Home Hot Takes From the Zoo IN FOCUS: A*Mazing

IN FOCUS: A*Mazing

Back in the days of Christian rap/rock ads, there was a 30-minute slice of gameshow perfection – A*Mazing. Two schools would send their least shameful pupils to compete in a week-long battle royale of literacy and confined-space athleticism.

A*Mazing was hosted by James Sherry, a kind of “cool substitute teacher” who always looked like he was never far off sitting on a chair backwards and letting you know he was there for you, man.

Every show started off with Sherry encouraging the contestants, who were dressed like the bully from the Mighty Ducks, to publicly air their unrealistic life goals. We all believed stupid shit about our life potential at that age, but few of us have video evidence stashed away in our parent’s VHS collections.

Round one was a banger. A timer would start and the kids had to guess a word based on a series of devilish clues by the Sherry-meister. Once they guessed the word they had to spell it out on a large keyboard. Looking back on it, watching kids struggle with a keyboard must be like hardcore pornography to boomers; who still credit iPads as being the pinnacle of the downfall of society.

The maze round is when shit got serious. Teams were staggered based on their time in round 1 – this was an important life lesson where the kids learned that past failures would put them at an inevitable disadvantage in the cruel maze of life. The aim of the game was to find the letters that spelled the word from round 1.

The maze itself looked like a cross between a hoarder’s wet dream and a shroom-induced fever dream. Eclectic landscapes, creepy penguins and taunting Donkey Kongs – it was all quite surreal, but sitting at home you could only think about how badly you wanted a big fucking slice of that psychedelic wonderland.

After the first maze round, we were treated to the money shot – the preview of the prizes. One experiences profound schadenfreude while watching the kid’s faces as they find out the fruits of their labour will go towards winning a 2 CD copy of Encyclopedia Britannica for their schools only CD Rom computer. If they were lucky, perhaps a Hot Tuna or Billabong merch set was in the mix. Ballin’.

It goes without saying that the Nintendo round was the most painful round to watch. Any kid worth his jizz rag at that age would fancy themselves the world’s best Donkey Kong or Mario Kart player. So watching these kids suck like a Dyson before a rent inspection was nothing short of torture.

Finally, the winning team got a chance to re-enter the maze for a chance to win a coveted Gameboy. All they had to do was find the bonus key – which was always in the car or the fucking foam pit. Everyone knew that, so it was astounding how many kids left as toyless as the base of a junkie’s Christmas tree.

Documenting the Human Zoo is thirsty work, so if you enjoyed what you read how about buying Belle a beer, ay?

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