Starcade was a game show where contestants competed against one another by playing arcade video games. The series originally aired on TBS from 1982 to 1983, followed by a run in syndication for the following season.
Mike Eruzione (1981 pilot)|
Alex Trebek (1982 pilots)
Mark Richards (1982–1983)
Geoff Edwards (1983–1984)
|Narrated by||Kevin McMahan|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||133 + 4 pilots|
San Francisco, CA
|Running time||23 minutes (approximately)|
JM Production Company|
Turner Program Services
|Distributor||Turner Program Services|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Original release||December 27, 1982 – September 1984|
Starcade was produced by the JM Production Company to air on TBS and later syndication by Turner Program Services (TPS). Starcade was the first video arcade game show, and set the blueprint for similar game shows like Video Power, Nick Arcade, and Arena. The show was used to showcase brand new arcade games.
Shortly after the series' cancellation, a second JM-produced video arcade game show, The Video Game, was aired for a brief period from 1984 to 1985.
Two players (or teams; age-regardless) competed. Three rounds were played.
Each round began with a video arcade-game related toss-up question. The player who buzzed in and answered correctly chose one of five free-standing arcade games in the studio and was given 40 seconds (later 60, then 50) to amass as high a score as possible. The opponent then played the same game, and whatever points the players earned were added to their overall scores. If a player's game ended before time ran out, the turn ended immediately and the player was credited with whatever points they had earned.
The second and third rounds were played identically, with 40 seconds (later 50) game playing time for the second round, and 30 seconds (later 40) for the third. Once a game was chosen for play in any round, it could not be chosen again. At the end of the second round (and third when the series began), the player in the lead played "Name the Game," attempting to identify four arcade games by screenshots. The player won a prize for correctly identifying at least three of the games, with a second prize awarded for correctly naming all four.
One of the five games was the "mystery game," which awarded a prize (originally 500 extra points, in very early episodes) to the player who chose it in any of the three rounds.
The player in the lead at the end of the third and final round won the game and a bonus prize, and moved on to the bonus round.
The player selected one of the two games that had not yet been played, and was given 30 seconds to beat the average score of 20 other players on that game. If the player did so, he/she won the day's grand prize, which consisted of either an arcade game, a home entertainment robot, a jukebox, or even a vacation (in certain "invitational" episodes).
The original pilot for Starcade was hosted by Olympic hockey player Mike Eruzione, taped at the studios of KRON-TV in San Francisco and featured an almost entirely different format. There were three rows of eight players (24 in total) and their own separate arcade game systems. All three rows featured a different video game; in this case, the first one featured eight Defender systems, the second one featured eight Centipede systems, and the third one featured eight Pac-Man systems. Each player had 30 seconds to accumulate a relatively high total. Whoever had the highest out of all eight on their team was selected to play against the two other highest-scoring players on an arcade game (Berzerk in this case) for the grand prize – their very own arcade game (Asteroids Deluxe, in this case) and an Apple II Home Computer System.
The overall winner would then play a brand-new arcade game against a celebrity "just for fun". The winner, David Dyche, played the then-new game Donkey Kong against Larry Wilcox, best known to viewers as police officer Jon Baker on the NBC crime-drama CHiPs.
The original pilot aired as a special on a handful of syndicated stations, where it rated quite well. Three more pilots were then shot for NBC at Bridge Studios, formerly the facilities of KPIX-TV (the station relocated to Battery Street in 1979, and the complex was demolished in 2006), featuring a retooled format (more similar to the series as aired) and host Alex Trebek (who was suggested by NBC). The pilot was picked up by Ted Turner in 1982, and the show began its life on WTBS in December, still taping at Bridge Studios with Mark Richards as host (as Trebek was busy with NBC's Battlestars at the time).
Richards, however, appeared to be uncomfortable on-camera; more importantly to Turner, Richards did not appear to be interested in video games. Richards was replaced by veteran game-show host Geoff Edwards on the 24th WTBS episode. Previously, Edwards had never played video games; but he became a fan soon after receiving the job, primarily by studying about the games in the rotation and reading gaming magazines; he would give his own hints to contestants, was once featured in a "Starcade Hotline" segment playing and beating the notoriously-difficult game Sinistar, and remained a fan of games up until his death in 2014.
The show's original theme was an eight-bit melody similar to those heard in various arcade games of the time. Halfway through Richards' run, the theme was changed to one composed by "Mindseed" (Ed and Joanne Anderson), who were also employed by Data East at the time and who also composed the music for Venture and Mouse Trap for Exidy.
Occasionally, special episodes were produced such as team episodes, and others in which only one game was played repeatedly through the entire episode. Games that were featured in an episode of their own were Cliff Hanger, Dragon's Lair, and the 1983 Star Wars game.
The final first-run show aired on February 24, 1984, with reruns airing in syndication until September 1984. TBS then reran episodes of Starcade on Sunday mornings until January 1985.
All episodes except episode #35 are known to exist, according to the official website.
In January 2017, Shout! Factory announced it had acquired the rights to Starcade from Caruso and Arthur, and intends to work with JM Productions to reboot the series, along with additional projects. No broadcast date has been determined yet.