Since the dawn of the mass-marketed video game, there have been producers attempting to create TV shows based on them. They have yet to succeed.

These shows are always complete garbage because gamers want to PLAY video games, not watch crappy shows about them or loosely based on them. But this hasn’t stopped anyone from making a go of it over and over… and over and over… and over.

And over.

Really, it’s just a litany of failure. A sad melange of regret and shame that makes young gamers cry out in their sleep and older gamers cringe, fearing these shows are representative of their hobby to ill-informed philistines.

Like a mad scientist that keeps a stable of mutants as examples of scientific miscarriages, the annals of failed video game TV shows are just as twisted and terrifying. Look at this sampling of fiascos:

  • Super Mario Bros. Super Show

  • Captain N: The Game Master

  • Pac-Man

  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

  • Street Fighter

  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

  • Double Dragon

  • Mega Man

  • Maniac Mansion

  • Nick Arcade

If you have fond memories of any of those shows or others not listed, I suggest you try watching them again now. I guarantee you’re looking at them with rose-tinted spectacles of disillusionment. I think we may have enjoyed them more as kids because we just thought it was “cool” that our games were on TV. The shows aren’t actually any good… at all.

We are a monument to all your sins!

We are a monument to all your sins!

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show sandwiched bad cartoons with even worse live action skits. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had the blue flash voiced by Steve Urkel and constantly ate chili dogs. Double Dragon was based off the HORRENDOUS “Double Dragon V”. Pac-Man featured our favorite yellow dot muncher portrayed as a prick and was chased around by ghosts that talked like gangsters.

Then there’s Nick Arcade…

No, shut up. It wasn’t good. Yes, it did actually feature kids playing video games but it was only for 30 seconds at a time and then they were back to answering questions, moving Mikey around the board, and completely and totally FUCKING UP the final round. Why were these kids so awful at video games? I hope their parents shunned them for being disappointments on national television.

The rare moments when they played games were like teases, giving viewers at home blue balls after they were hoping to go “all the way”. It was an infuriating show. Try watching it now. Veins will be popping from your forehead as you spit all over your computer screen screaming at how terrible those kids are.

Then there was G4, that botched station that was supposed to be 100% dedicated to video games. I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. Well, it did give us a localized version of “Sasuke”, called “Ninja Warrior” in these parts. Fine, but that has nothing to do with video games.

However, there is hope. A shining light that shoots up into the sky, trying to draw you towards it like a moth to a porchlight. A humble program from the land of the rising sun (that’s Japan, gaijin). A program that redefines everything we think we know TV shows about video games to be. One that proves there CAN be great television that involves our hobby of choice.

It’s called “GameCenter CX”, and it’s awesome.

GameCenter logo

The gist of the show is that our main character, Shinya Arino, is the Kacho, which means “Chief” in Japanese. He is trying to earn promotions by completing difficult video games.

Every episode, Arino is given a game he must complete within a time limit. The limit is usually around 14 hours and at the end of the day, at midnight, he is handed a wall clock showing he is close to or past the allotted time, and told that this is his last chance.

It’s during these moments where it’s like Cinderella has been given a chance to turn it all around and stay at the ball. Sometimes, games are simply too big or difficult, or Arino is too stubborn, and is allowed to persist and take a game into a second day. However, if he’s ever cutting it too close on time, he is always handed that giant clock as a reminder of his imminent failure.