Let me introduce you to: Nivel X
Nightingale Offline
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(I don't know why I keep remembering these things at work. I blame the break room sandwiches - the mayonnaise looks older than me).

[Image: Nivel_X_Logo.png]

This is gonna be a rather odd post, because it will be covering a subject matter I'm sure none of you have ever even heard about before, yet I hope to at least pick your interest on it by the end of this.

Nivel X was a TV show that started airing in March of 1997 and would only cease to exist when the whole network it was in closed down, around December of 2006. As the name sorta implies, it was a videogame-focused show... not a lot of those before then and not a lot since (not surprising, considering it was already clashing with the dawn of the YouTube era on its way out). This was a show that shaped many childhoods and turned many a kid into gamers (including yours truly) so let's talk about it properly...

I think that what made the show so worthwhile (even without all the nostalgia that's permanently attached to it... -and trust me, I grew up with it-) is that, for a lot of us in the pre-internet era, this was the definitive source for video-games and vg-related junk. The people behind it made an extremely good job turning what would otherwise have been a neat but forgettable idea into the most inviting thing on the air. If those reviewing content on it told you you absolutely had to get the game they were dissecting, you really didn't have much of a choice on the matter... their arguments were that compelling and I don't regret ever following them (particularly during the times of renting cartridges, where mistakes were very costly indeed).

But even with all of that aside, there's still some undeniable charm surrounding the whole thing that's hard to escape from. This is truly a product of its time and a show like this just wouldn't work today. Even if you were to take the aforementioned YouTube out of the equation (and that would render half of the show useless in one fell swoop, considering YT does what the show did and does it better) there were still many other things shown during the whole hour the program ran for that simply would have no place in today's TV.

Like, honest to God, there's been some really odd ideas coming out of here... my favorite being a section in which kids from the audience would e-mail the hosts asking them for guides on how to solve the games they were stuck on... or cheats. Look, the first one was actually very neat, because they showed you gameplay and provided commentary on how to help you, but the second one was just SO wasteful; the host would read your question aloud, then tell you the cheat code you wanted to know without repeting it once (so you better had listened!) and then move on... but keep in mind that those were E-MAIL questions - you could have looked them up yourself!

There was also a mail contest (with physical letters) in which they would pick four or five fan letters a week from a bin and give away systems to those fortunate enough to have their submissions picked up. And those were not cheap toys! Some of the prizes I remember being the most common included SNES and SEGA Genesis consoles, Gameboy Colors (plus games!) and even a freaking Nintendo 64 (in 1999!). I must have sent a dozen of letters between 1998 and 2002. But alas, it was not to be.

That's truly wonderful, but I learned from the experience that everything that show did well had an equally... questionable decision next to it to counter-balance it. Again, this is because this was such a product of its time, but they would go and dedicate some 5-10 minutes to just browsing the internet - and would recommend you websites to visit, sometimes with the recommendations/requests from the viewers (this was not bad, considering most of us were still fighting with dial-up speeds... but the thing that amuses me to not end is that they would freely advertise piracy sites on there, like it was nothing. Just a beautiful thing all-around).

No episode of Nivel X would be completed without "El Invitado del Día", though, a small section in which a random kid from the audience would get a ride to a local arcade store and show-off their skills in any game of their choosing. The editing of this section was sickening to say the least, so it probably included a lot of messing up and several re-tries... but dang it, it also introduced me to many good games I would end up adoring and wasting entire allowances worth of tokens to.

But even that was secondary to what -many would agree- was the main event and the whole reason we watched Nivel X for: The Daytona USA (later Scud Race) tournaments.

These were a godsend for any arcade junkies who had honed their skills for years and just wanted to show them off. They were also pretty miraculous for those of us who were too poor to afford keeping up with the ever-growing gaming market, as the rewards were once again very generous... you could walk away of the competition with a brand-new Gamecube or Dreamcast if you did well enough, which I think was just insane, given this was around the release date for both of those (second and third place would wound up with a Sony Playstation 1 and a SEGA Genesis 3, which were still pretty dang good prizes to get, given the prices they went for).

One thing that I always found kinda sad is that, despite it being rather hunble, the show didn't keep up with you much at all. As soon as a new system had come to light and replaced the older one, all attention would be shifted to it, effectively ending any and all attention to its predecessor. In practice, what this meant is that consoles like SEGA Dreamcast and Nintendo Gamecube would be reviewed to death, while all coverage to the Genesis and N64 would be stopped immediately. Understandable, but sad... a big part of watching the show was knowing what games to get for your system and getting clues on how to beat them.

Another thing that didn't stand the test of progress much was the cheat-code section - a small (normally 1 & 2 minutes long at best) section in which you were shown footage of certain games with commentary on top, teaching you how to perform cheats on them-. This was never such a hot idea, given we have had sites dedicated to cheats since the late 90s, but it was appreciated in a way.

And speaking of sad, I mentioned at the beginning of this... thing (I hesitate to call it an article) how the show went under when its whole network did... and yes, that's precisely what happened; however, the problem was that, when what would enventually be the last episode came about, no-one was really sure if new episodes would be made or not, so the hosts didn't bid farewell. This confused many of us for years to come and it wouldn't be until more than a decade after the fact that the people at the helm would explain what had gone on there (kind of proves how relevant the show was when it was talked about ten years later, huh?).

I could truly go on for days upon days about this, since we have barely scratched the surface... but for the sake of both keeping the nostalgia doors from breaking open and not testing your patience any further, I'll end this here.

I'd really like to hear your opinion on the show based on what you have read about it here, though... or maybe not about this specific program, but some other, similar ones you watched when you were a kid growing up (like Video Arcade, I think it was called?).

The whole video is in Spanish, but this is about how it looked like (not many clips at all, by the way. This one is very well hidden onto the shelves of history):


Oh and I couldn't finishing this off without at least mentioning Zona Virtual:


Four or five guys browsing the internet at their own leisure, with a chat window and lots of free time. Surely that counts as a TV show? And it lasted four years.
When leaves have fallen.
And skies turned to grey.
The night keeps on closing in on the day.
A nightingale sings his song of farewell.
You better hide from her freezing hell. ~ Ice Queen, Within Temptation.


#1
Nightingale Offline
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(I don't know why I keep remembering these things at work. I blame the break room sandwiches - the mayonnaise looks older than me).

[Image: Nivel_X_Logo.png]

This is gonna be a rather odd post, because it will be covering a subject matter I'm sure none of you have ever even heard about before, yet I hope to at least pick your interest on it by the end of this.

Nivel X was a TV show that started airing in March of 1997 and would only cease to exist when the whole network it was in closed down, around December of 2006. As the name sorta implies, it was a videogame-focused show... not a lot of those before then and not a lot since (not surprising, considering it was already clashing with the dawn of the YouTube era on its way out). This was a show that shaped many childhoods and turned many a kid into gamers (including yours truly) so let's talk about it properly...

I think that what made the show so worthwhile (even without all the nostalgia that's permanently attached to it... -and trust me, I grew up with it-) is that, for a lot of us in the pre-internet era, this was the definitive source for video-games and vg-related junk. The people behind it made an extremely good job turning what would otherwise have been a neat but forgettable idea into the most inviting thing on the air. If those reviewing content on it told you you absolutely had to get the game they were dissecting, you really didn't have much of a choice on the matter... their arguments were that compelling and I don't regret ever following them (particularly during the times of renting cartridges, where mistakes were very costly indeed).

But even with all of that aside, there's still some undeniable charm surrounding the whole thing that's hard to escape from. This is truly a product of its time and a show like this just wouldn't work today. Even if you were to take the aforementioned YouTube out of the equation (and that would render half of the show useless in one fell swoop, considering YT does what the show did and does it better) there were still many other things shown during the whole hour the program ran for that simply would have no place in today's TV.

Like, honest to God, there's been some really odd ideas coming out of here... my favorite being a section in which kids from the audience would e-mail the hosts asking them for guides on how to solve the games they were stuck on... or cheats. Look, the first one was actually very neat, because they showed you gameplay and provided commentary on how to help you, but the second one was just SO wasteful; the host would read your question aloud, then tell you the cheat code you wanted to know without repeting it once (so you better had listened!) and then move on... but keep in mind that those were E-MAIL questions - you could have looked them up yourself!

There was also a mail contest (with physical letters) in which they would pick four or five fan letters a week from a bin and give away systems to those fortunate enough to have their submissions picked up. And those were not cheap toys! Some of the prizes I remember being the most common included SNES and SEGA Genesis consoles, Gameboy Colors (plus games!) and even a freaking Nintendo 64 (in 1999!). I must have sent a dozen of letters between 1998 and 2002. But alas, it was not to be.

That's truly wonderful, but I learned from the experience that everything that show did well had an equally... questionable decision next to it to counter-balance it. Again, this is because this was such a product of its time, but they would go and dedicate some 5-10 minutes to just browsing the internet - and would recommend you websites to visit, sometimes with the recommendations/requests from the viewers (this was not bad, considering most of us were still fighting with dial-up speeds... but the thing that amuses me to not end is that they would freely advertise piracy sites on there, like it was nothing. Just a beautiful thing all-around).

No episode of Nivel X would be completed without "El Invitado del Día", though, a small section in which a random kid from the audience would get a ride to a local arcade store and show-off their skills in any game of their choosing. The editing of this section was sickening to say the least, so it probably included a lot of messing up and several re-tries... but dang it, it also introduced me to many good games I would end up adoring and wasting entire allowances worth of tokens to.

But even that was secondary to what -many would agree- was the main event and the whole reason we watched Nivel X for: The Daytona USA (later Scud Race) tournaments.

These were a godsend for any arcade junkies who had honed their skills for years and just wanted to show them off. They were also pretty miraculous for those of us who were too poor to afford keeping up with the ever-growing gaming market, as the rewards were once again very generous... you could walk away of the competition with a brand-new Gamecube or Dreamcast if you did well enough, which I think was just insane, given this was around the release date for both of those (second and third place would wound up with a Sony Playstation 1 and a SEGA Genesis 3, which were still pretty dang good prizes to get, given the prices they went for).

One thing that I always found kinda sad is that, despite it being rather hunble, the show didn't keep up with you much at all. As soon as a new system had come to light and replaced the older one, all attention would be shifted to it, effectively ending any and all attention to its predecessor. In practice, what this meant is that consoles like SEGA Dreamcast and Nintendo Gamecube would be reviewed to death, while all coverage to the Genesis and N64 would be stopped immediately. Understandable, but sad... a big part of watching the show was knowing what games to get for your system and getting clues on how to beat them.

Another thing that didn't stand the test of progress much was the cheat-code section - a small (normally 1 & 2 minutes long at best) section in which you were shown footage of certain games with commentary on top, teaching you how to perform cheats on them-. This was never such a hot idea, given we have had sites dedicated to cheats since the late 90s, but it was appreciated in a way.

And speaking of sad, I mentioned at the beginning of this... thing (I hesitate to call it an article) how the show went under when its whole network did... and yes, that's precisely what happened; however, the problem was that, when what would enventually be the last episode came about, no-one was really sure if new episodes would be made or not, so the hosts didn't bid farewell. This confused many of us for years to come and it wouldn't be until more than a decade after the fact that the people at the helm would explain what had gone on there (kind of proves how relevant the show was when it was talked about ten years later, huh?).

I could truly go on for days upon days about this, since we have barely scratched the surface... but for the sake of both keeping the nostalgia doors from breaking open and not testing your patience any further, I'll end this here.

I'd really like to hear your opinion on the show based on what you have read about it here, though... or maybe not about this specific program, but some other, similar ones you watched when you were a kid growing up (like Video Arcade, I think it was called?).

The whole video is in Spanish, but this is about how it looked like (not many clips at all, by the way. This one is very well hidden onto the shelves of history):


Oh and I couldn't finishing this off without at least mentioning Zona Virtual:


Four or five guys browsing the internet at their own leisure, with a chat window and lots of free time. Surely that counts as a TV show? And it lasted four years.
Quote
Nightingale Offline
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I actually went back and re-watched all the available episodes on YT after posting this and... man, this hasn't aged well at all!

The reviews are only minutes long and they are heavily unprofessional (to the point your average 2006 YT video would actually be better)... that said, they were really ahead of their time and are still fun to watch, even if only to cringe a little under the nostalgia umbrella.

The rest of the show has withstood the test of time far better, actually. And it's still kind of a treat to watch!

As for Zona Virtual... I'd be dammed! It's actually not that terrible.

But they really needed mods in the chat... I read thru a bunch of not-so-tasteful jokes in there and a large variety of incredibly random offtopic. Man, I would have totally watched this back in the early 2000s... I didn't even have internet back then, so I imagine it'd have been a nice treat.
When leaves have fallen.
And skies turned to grey.
The night keeps on closing in on the day.
A nightingale sings his song of farewell.
You better hide from her freezing hell. ~ Ice Queen, Within Temptation.


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Nightingale Offline
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I actually went back and re-watched all the available episodes on YT after posting this and... man, this hasn't aged well at all!

The reviews are only minutes long and they are heavily unprofessional (to the point your average 2006 YT video would actually be better)... that said, they were really ahead of their time and are still fun to watch, even if only to cringe a little under the nostalgia umbrella.

The rest of the show has withstood the test of time far better, actually. And it's still kind of a treat to watch!

As for Zona Virtual... I'd be dammed! It's actually not that terrible.

But they really needed mods in the chat... I read thru a bunch of not-so-tasteful jokes in there and a large variety of incredibly random offtopic. Man, I would have totally watched this back in the early 2000s... I didn't even have internet back then, so I imagine it'd have been a nice treat.
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Mr EliteL Offline
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Never heard of this TV Show. Quite cool to hear there was a programme like this going on during those years. I'm surprised it lasted that long. XD Don't think we had anything like this, perhaps we did and I forgot/never watched them. Magazines and talking with other people were the main methods of getting to know about games around then for me.

For Nivel X though, seemed like they weren't strictly about video games, as they were doing other things and what have you. They probably had the freedom to do whatever they wanted with no competition? Since I don't speak Spanish, I don't know how often they were talking about video games, apart from when there was a game being shown/played. Still, probably something I would've watched back then. Like you mentioned though, parts of it hasn't aged well. I only skipped through the first video, watched bits of the gaming and other select moments. There was a Top Ten I noticed, was that for the week or something? Haven't seen any of the second you provided yet.
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Never heard of this TV Show. Quite cool to hear there was a programme like this going on during those years. I'm surprised it lasted that long. XD Don't think we had anything like this, perhaps we did and I forgot/never watched them. Magazines and talking with other people were the main methods of getting to know about games around then for me.

For Nivel X though, seemed like they weren't strictly about video games, as they were doing other things and what have you. They probably had the freedom to do whatever they wanted with no competition? Since I don't speak Spanish, I don't know how often they were talking about video games, apart from when there was a game being shown/played. Still, probably something I would've watched back then. Like you mentioned though, parts of it hasn't aged well. I only skipped through the first video, watched bits of the gaming and other select moments. There was a Top Ten I noticed, was that for the week or something? Haven't seen any of the second you provided yet.
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Nightingale Offline
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Quote:Magazines and talking with other people were the main methods of getting to know about games around then for me.

Funny how it was the complete opposite for us here (I'm in Argentina, by the way): Magazines were very much a thing, but people chose to learn about the latest developments of the industry by watching the show.

I still have a ton of magazines, though Tongue

Quote:For Nivel X though, seemed like they weren't strictly about video games, as they were doing other things and what have you.

On the episode I linked above, the only non-gaming-reated part was a trip to a museum celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Thinkpad. But I do agree, there were other sections thrown in there as well, like the internet-browsing part I wrote about on the original post.

Quote:They probably had the freedom to do whatever they wanted with no competition?

More or less, yes.

Quote:Since I don't speak Spanish, I don't know how often they were talking about video games, apart from when there was a game being shown/played. Still, probably something I would've watched back then.

I'd have absolutely no problem transcribing and translating the episode for you guys to read-thru, should you chose to accept the offer.

Quote:There was a Top Ten I noticed, was that for the week or something?

Apparently it was! But I just don't remember that being a thing at all. Maybe it started there, maybe I just have that kind of memory Tongue

Thanks a lot for your feedback, my friend Smile
When leaves have fallen.
And skies turned to grey.
The night keeps on closing in on the day.
A nightingale sings his song of farewell.
You better hide from her freezing hell. ~ Ice Queen, Within Temptation.


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Nightingale Offline
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Quote:Magazines and talking with other people were the main methods of getting to know about games around then for me.

Funny how it was the complete opposite for us here (I'm in Argentina, by the way): Magazines were very much a thing, but people chose to learn about the latest developments of the industry by watching the show.

I still have a ton of magazines, though Tongue

Quote:For Nivel X though, seemed like they weren't strictly about video games, as they were doing other things and what have you.

On the episode I linked above, the only non-gaming-reated part was a trip to a museum celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Thinkpad. But I do agree, there were other sections thrown in there as well, like the internet-browsing part I wrote about on the original post.

Quote:They probably had the freedom to do whatever they wanted with no competition?

More or less, yes.

Quote:Since I don't speak Spanish, I don't know how often they were talking about video games, apart from when there was a game being shown/played. Still, probably something I would've watched back then.

I'd have absolutely no problem transcribing and translating the episode for you guys to read-thru, should you chose to accept the offer.

Quote:There was a Top Ten I noticed, was that for the week or something?

Apparently it was! But I just don't remember that being a thing at all. Maybe it started there, maybe I just have that kind of memory Tongue

Thanks a lot for your feedback, my friend Smile
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