By Nicholas Fricke . July 17, 2006 . 3:10pm
In the early nineties, two video game-focused television shows were syndicated across America: Video Power and GamePro TV. Video Power was a mix of cartoons, game strategies and game show where kids would compete in video game-based contests where the winner run through an obstacle course to win cheap games and prizes, all while being filmed in front of a studio audience. GamePro TV was a partner to GamePro magazine, one of the biggest video game magazines of its time (both in readership and in magazine size, as I have a Holiday 1994 issue that must be over 300 pages with all of its previews, reviews, strategies and advertisements). The 30-minute television show focused on strategies for NES, Genesis and Super NES games, previews of future games and hardware and reviews of the latest games.
Of the two shows, GamePro TV was the only one (that I was aware of) being broadcast in my hometown during its short 1991-1992 run. So, for all intents and purpose of this article, forget about the corny-sounding Video Power and instead let’s focus on GamePro TV which was itself a cheap, tacky show.
In this “first” episode of Gamepro TV there‘s cheat codes and tips for Crystalis, Maniac Mansion, John Madden Football and TMNT: Rise of the Foot Clan, previews for Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Game Gear and Sega CD hardware, reviews of Wolverine for the NES and Castlevania II for the Game Boy and much more!
Being the game-obsessed child I was and lacking any judgment of quality, I eagerly awaited every Saturday morning in front of the television with a tape in the VCR and an itchy trigger finger on the record button. And for several months, I recorded every episode of GamePro TV that I could prepare for, up until the show’s abrupt cancellation.
That is where the story would end for most classic, niche television shows: usually forgotten by most of its viewers and remembered by a fond few who write about their memories of the show online, mostly to silence or indifference from others. Without any visible evidence, recollections about these programs are just a bunch of words describing some archaic show that most people can’t relate to.
Which leads to GamePro TV and me. For many years I have searched online for video clips and information about the show, wondering if anyone else remembered the show as well as I did. Aside from some mentions on Wikipedia, a description and several pictures of the show on some retro gaming website, and a few jabs at actor J.D. Roth for having this show be part of his early acting career, there was very little information on the show available online. Was I the only one who recorded this show?
Well, probably the only one who recorded it and kept the tape and knew of it’s whereabouts all these years. Placed inside of an old box full of VHS tapes of recordings from the mid-nineties, I always remembered what the tape looked like: an old Maxell VHS tape with “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES” written in poor handwriting on the labels. I would pull the tape out of its box every few years to watch some episodes, just for nostalgia and some laughs.
But after noticing the lack of information on GamePro TV online, I saw it as my duty to put these videos online, to share them with the world. And after forcing my cheap-ass to finally buy a video capture card, it’s now online for your viewing pleasure!
Or, at least, one episode is online. It’s probably not the first episode of GamePro TV, but it’s the first one I recorded that’s on the tape. Featuring J.D. Roth as the host and Brennan “B-man” Howard as the California surfer slang talking co-host, the two would usually be inserted into the beginning clips of games to introduce cheats and strategies. In-between these “SWAT: Secret Weapons And Tactics” segments, the hosts would preview future games and hardware, review the latest games, answer peoples’ questions on how to get past certain games, and post viewers’ high scores. The set design looked very cheap, using Super Mario Bros. as its inspiration with pipes coming out of the ground and ceiling and blocks similar to the ones used in the stairways leading to the flagpole. Games and accessories, like the U-Force, would decorate the set, including some Neo Geo hardware and joysticks.
And there’s more to come! This is for all the retro game fans out there and for all the people who remember this show. And much thanks goes out to GamePro for creating this awesome and campy show which will forever be part of my childhood.
Stay tuned to Siliconera for import game coverage and more episodes of GamePro TV!