There’s a reason reality television is so popular: it’s because everyone likes to put themselves in those situations and decide how they would react. It’s even better when there are big prizes involved! The 90s didn’t quite have the explosion of reality TV that the decades following did, but there was no shortage of game shows that we all wished we could play.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
Legends of the Hidden Temple was the highlight of many 90s kids after school activities. If you were a child of the 90s, you definitely had your favorite team out of the Red Jaguars, the Orange Iguanas, the Green Monkeys, the Blue Barracudas, the Purple Parrots, and the Silver Snakes. (Most of us also took this opportunity to learn what a barracuda was at an early age.) Various physical and educational challenges resulted in the ultimate test: the Temple Run.
What Would You Do?
The Nickelodeon network also produced a number of other game shows that are still unparalleled in entertainment value, such as the early 90s What Would You Do? This show celebrated the challenges of randomness, predicting human behavior, and–of course–pie (in various forms like the Pie Slide, Pie Pod, or Pie Wash).
Another great Nickelodeon show was Double Dare, which lasted from the late 80s through 1993. In the style of a show only children would understand, host Marc Summers allowed teams to "double dare" each other and then "double dare back." Double Dare challenged kids to trivia and obstacle courses, and the prizes were usually the ever-coveted trip to space camp or a theme park vacation.
Guts! was Nickelodeon’s most physical game show, featuring challenges that rose in intensity with the rounds played. Each show culminated in contestants competing to "climb the Aggro Crag." The Aggro Crag was an in-studio, man-made mountain full of obstacles where players would have to illuminate lights along their way. It’s a wonder that Guts! didn’t spawn an entire generation of avid mountain climbers.
Singled Out was MTV’s foray into game shows, featuring bombshell cohost Jenny McCarthy, later replaced by Carmen Electra. The show’s premise put 50 suitors in a room with one date, asking trivial questions to thin the herd, and slightly less trivial questions in the second round to thin it further. Undeniably silly and addictive, Singled Out managed to maintain its appeal for a successful three-year run.
Win Ben Stein’s Money
Comedy Central created an unlikely hit with Win Ben Stein’s Money, a trivia-style game show focused around the dry humor of actor, author, and lawyer Ben Stein. Though the show never actually used any of Stein’s own money to finance the prizes, the show got plenty of laughs and attention.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego started out as an educational computer game, but was turned into a television game show by PBS in 1991. Carmen Sandiego was one of those shows that was just clever enough to encourage kids to learn about history and geography through hunting down the title character after she had committed a crime.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire began airing late into the 90s, but it broke so many ratings records that we can’t leave it out. Regis Philbin hosted the American version of this UK hit and, in various incarnations, it took the game show world by storm in the years following.
Which game show was your favorite? Which would you have given up your Super Nintendo to be on? Vote at right and let us know!
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