The '90s was a booming decade. There were excellent tunes on our stereos, and we wore the brightest fashions. Television was a bright landscape, and a cornerstone of that brightness was a resurgence in game shows.
Whether the family gathered to watch together, you watched while home sick from school, or you stayed up late to sneak in your favorite, game shows were front and center. Odds are you watched every week, completely convinced that if YOU had gone on the show, you'd have won the cash and prizes, which were usually a really cool Casio keyboard or a Swatch.
This Throwback Thursday, let's remember some of the game shows we dreamed of being a contestant on!
American Gladiators pitted regular athletic folk up against the greatest athletes in America, the “Gladiators.” Through a series of competitions, the average guys and gals did their best to beat the Gladiators and earn points that would take them to The Eliminator, the final round.
There was a big payday ($25,000 was a lot of money at the time,) for the the little guy if they beat the Gladiator. Watching from home, it looked easy, and we were all convinced that we could take down Nitro, Turbo, Ice, Laser, and Hawk. But truth be told, we probably would've failed miserably.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
Kirk Fogg hosted (with the help of Olmec, the giant rock head) this popular Nickelodeon game show where teams like the Silver Snakes, the Green Monkeys and the Blue Barracudas were all vying for a chance to win a run through Olmec's temple.
The teams first competed in obstacle course challenge over a moat, then moved on to the Steps of Knowledge, where they answered Olmec's history questions, all the while collecting half pendants of life which would save them from the extra-scary temple guards, as they swung on a ropes and put together a monkey, somehow trying to navigate that temple in just three minutes. Contestants almost never won the big prize, but they did walk away with a Nestle Quick Gift Pack or a Duncan Yo-Yo.
Think you can get Mikey to the goal? Nick Arcade was the dream for a video gamer in the '90s. Contestants answered video game trivia, faced off using systems they had at home, and competed to actually have the chance to play in a virtual reality game in the “Wizard's Challenge,” or Expert as it would change to in later seasons. With vacations on the line you never wanted to see GAME OVER pop up on your screen!
Marc Summers hosted this one, in which teams faced off in messy challenges, which sometimes included filling containers with gross liquids, or picking a giant slime-filled nose for prizes.
There were many iterations of Double Dare; Family Double Dare, Super Sloppy Double Dare, and Double Dare 2000, each one just as fun and gross as the original.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
She sneaks around the world from Kiev to Carolina, and put the “mis” in misdemeanor when she stole the beans from Lima. On the educational PBS gameshow that remains a '90s nostalgia icon, Gumshoes faced off as the Chief, Lynne Thigpen, gave them clues about Carmen Sandiego's location.
Through a series of historical and geographical questions and challenges, the Gumshoes tried to capture the infamous lady in the red hat. The prizes were big for a Gumshoe who successfully put Carmen behind bars... a trip anywhere in the United States, and later, anywhere in North America.
Before Chris Hardwick built the Nerdist empire, he co-hosted the MTV game show that put 50 potential daters into categories based on, ahem, physical attributes, and the “Picker” chose what type of person they were looking for.
The next round, Keep 'Em or Dump 'Em, gave potential dates the chance to answer questions, in a Dating Game style. The final potentials left went on the The Final Cut, where they were asked a series of questions that enabled them to move forward or stay put. The contestant who made it to the Picker first won the date. If you were watching MTV in the '90s, you had a crush on Hardwick, Jenny McCarthy, or Carmen Electra, all of whom took turns hosting, and though you wanted the chance to play along, you really just wanted to date them!
Do you have them? Think you can climb to the top of the Aggro Crag? Mike O'Malley hosted this Nickeodeon gem in which contestants proved they had guts in numerous extreme sport challenges. They earned points that would help them get a head start when climbing the Crag, the giant mountain with buttons you needed to activate in order to win.
Climbing to the top wasn't easy; avalanches, snow, and lightning were dropped on contestants making it harder to reach the peak. It was worth it if you were the winner...you got to take home your very own piece of the Aggro Crag, an exclusive memento that proved you had GUTS.
Win Ben Stein's Money
You may remember Ben Stein as the Clear Eyes guy, but in the '90s, everyone tuned in to comedy central to watch his popular quiz show. The first round had contestants competing in general knowledge questions, and those who advanced faced off against Stein himself as he fought to protect his money, the huge total of $5,000.
The show won an Emmy is 1999 for Oustanding Game Show Host, an accolade that Stein shared with his co-host, and future late night host, Jimmy Kimmel.
You've always imagined it: the chance to have a shopping spree through a store, and throw everything and anything in your shopping cart. Supermarket Sweep gave teams that opportunity. Teams started with a base time of 1:30. Half of the two-person team then guessed the value of grocery items to earn additional :15 increments.
In Round 2, their partner took over, using the time earned to grab anything and everything from the aisles, and the team with the largest dollar amount in their carts won, and got to come back the next day for another match. They got to keep everything in their carts, and earn bonus prizes along the way. As a kid, it might have been cooler to zoom through Toys 'R Us, but for adults, this was a dream show to be a contestant on.
What Would You Do?
What Would You Do? was audience participation at its finest. The game show allowed members of the studio audience to make a choice: perform a crazy stunt (eat a Twinkie covered in gravy!) or head to the Pie Pod, a contraption that would launch cream pies at their face.
Eventually, they caught on to the fact that people REALLY wanted Pies launched at them, so it became a reward (happy birthday, you lucky kid!) as well as a punishment that, let's be honest, you absolutely wanted.
The Price is Right
During any of the show's decades, you've wished to hear those famous words, “Come on down!” and fantasized that not only would you make it past the bidding round, but that you'd get to play Plinko, cause let's get real, it's everyone's favorite game.
If you were a kid or a teen in the '90s, you especially loved staying home sick from school, and shouting prices at the television, prices which you had no idea were right or wrong, because hey, you didn't do the shopping!