they were the last ones to cross The Moat. The remaining four teams then advanced to the Steps of Knowledge where Olmec would relate the episode’s central story as well as the location of the artifacts within the temple. The two teams advanced down the steps by correctly answering related trivia questions about the story they just heard and then moved on to The Temple Games. These physical challenges appeared in a “Best of Three” series that not only granted the winning team access to the final round but also allowed them to earn Pendants of Life. These items allowed Temple Runners to escape the clutches of the Temple Guards as long as they had a full pendant to exchange. You could get half a pendant… but that would mean that you would need to find the other half pendant in the maze. In the Temple Run, the team had three minutes to retrieve the artifact inside and bring it back outside the temple. Inside the temple were three temple guards hidden inside three of the rooms. If a player was caught by a temple guard and if they didn’t have a pendant to save them, they were captured and their teammate had to go inside the temple and retrieve the item. For some reason… The Shrine of the Silver Monkey had kids stumped and that killed me because… it was only 3 pieces… HURRY UP AND JAB THE HEAD ON THERE! I wasn’t scared of the Temple Guards but I can see a person popping out at you being unnerving… I don’ think the kids were scared more than surprised.
- Wild and Crazy Kids – This was my introduction to Omar Gooding. There was no rhyme or reason to the show and for kids, that is really all they needed. Each episode consisted of three games with one host emceeing each game. The teams were identified by the color of the shirts they wore, which varied from show to show. The games varied in style; many were different takes on playground games, sports with unusual rules added, or messy games involving pies or slime. I distinctly remember an episode where kids had unusually large ice cream cones and had to slide down into a pool and whoever kept the most ice cream on the cone won. ODD but it apparently stuck. The majority of shows were filmed at various community parks and beaches in the greater Los Angeles area. Occasionally, the show taped special episodes at a theme parks such as Raging Waters, Wild Rivers, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Unlike other Nickelodeon game shows, no prizes were ever awarded to any of the players. I just wanted a group of kids to do this with when I was younger. They had games like Dizzy Bat Home Run Derby, Three-Legged Soccer, Bumper Boat Lacrosse, Splash Football, Red light/Green light, Cops and Robbers, and Tug of War. Sometimes, this seems more like a comedy show than anything else. But it had a field day feeling and I loved field day.
- Figure it Out – This panel show featured children with special skills competing as contestants. While they stand off-screen and share their talent with the home audience, a panel of four Nickelodeon celebrities try to guess the predetermined phrase that describes the contestant’s particular skill. Something about Danny Tamberelli and Lori Beth Denberg getting slimed was fun. Figure It Out was a flip on kids’ game shows, putting the talents of contestants in the spotlight while having their celebrity peers try to guess, and then admire their talent. The show was so popular that a revival of it was launched in 2012; it lasted about a year.
Events for GUTS/Global Guts
So no I am not done gushing over GUTS. Here is a look at many of the events that the kids had to deal with. I just knew that I would conquer these… and it would be my crowning achievement. So let’s go… Track and Field
- Moon Race – This event made use of Nickelodeon Moon Shoes, which were strapped to the players’ feet. Players raced around the track by jumping with the moon shoes on. Players must stay in their designated lanes or they’ll be disqualified, and the player who crossed the finish line first was the winner. This one was odd… but I wanted moon shoes. My friend had some and I was so jealous.
- Wild Wheels – Players were buckled into a special recumbent tricycle, which they then pedaled around the track while going through some obstacles such as cones and ramps. Players competed one at a time, and if the player went off the track or missed an obstacle during their run, he or she received a two-second penalty. The player who finished this course in the fastest time was the winner. This looked hard and I was not about that life. I knew I could ride a bike but I hate sand. I would not have made it. But I am sure that would have been fun.
- Eat My Dust – In this event, players, going one at a time, rode a BMX bicycle around the track, while having to deal with obstacles such as the “Bump n’ Dump” ramp, a sand trap, the “Tippin’ Tubular Tunnel”, the “Sack Attack” (a series of swinging punching bags) and a final ramp before crossing the finish line. A two-second penalty was imposed on a player if they went off the track during their run. The fastest time was the winner. Again… maybe I could do it now… but I didn’t have confidence… the punching bags were a lot.
- Blade Runners -The contestants wore in-line skates, which they used to race around the track, going through some obstacles as they went along, including a pair of low hurdles (the Limbo Bars), a series of flags or cones (the Frantic Flags, or the Slalom), some swinging punching bags (the Sack Attack), a low tunnel (the Car Wash), and a final ramp. Players received a two-second penalty if they stepped off of the track during their run. Fastest time won. I think I have only ever seen this once… but I know it was subconsciously added to my fuel to learn in-line skating. My mother thought that was too dangerous but I mean it was nothing as extreme as this.
- Basic Training – One of the most frequently played events, players navigated a six-station obstacle course (seven in Global GUTS) one at a time. To prevent making strategies based on their performance, opposing players were not allowed to watch contestants run the course before their turn. Players had to complete each obstacle before moving on to the next one (any missed obstacle resulted in a disqualification). The player who cleared the course in the fastest time won.
- Obstacle 1– It was either the cargo net or the wall climb. Cargo net always seemed to slip people up. Since it was the start of the competition, it usually set the tone for the rest of the I usually thought if it was me… I would have a chance if I was up against the wall…
- Obstacle 2 – It was either the tightrope walk, rings, or the Tarzan swing. I know that tightrope walk always made me cringe. The gymnastic rings… or the swing seemed a bit easier but I have seen people have to start all the way over.
- Obstacle 3 – Usually seemed the easiest to me… The Freefall, Slide for Life, Fire Pole… any of these things…now that I am older I can see this was to break up the course… with something a little less energy. I always wanted to jump from a high platform onto a large into an airbag. I’ll do it at some point… but some things are more acceptable if you are a kid. Like the fire poles.
- Obstacle 4 – I always thought it was the worst because it almost always (at least when I was watching it… ) the elastic jungle… and people had a HARD time with it. A lot of people got delayed in the jungle. The other obstacle was the tire crawl… which by comparison was so much easier.
- Obstacle 5 – Wall Climb or Cargo Net, depending on which of those two obstacles was first.
- Obstacle 6 – Tube slide where they land in the GUTS pool or the free fall depending on if it was used in obstacle 3.
Pool – The pool always freaked me out because I couldn’t swim… I know how to stay afloat now… still wouldn’t call it swimming. They made things seem like a real Olympic event because of these damn water cannons.
- Invisible Boat – Players were hooked to an elastic cord and given a paddle. The players used the paddle to walk themselves across the pool before touching the end of the pool with their paddle; this was made more difficult by means of several water cannons creating rapids in the pool. Fastest time won. In the 1994 season, this event was made a bit more difficult, in that players were now required to paddle to the end of the pool and then back. As such, in this version of the event, not touching both ends of the pool with one’s paddle resulted in an automatic third-place finish. People had the weirdest forms trying to get from one side of the pool to another. Some people could not get across. Their feet were just flailing but not moving.
- Boogie Down – With rapids active, players, who were hooked to a harness, use a rope to pull themselves from one end of the pool to the other and back while kneeling on a kneeboard (boogie board). Fastest time won. The pitfall here was having the board take a nosedive into the water… and it slows you down completely.
- White Water – With rapids active, players had to paddle an inflated raft around two buoys and to the end of the pool, where they gave a high five to a spotter to end the race. If a player did not go around a buoy, he or she got a five-second penalty added to their time. The player with the fastest time won the event. In the first two seasons, if the player exceeded a 60-second time limit, he or she would get an automatic third place.
- Totally Tubular – The swimming pool was divided into three lanes for this event, and each lane had an equal number of inner tubes. Players simultaneously swam to the other end of the pool, having to put the inner tubes over themselves as they swam along. After touching the end of the pool, they had to swim back to the starting point with the tubes still on them. The player who made it back to the starting point first was the winner. However, if a player did not touch the end of the pool before coming back to the starting point, or missed any inner tubes, he or she was disqualified. This seemed impossible to me because really… who is supposed to swim this way? But other kids were doing it which means… I was behind on what I felt I needed to know about
- Power Ski – Hanging from a harness, the player’s feet were strapped to a special (trick) water ski. With the Wave Ball active, the object was for the players to pull themselves from one end of the pool to the other and back while on the ski, high-fiving the spotters at each end. The fastest time won the event. This seemed like one of the few things I could do but even this had some pitfalls. The pitfall here was having the ski take a nosedive into the water… and it slows you down completely.
Field events were fun… because it was something I could mimic out in the field with my friends. I was definitely thinking that I could have come out on top in these events.
- Free Kick – Two automated cannons shot several soccer balls at each of the players in front of the nets. (Kinda scary… but I was pumped about it.) Players had to block as many of the soccer balls as they possibly could in the allotted time (30 seconds in seasons 1 and 3, and 45 seconds in season 2 and Global GUTS), and the one who blocked the most shots won.
- Wild Pitch – Things get a little more dangerous here. Cannons shot several baseballs at high speeds directly at the three players. (Yikes!) In earlier playings, the object of this game was to dodge as many balls as possible in 30 seconds, with the player getting hit the fewest times being the winner. The second and more familiar version of this event gave the players a baseball bat to use. Here, they tried to hit as many balls as they could with their bats in 30 seconds (45 seconds in season 2), with the winner being the person who hit the most balls.
- Blast It – Players stood in a center circle as soccer balls poured out of an elevated tube. There were three separate goals set in a triangular fashion outside the circle (each one representing the player’s color), and the object was to score as many soccer goals as they could in 60 seconds. Players could not leave the center circle or touch the ball with their hands. There was a lot going on here. Maybe too much.
These were the most epic events. I was down to do bungee jumps off the top of the alter. Kids had so much trouble climbing back up to jump again. LOL. Poor kids. Even with the energy they had.
- Bull’s Eye – Modeled after archery, players were equipped with crossbows and velcro arrows. With the help of the elastics, they jumped off the Aerial Bridge and fired the arrows at the targets in front of them. Only arrows that actually hit the bullseye counted, and they only counted after the player hit the ground first before bouncing back up. The player with the most bullseyes scored in 60 seconds won the event (45 seconds in one season 3 episode). There was nothing you can tell me. I was winning this.
- Slam Dunk – This one is my favorite Aerial. To me, this is the only way to play basketball. If not with a bungee cord… then why do it? Slamball comes close but… not really. Players jumped off the Aerial Bridge and attempted to shoot a basketball through an elevated basketball hoop with each jump. Baskets only counted if they were made after the player touched the ground. All three players competed at the same time, and the player with the most baskets scored in 60 seconds won.
- Spirals – Football… more or less… with a twist. Add an Aerial Bridge to anything and that makes it 100 times better. Especially in the mind of a kid. With all three competing at the same time, players jumped off the Aerial Bridge and tried to throw footballs through a set of tires and into a net. The player with the most footballs thrown into his or her goal in 45 seconds (60 seconds in season 2) won.
- Over the Top – This was modeled after high jump competitions. Each player, one at a time, jumped off the Aerial Bridge and tried to jump over a hurdle at a set height. Each player received three jumps (two in one episode). If a player successfully cleared the hurdle, it was raised for the next jump; if not, the player attempted the next jump at the same height. The player who jumped the highest was the winner.
- The Longest Yard – Another Long Jump Event. Each player jumped from the Bridge and tried to make the longest distance they could away from it, making their mark by planting their feet in a sandpit in front of the bridge. Jumps that did not include two footprints in the sand did not count. The player making the longest jump won the event. Fun times had by all.
- Jump! Jump! – This event was based on hurdling competitions. Players jumped off the bridge, over two high hurdles, and onto the bridge on the opposite side, before jumping over the hurdles again and back onto the original bridge. A five-second penalty was imposed on a player if he or she knocked a hurdle down, and in the first two seasons, a two-second penalty was imposed if a player needed help from the spotters. The player who cleared this event in the fastest time won the event.
- Make Your Mark – Each player jumped from the Bridge and, upon jumping back up, tried to make their highest mark on a yellow wall with paint resembling Nickelodeon’s famous green slime. In earlier versions of this event, players put plastic gloves on their hands and dipped them in paint before trying to slap their hands on the wall. In later playings, players jumped into a giant ink pad (in season 1, players jumped into green ink, and in season 2, players jumped into inkpads corresponding to their jersey color) and then tried to make their mark on the wall with their feet. The highest jump won.
- Zero G – There was no way I could do this even in my mind. So it is what it is. The contestants were suspended sideways and had to run across a sideways track with hurdles and trampolines (“Black Holes”). They also had to make their way around the “Edge of Nothing,” a sharp turn onto the other side of the track. The player who cleared this event in the fastest time was the winner.
- Slam-A-Jama – This was a variation on Slam Dunk… where each contestant played both offense and defense. Each player had 30 seconds to score baskets in a hoop inside of a center cylinder while the other players tried to reject the shots. After one player has had their turn, he or she then went on defense against the next player. The player with the most hoops scored won. Players on defense could not grab onto the basket while they tried to defend against a player on offense; if they did grab onto the basket, they would lose a point that they scored on offense. Good times. I would have loved to try this.
So in the end… These were some of the kids shows that I watched religiously. My mother was not impressed with some of them… (There was no way I was going to pick a giant nose.) These shows were a large part of the reason I wanted to visit Universal Studios Florida for the long time. I am down to see some of them come back for a new generation. Definitely, things like GUTS, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. A lot of these are being shown on Paramount Plus. I am wondering if that is enough to get a new service. I was Disney Plus for the nostalgia factor…. But we will see. Where in the World is Carmen San Diego can be found on Youtube for now… I loved my trip down memory lane for now. Tell me what your favorite kid game shows were when you were younger… But that is all for now.
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