Dave Perry meets Super Mario 64

We've had a lot of anniversaries recently, with Sonic and Metroid standing out as key examples. However, one event - which was in danger of going uncelebrated until we spotted this tweet - is a seminal moment in UK TV history, and it all revolved around a challenge on Super Mario 64.

For those of you not old enough to recall - or those of you who live outside of the UK - allow us to set the scene. GamesMaster was a popular '90s TV show about video games which aired on UK television. The first show of its kind to achieve serious mainstream appeal, it was required viewing for any self-respecting gamer of that period. Hosted by the irrepressible Dominik Diamond, GamesMaster's format included news, reviews and - most importantly of all - challenges on the games of the period, many of which featured celebrity guests.

While Diamond was the lynchpin of the show - something which was evidenced by the fact that when he was replaced by Dexter Fletcher (then an actor but now a director), fans were in uproar and Diamond was quickly reinstated the following series - there were many individuals involved with the success of the series, one of which was David Perry (no, not the one who founded Shiny Entertainment, before you ask).

Perry had written for several gaming publications at the time and was a self-confessed video game expert, and had a reputation as being one of the UK's best players - he even branded himself "The Games Animal" and freely admits that part of his persona was being cocky and big-headed, comparing his approach to WWF wrestlers of the period. Perry was involved behind the scenes at GamesMaster and was regularly seen on-camera dispensing tips and offering commentary during the challenges.

While Diamond and Perry's working relationship was cordial enough at first, it quickly descended into bitterness. Speaking to Eurogamer in an exclusive interview, Diamond said:

The way I treated Dave on screen is not something I am particularly proud of. It was perilously close to bullying. As much as we felt Dave was being a dick, with this whole Games Animal thing and thinking the wheel was square before he got his hands on it - I think we humiliated the guy. Yes, at the time, he was a dick. But jeez, no one was a bigger dick during the '90s than me.

This feud culminated in the infamous Super Mario 64 challenge, which aired during the GamesMaster Christmas special on the 19th of December, 1996. Co-commentators Perry and Kirk Ewing were supposed to take part in a series of quizzes to test their gaming knowledge, and there was apparently a disagreement regarding the questions for a round on beat 'em ups - the exact details of which both Diamond and Perry have differing opinions on. However, the end result was Ewing and Perry facing off on the Cool, Cool Mountain course of Super Mario 64 - a game which had, at that point, not been released in Europe. We'll let you watch the results.

Perry insists it was a set up. He had publicly stated he would not be buying an N64 until it was officially available in the UK, so this was effectively the first time he had ever played Super Mario 64. It was also the last time that Perry would appear on the show.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Diamond is adamant that there wasn't any foul play:

Oh rubbish, absolute rubbish. He wasn't set up. Kirk didn't give a s***. Kirk was stoned all the time. Kirk and I were goofing off all the time. Dave did all kinds of things behind the scenes to try and cheat, because he was the only person in the history of the show to take it too seriously. It was a bit of fun. Dave was hoist by his own petard.

Perry admits that he could have perhaps handled the situation better, and acknowledges that the event was "big news" precisely because of his Games Animal persona:

I probably should have just laughed. It's the fact I was obviously upset and angry. Nobody had seen me get beaten before and they liked that. I reacted ungraciously and that's what made it big news. I was just gutted because I really cared about GamesMaster. I saw it as my baby. Then it turned round and bit me on the arse.

Diamond may have a different opinion to Perry on the details of that fateful Christmas special, but he's made it clear several times that he isn't proud of how he handled himself during this time, or the comments he directed at his former co-worker:

I made some disgusting comments about Dave. I did an interview with Edge magazine and said the most reprehensible things; unforgivable, nasty things which he never deserved. I hate the fact I did that. Let's all just move on.

Today, Diamond lives in Canada where he hosts Jack FM Calgary's morning radio show. Perry's post-GamesMaster career has seen him found his own magazine publishing company, and he now lives in his native Torquay where he runs a tattoo parlour.

In our eyes both of these individuals are true gaming legends, and knowing that this seminal TV event is now 20 year old makes us feel very old indeed. Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.