Editor’s Note: NickSplat is now available on VRV! It includes Nickelodeon content from the 1990’s and beyond, including “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” “CatDog,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” “Doug,” “Kenan & Kel,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “The Angry Beavers” and “The Wild Thornberrys,” among others. To celebrate, we’re sharing our childhood experiences with these shows and inviting you to rewatch these classics with us.
As an 80s and 90s kid with cable, I inevitably watched tons of Nickelodeon. In particular, I was a fiend for their game shows: Double Dare to start, and then the 90s onslaught of programs like Guts and Nick Arcade. And if there’s one thing I know about those shows, it’s that I could have done everything on them perfectly.
Okay, maybe not.
But if you’ve watched a game show enough times, day after day, you start to see the patterns in the challenges. You know where things are hidden, what the issues are going to be, and what trends the questions follow. You also have the luxury of never ever having to be face to face with any of those things in the real world. (Unless you were once a contestant on one of those shows—in which case, hi! I love you!)
Even so, revisiting these shows doesn’t seem to have changed my deep-seated belief that if you’d just give me a helmet and some elbow pads, I could totally handle whatever the big orange studio threw at me. Despite the fact that I’m 37 years old and probably couldn’t have auditioned my way in then or now… I still feel it. And if you were a kid raised on Nickelodeon game shows, so do you, and you can’t tell me any differently.
You also can’t tell me that you, too, don’t believe you wouldn’t be able to nail the heck out of these challenges.
Put together the Silver Monkey
Legends of the Hidden Temple was a favorite of mine for its combination of lore, history, and action. I would have given anything to go into the Temple, despite the scary guards and the crazy amount of running and climbing.
But even with the understanding that the kids who made it onto the show were far more athletic than I’ll ever be, there’s one thing I still know I could’ve made happen at least ten times faster than anyone else. I could’ve assembled the heck out of that Silver Monkey.
Hidden Temple fans know exactly what I mean, but for those who don’t, there was a room in the final level of the show called the the Shrine of the Silver Monkey, in which you had to assemble the metallic critter in question. It was three pieces— legs, body, head—and the pieces were placed in relatively obvious positions around the room.
But for some reason, this thing gave people trouble. Sometimes they just couldn’t get it to stay together, despite the head piece having a long dowel that held everything in place. Sometimes they didn’t even know which side was up on the leg and body pieces. And while I’m sure nerves and the heat of the moment had everything to do with the confusion, there’s an entire generation of us who would sit at home watching in disbelief.
Of course, once in a while a kid came along and just nailed it. And that was gratifying.
Defeat the Game Wizards
Nick Arcade was a show ahead of its time—it aired just when video games were starting to come into their own as a medium. Two teams of two were tested on their knowledge of everything from history to pop culture, and challenged to traditional video games re-skinned for the series.
And if you won? You got to enter the Video Zone, a place between our world and the Video Dimension. Behind a pair of smoky, metal doors was a world where real people became avatars in video games with the help of green screens… I mean technological magic!
Beat the first two levels and your team fought one of three Game Wizards. This consisted of avoiding their minions and grabbing three floating magic orbs bopping around their level. Considering the time limit was 60 seconds, making it through three full-body minigames was often easier said than done. Not every player even got to see Merlock, Scorchia, or Mongo, much less challenge them.
Of course, like any video game, all the attacks and environmental changes followed patterns and could be timed. So if you were sitting at home watching constantly, you could get a pretty good idea of the pacing of each game. This was almost assuredly not the case when you were, you know, on a bright green set watching a monitor and trying to figure out how anything you were doing affected the fake world around you. But darned if it didn’t feel possible the more you watched.
Remember that the flag is under the pepperoni
I grew up with the original version of Double Dare, and boy, am I glad there are newer seasons on VRV. Not only that, I’m glad to see it’s still the absolute mess it always was, and that families are working together to make it through surreal, slimy obstacle courses to win family vacations.
Up front, I know that I could never actually be depended on to hold up my end if my family tackled the course. I’m too clumsy and lose track of things too easily. But there’s one place I know I’d excel: the Blue Plate Special. Provided it’s pizza.
If there’s one thing long-time Double Dare viewers know about the obstacle course, it’s that when you get to the pizza, the flag is always under a pepperoni. Always. Don’t even go looking anywhere else, just lift the giant pepperonis, there it is.
Conquer the Aggro Crag
…okay, no, I can’t even kid myself here. Guts was insane. And as much as I’d like to believe I could have braved my way to the top of that indoor mountain with glitter and styrofoam boulders coming at me, that’s gonna be a big Nope.
This American Gladiators for kids was equal parts goofy and intense in true Nickelodeon fashion, and the kids who took on its challenges were super impressive. While we’re all grown up now and could climb an indoor rock wall whenever we want, it’ll never be the same as the stunts that Guts offered up. Which is probably a good thing, because as much as I’d like to say I could’ve taken home that trophy, there are some lies too big even for a listicle. I can dream, though.
Not only that, I can actually go back and rewatch all of these after two decades. And that in itself is awesome. Even if I’ll never get to win a croquet set or a color-changing Walkman.