Review: Dara O’Briain’s Go 8-Bit


Go 8-Bit is one of those odd programmes that shouldn’t be anywhere near as entertaining as it is. After all, why watch video games being played by celebrity comedians when you could play them yourselves?

Alas, Dara O’Briain’s Go 8-Bit proves this wrong. It is a brilliantly worked show, with O’Briain fronting as main presenter, alongside regular team captains Steve McNeil (a self-proclaimed gaming expert) and Sam Pamphilon (self-proclaimed gaming muggle), as they battle it out alongside one celebrity guest across a variety of classic games, the celebrity guest’s favourite games, and also an unusual or left-field game which is given a live action twist. Actual gaming expert Ellie Gibson also gives us some behind-the-scenes scope and lowdown on each title being played.

What really makes the show succeed, however, is the charisma and passion of the guests. You can always see how much the classic games mean to them; check out the clip of David James vs. Susan Calman on Tekken for a perfect example. Equally entertaining, however, is when the guest somehow manages to struggle on their supposed ‘favourite game’ – Dave Gorman trying and failing miserably to play Toybox Turbos was one of the funniest moments of the series, probably due to Gorman’s hilarious self-deprecation and comedic timing. And finally, you get those truly bonkers occasions when no-one quite has any idea what they are doing, somehow manages to muddle through, and even win the challenge. Sam Pamphilon managing to pause Pac-Man, then finally un-pause it when everyone else had ‘died’ and being declared the winner, is just so surreal it beggars belief. Or alternatively, the entire segment of a confused Bob Mortimer playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is well worth a watch.

The modern section gives them a chance to cast their eye over some of the biggest recent releases in gaming, the likes of Star Wars Battlefront, LittleBigPlanet 3 or Rocket League. However, the most endearing thing about the show is how it gives air time to lesser-known brilliant modern gaming studios, usually those of the Indie variety that don’t tend to dominate the top of gaming charts, don’t have fancy sponsorship, or big-budget huge names attached to them. Games include likes of Nidhogg, a side-scrolling classic which involves defeating any who stand in your way with a rapier to reach the goal of being eaten by a dragon, or Gang Beasts, which is truly impossible to describe without sounding like a maniac.

The live-action twists make for a great finale, and O’Briain and Gibson as a presenting team make an excellent duo, managing to combine interesting facts and background knowledge with a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the contestants. It isn’t a highbrow show by any means, but it does give you that warm nostalgic feeling that only playing a video game classic can. The audience participation in regards to scoring, and also in the finale is a very cool extra touch as well.

Dara O’Briain’s Go 8-Bit is a roaring success. Hopefully it gets commissioned for a second series, as it’s one of the best random shows Dave have produced for a while. It just works, and it works beautifully.

Dara O’Briain’s Go 8-Bit aired on Dave. To watch the show, follow this link:


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