Random Review: Masters of the Maze

I may love 90′s television with the kind of fiery passion that will almost surely cause the demise of one of my future relationships (It’ll be a jealously thing, she won’t understand that I can never love her as much as I love Boy Meets World.) I can admit that it does have it’s flaws. A major one I’ve noticed is that some of the programs that came out during that magical time are so batshit crazy, that it’s not possible to describe them without sounding like I’m having a psychotic episode.

You know, like that game show where kids wore robot suits…and their teammates used an arcade controller to help them navigate through a maze filled with mirror monsters…and then they had to answer trivia questions from giant talking heads mounted on a wall…and AC Slater from Saved By The Bell was the host.

Not ringing any bells? Well then here’s your link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLQH175jJzI
As all great journeys do, we start at a computer. There’s a young child inserting a disk that apparently contains Masters of the Maze. Yes, it’s the TV game show that fits entirely on a 3 ½ inch floppy!

It certainly looks like a game that would come on a 3 1/2 inch floppy.

It certainly looks like a game that would come on a 3 1/2 inch floppy.

We’re treated to a brilliant display of 90′s CGI in an intro, featuring the Lady of the Maze unenthusiastically welcoming us to Maze Island and giving us a tour of it’s features. The Mirror Man! The Ice Cave! The Chamber of Knowledge and Lightning Mountain! Each one, more pathetic looking than the last! It’s a sad state of affairs, luckily we’ve got Mario Lopez to tackle hosting duties. Yes, before he sought out America’s Best Dance crew, he was simply searching for which pair of kids could successfully navigate a maze that looks like something a prop warehouse vomited up.

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Before the first round gets underway, Mario takes time out to remind everyone that they’re winners. I imagine he gave a similar speech to Dustin Diamond every day before shooting Saved by the Bell. For the first round, the kids have to identify a picture as it slowly gets unscrambled. It’s pretty standard kid’s game show fare, though the Master of the Maze version has contestants buzzing in by shooting the screen with their laser podiums. Because lasers are super cool and buzzers are for losers or something.

The round goes about as well as you’d expect. Here’s some of the pictures, along with some of the answers the kids gave.

STAIRS!

STAIRS!

GOOSE!

GOOSE!

KEY!

KEY!

BUTTER!

BUTTER!

It should be noted that the last three of those were all guesses from the same kid, Demetrius. He staged an incredible comeback in the Speed Round that followed, and won the right to enter the maze. I’d say his opponent should be ashamed, but I’m pretty sure the game was rigged. They gave him points for identifying a woolly mammoth as an elephant, and a bulldozer as a tractor. This kind of shit wouldn’t happen on Get the Picture. To Mario Lopez’ credit, he comes off as the most caring game show host of all time, as he appears to be fighting back tears while informing the eliminated contestant that she won’t be moving on.

But there’s no time for sadness Slater, it’s time for us to enter the Maze! Demetrius runs the maze, while his partner, Travon directs him through using a joystick that will make different parts of his suit vibrate. This is not the easiest game to describe in text, I highly recommend just watching whole thing. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see!

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As our brave contestant makes his way through the maze, with no assistance from his partner who can’t seem to understand that directing him to go up for down isn’t going to help, he eventually encounters the Mirror Man. He’s a ferocious beast and the only way to stop him is by answering one of his brain teasing riddles like…”Name a TV game show”

How very meta of you Mirror Man.

How very meta of you Mirror Man.

Somehow the Mirror Man is defeated and it’s on to the Ice Cave. It’s a strange and mysterious place full of many dangers and pitfalls. And TV’s haphazardly mounted on walls, as they apparently ran out of money when building it.

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Unfortunately for Demetrius, the only way to gain access to the Ice Cave is by correctly identifying a picture as it unscrambles. Oh no, his only weakness! As you can probably expect, Demetrius fails miserably and is forced to take a more dangerous path through the Ice Cave. Travon proves to be of absolutely no help to him and only seems to be capable of repeating some of the stuff Mario Lopez says. Demetrius is left to stumble around aimlessly until he finally finds his way out. It’s an excruciating 45 seconds of television, but mercifully, it’s almost over.

Demetrius’ final stop is the Chamber of Knowledge, where he must answer a question from the Guardian of the Gate of Imagination. It turns out to be a true of false question, claiming that the average caveman lived to be 18 years old. What that has to do with imagination, I have no idea, but the guardian appeared to be in the middle of choking to death, so I guess I’ll let it slide.

I guess it's hard to make the sign for choking when you don't have any hands.

I guess it’s hard to make the sign for choking when you don’t have any hands.

Demetrius remarkably gets the question right, and begins his slow ascent up Lightning Mountain, which appears to be little more than a few flights of stairs. Demetrius places his power stick in the proper place and stops the clock, final time: 3 minutes and 31 seconds of my life that I’ll never get back. Mario congratulates Demetrius on his performance and then blatantly lies to Travon about how great a job he did navigating for him. Everyone’s a winner!

Well, everyone except the other team. Unbelievably the managed to do worse than Demetrius and Travon, finishing two secondly slower. It’s such a terrible performance that I’m not even going to cover it, mostly because I really want to stop watching this show. We end with Demetrius standing triumphantly atop Lightning Mountain, as Mario explains his prize (A $500 shopping spree at The Sharper Image) before telling him that he gets to go on a special journey. That journey involves being turned into a silver ball and following the Lady of the Maze down what appears to be a black hole, along with a random falcon and the sun.

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Yeah…so Master of the Maze was a bit weird.  I certainly can’t call it a good show, but it’s a nice attempt.  Unfortunately, it ran right around the same time as Legends of the Hidden Temple, which also involved working your way through a sort of maze.  Legends looked to have at least three times the budget of Masters of the Maze, so it’s like comparing Disney World to Six Flags.  I’m sure you kids will have fun at Six Flags, but they don’t get to meet Mickey.  Just like I’m sure they’ll enjoy a $500 shopping spree at Sharper Image, but they won’t be getting a chance to Space Camp.  Although you do apparently get to go to space at the end of the show….you know what, let’s just stop talking about this.

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