My love for video-games is something I’ve had since childhood. I grew up loving them and I still do, but I didn’t have the money to buy them back then. Games were and still are expensive, so I found myself only playing the ones my parents rent/bought for me. Since I had no cash of my own, I would sometimes find different ways to enjoy games. These ways were all legal, of course.
This meant playing games at display kiosks at stores, or borrowing Nintendo Power magazines from the library. However, what if you wanted to see footage of new games right when they came out? YouTube and Twitch didn’t exist back then, so you couldn’t simply look up a game and watch footage of it.
Thankfully, there was an alternative for Canadian kids: Video & Arcade Top 10. This show was pretty interesting for its time, since it was a gameshow that focused exclusively on kids playing video-games for prizes. Kids would be brought up on stage and would compete against each other the hopes of winning really crappy prizes, like watches and puzzles shaped like the head of Elvis Presley. There were some actually good prizes, but those were few and far between.
There was also the show’s theme song, which was just a remix of the theme music for Crash Man’s stage in Megaman II. This was something I didn’t discover until adulthood, since I never actually played Megaman II. It was nice to know that this theme song did come from an actual game, even if it took me nearly 2 decades to discover this fact. You can tell that the show didn’t have a big music budget, since the theme song remained mostly untouched for the entirety of the show.
From the prizes to the theme song, you could tell this show was made on the cheap! To be fair, that was kind of its charm. The show was cheaply made, but you could tell the crew was passionate about it. The host of the show was Nicholas Picholas, and the amount of fun he brought made up for the overall cheapness of the production.
Nicholas was an energetic and lively host, one that made the show a true joy to watch. He didn’t become the host until the second season, but the show truly took off when he did! Of course, Nicholas is only part of the show’s attraction. The real reason everybody watched the show was most likely for the games, which there sure were a lot of.
Nintendo games seemed to be the most prevalent on Video & Arcade Top 10, since Nintendo was top dog back in the 90s and early 2000s. There was also a focus on E-rated games, since this show was targeted towards children. This became more of a priority in later seasons, where anything rated T or above was never shown at all.
The meat of the show came in the competition itself, which was usually fairly entertaining. The kids competing were often really bad at the games they played, which was always the most hilarious part of the show to me. As bad at games as I was, even I knew I was better at them than these kids!
The best part is when a kid showed up who was ACTUALLY GOOD AT GAMES, which usually meant that he would destroy everyone else in the competition without hesitation. On top of the competition itself, the hosts would often talk about music and films. In fact, I learned about the existence of “An Extremely Goofy Movie” through this show. I know it’s a random thing to bring up, but it’s true!
Video & Arcade Top 10 ran for a whopping 15 years, making it one of the longest running shows in Canadian history. This is a show that ran for over 700 episodes, which is a length that would make most long-running anime blush. The show was eventually rerun on GameTV for a while, but was taken off the air a few years ago.
Despite the show’s incredible length, there are very few ways to actually watch it. Why? Well, the show used a ton of copyrighted footage and content. This meant that getting the show released on home-video would be an expensive task. Not only that, but only a couple dozen episodes have surfaced on YouTube.
The only way to catch certain episodes is if somebody posts an old taping of the show online. This is especially annoying if you were a contestant on the show, since finding the episode you were in would be a near impossible task. Speaking of contestants, I always wanted to compete on this show growing up.
I just never wrote into the show, so I was sadly never picked for competition. I’m kind of glad this was the case, since I was terrible at video-games when I was a kid. Regardless, Video & Arcade Top 10 will remain one of my favorite shows from my childhood. I’ll always remember the entertaining hosts, the “Letter Time” segments, and the games of varying quality they would play in each individual episode.
I hope that all of the episodes will one day be posted online, but I find it doubtful. Still, I greatly enjoy the few episodes that have surfaced online. Video & Arcade Top 10 was silly and cheesy, but it also gave Canadian kids a way to see footage of new games without renting everything on the shelf at a Roger’s Video Store. While the show will never make a return to television, I’ll still remember it as something awesome I grew up with.