Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Crystal Maze: A Brief Obsessive Guide

I've commented on The Crystal Maze in the past, doing two columns analysing the various challenges from the first season's Aztec and Industrial Zones, but I didn't feel the format worked as well as I was hoping. So rather than continue, I kind of held off for a bit, keeping it at the back of my mind while I was working on other things. Eventually, I decided to follow the same format I used for my recent Survivor guide, making a couple of changes I was planning on making for future guides anyway.

So here we are. To cut a long story short, it's basically the same exact format with each challenge being given a rating from zero to five stars based on its design and entertainment value, and with the additional commentary now appearing as more text instead of in separate boxes. (I've kept the same basic format for the descriptions themselves, with each challenge being described in one paragraph.) Two other important things worth noting here are that none of the challenge titles I've used are official, as the show is too old to track down the relevant information, and the challenges are sorted by where in the Maze (in one of the show's five zones, or in the Crystal Dome finale) each challenge appears. Regarding this change, I figure this is the sort of show where you're more likely to remember that a game came from, say, the Medieval Zone than to remember it was in season four, making it easier to search for particular challenges.

The format I'm using for this guide probably isn't going to be continued in future - I've got a few different alternate formats in the works that I want to develop into a more comprehensive coverage instead of a "challenge title, big block of text, next challenge" design, while also keeping it suitable for various shows and subgenres. I mean, sure, this format works for shows like this, but what about for a show like The Amazing Race, where a bunch of challenges can often be described in one sentence? Or Wipeout, with its combination of recurring rounds, recurring obstacles within those rounds, and various one-off obstacles and variations on a theme? (Actually, if you've got any ideas how I could cover Wipeout without a bunch of repetition, I'd be very grateful.)

I'd love to hear what you have to say about this guide. Did I get the grading right? Was I too harsh on some games and not harsh enough on others? Are there any descriptions I completely butchered? Feel free to comment, and I'll endeavour to reply.