While the name Starcade might evoke puzzled looks from anyone who doesn’t recall the era of the first video game boom and might even be confused with a long-dormant wrestling mega-event, it was an intriguing step in the mainstream introduction of video games. Indeed, Starcade, a television game show running from 1982-1984, was the first of its kind to be themed around video games. Now, retro-minded media company Shout! Factory are working to bring it back to the forefront in the 21st century.
Shout! Factor has acquired the worldwide television and ancillary rights to Starcade with intent to create what is being called a “retro-boot” of the classic game show – created by James Caruso and Mavis E. Arthur – from its original owners JM Production Company. The original show depicted young gamers competing in the latest arcade video games for gamer-related swag and larger grand prizes. Shout! Factory will serve as executive producer of the reboot show in partnership with JM and will also work on other projects related to the franchise for global audiences. According to a statement by Shout! Factory founders Richard Foos, Garson Foos and Bob Emmer:
“Starcade is a classic game show from the ‘80s and is pure nostalgic fun. We couldn’t be more excited to work with the original show creators to ‘retro-boot’ Starcade for a new generation of fans. As we continue to actively expand our reach into production and development for new series, movies, unscripted shows and specials, this deal exemplifies the type of content we plan to pursue which taps into the interests and passions of our company’s loyal fanbase.”
Creators Caruso and Arthur also chime in on the reboot deal, stating:
“We’re thrilled to be part of this Starcade revival. We look forward to bringing the show back for all those avid Starcaders who have been waiting for years, as well as a new class of gaming heroes. Game on!”
After a few scrapped pilots, including one in which a pre-Jeopardy! Alex Trebek hosted, Starcade debuted in 1982 on Ted Turner’s then-burgeoning cable outlet TBS, eventually moving on to syndication until its conclusion in 1984. Mark Richards was its original host, replaced for the rest of its run in 1983 by Geoff Edwards. The show would pave the way for further genre-similar game shows in later eras such as Video Power, GamePro TV, Nick Arcade and Arena. Interestingly, Starcade did experience a retro Renaissance of sorts in 2002 when the (now-defunct) video-game-themed cable network G4 ran reruns.
Still preserved sporadically on YouTube, Starcade is a head-turning time capsule that captures the quintessence of the height of the first video game boom. By no coincidence, the series’ demise in 1984 generally falls in line with the industry’s colossal 1983 collapse; a setback that would not be remedied until the popular surge of Nintendo in 1987.
In a rather nebulous pop-culture era where we find ourselves continually looking to the past, the return of Starcade could prove to be an indicative test regarding the current state of the video game industry. Besides the obvious technological advances, video games are perceived as a completely different medium compared to the quarter-popping “score more points” era of Starcade. Nevertheless, it should prove to be quite the retro spectacle that needs to be seen to be believed.