Okay, quick show of hands: Who remembers Nick Arcade? While never reaching the sheer insanity of other Nickelodeon game shows like Legends Of The Hidden Temple, the Phil Moore-hosted game show was still a boon to video game-obsessed kids in the ’90s, offering a vision of a world in which basic trivia knowledge and some moderate skill at Gradius might allow you to be “sucked into the video world,” i.e., forced to do some extremely rudimentary green-screen platforming while everyone at home shouted at you to stop fucking up all the time and just grab the goddamn power orb, please.
Given that nostalgia now makes up, roughly, 140 percent of online market forces, it’s not surprising to learn that you can stream episodes of Nick Arcade on Amazon. What are kind of shocking, though, are the episode descriptions that accompany each episode, which appear to have been written by someone who was extremely bored by all this running and jumping nonsense, and so decided to flex their comedy writing muscles instead. The writing starts out at least semi-normal—“A contestant named Nicole goes inside of a video game and has to jump over virtual rats in an attempt to win a set of encyclopedias. Host Phil Moore makes no attempt to convince her that it isn’t worth the trouble”—but steadily gets weirder and weirder, as the writer’s attention is quickly hijacked by Moore’s wardrobe choices.
Episode Four: “This does not necessarily speak to the content of this episode, but host Phil Moore wears a tremendous sweater in this episode. The pattern is mesmerizing and the cut is ahead of its time.”
Episode Seven: “Host Phil Moore wears a shirt so baggy that a sharp gust would send him sailing into the sky. The contestants go inside a video game, where they are required to put on helmets and kneepads so they can safely steal digital bananas from virtual monkeys.”
Things go even further off the rails for the show’s second season, where the descriptions are entirely dedicated to Moore’s shirts and jeans, to the point where the episodes now carry Comedy Bang Bang-esque titles like, “Phil Moore Wears A Gold Shirt” and “Phil Moore Won’t Take Off The Gold Shirt.” All references to the actual show, or the kids ostensibly playing it, are gone; just demands that Moore bring back particular Hawaiian shirts that the writer liked.
The anonymous writer’s descriptions/clothing reviews also appear on the show’s iTunes offerings, which suggests that these write-ups came from someone in the Nickelodeon/Viacom corporate structure. And while it’s possible that this was all part of some extremely calculated effort to build buzz around a decades-old game show by deploying some of that Wendy’s-esque online weirdness, we have to hope and pray that it’s more genuine: That nobody high-up in the company’s structure actually cared that much about what the streaming entries for Nick fucking Arcade said, and thus allowed these weird little micro-poems to slip by them. At least Moore—who’s currently working on a modern revival of the show, titled Battle Arcade—seems to be a good sport about it all: