Japan really know how to create good game-shows! Takeshi’s Castle is one of the more obvious imports, complete with English dubbing from Craig Charles, but dive a little deeper and you’ll find a wealth of other shows that are just as bonkers and outrageous. From Sentosha and makeshift Dodgeball competitions, to ever-popular Dero!, it’s perhaps surprising not to find more of these making the jump over to Western audiences, especially given how popular and fun these are.
Well, fret not because Netflix is here to change all that. While Disney remains intent on region locking all of its content, Its latest gameshow import might actually be the best gameshow on the platform this year, with a mix of nail-biting tension, thrilling chases and an ever-evolving playing area.
Run for the Money is precisely what it says on the tin. 29 contestants (in this case celebrities) all join together and compete across an area the size of 26 hectares, which is about 0.26km. The location in question is Huis Ten Bosch, and it’s split into five distinct areas.
The timer constantly counts down, adding 100 yen every second, with a cash prize given to however survives the longest -but only if they make it to the end of the timer. If they’re caught before then, they leave with nothing. Of course, the more contestants that get eliminated, the harder it becomes to survive.
Standing in their way to success are 20 Hunters and the Gamemaster himself, who plots devious missions and throws curveballs right the way through the 4 episodes.
At one point, the Gamemaster adds a traitor into the midst, preventing contestants from ganging up and working together, sowing seeds of distrust in the ranks. Another time he decides to up the ante and add 100 hunters into the fold, unless a mission is completed in time. These little additions aren’t just gimmicks though, they genuinely change the way this game is played. Being forced out of hiding and constantly moving is one of the better parts of this game, and it works surprisingly well.
Adding more intrigue to the fold are the Surrender Booths, located at two different areas on the map. If a contestant has had enough, they can phone it in and take home whatever the prize money is at that given time. Of course, Hunters are lurking about so that’s easier said than done.
Aesthetically, the show is very over-the-top but it actually works quite well. The dramatic narration feels like its been ripped right from an anime, with snarling, booming retorts like “The Hunters are coming!” There are also little mini-maps to show where the Hunters and other contestants are hiding out, while the constant timer in the bottom right hand corner works to show just how well the guys are doing to survive.
The best gameshows are those with a good mix of skills, thrills and excitement. Run for the Money has all of those in abundance and you’ll find yourself compelled to sit through and watch all of these back to back. And if you do, you won’t be disappointed. This one comes highly recommended!
Verdict - 8.5/10