While digging through all of my old magazines for inspiration and reference I discovered that there are a lot of awesomely bad advertisements that have been completely forgotten. Instead of keeping this gold mine to myself I decided to talk about four of these old advertisements each and every week. And so was born the Commercial Break, a place where I can really let these companies know what I think of their adverts! Looks like we have four of them right here ...
Wolfenstein 3D (Super NES)
Do you remember Wolfenstein 3D? It was that computer game that effectively created the first-person shooter genre. It was a great game, one of the first titles that allowed you to exact revenge on Hitler and the entire Third Reich. Ah, those were the days, before EVERY first person shooter was about taking down Nazis in World War II. But this commercial doesn't want you to remember the terrible
things that happened at Auschwitz, making this Wolfenstein 3D advertisement the first game commercial to actively distance itself from the atrocities at those concentration camps.
Gone are the swastikas, gone are the guardians of the Nazi death camps, gone are the extras from Schindler's List. In this commercial the Nazi's have been completely removed, and in their place is a rainbow assortment of people who are less offensive. For instance there's that black guy that's getting shot. See, that's not offensive. Forget that there are a couple of white guys right next to him ready to cap your ass, you and I both know that this black guy needs a half dozen bullets to take him down. Apparently we live in a world where a black guy is a bigger threat than a couple of white Nazis. This really is a "virtual nightmare!"
If taking down those dangerous black folks isn't enough of a selling point for you, then perhaps those teeny tiny pictures will solidify your purchase. More Weapons, more mayhem, and yes, more fun ... why? Because they've completely taken out Nazis, a group of killers who shut the fun off every step of the way! If you still need convincing then perhaps it's time for you to check out that quote, "One of the first truly original games to come along on the SNES in a long time." You bet it's original, there isn't another game like it ... unless you consider Doom, or ...
Target: Renegade (NES)
Commercials are known for their hyperbolic tendencies; after all, they're trying to get you to buy something any way they can. But when you're talking about an 8-Bit game that features less than 100 colors on screen, 2D sprites, and extremely tiny characters, perhaps you
shouldn't say that it features "graphics so real their looks could kill." But this photo-realistic claim is hardly the worst thing about this commercial, one that I doubt helped Taito sell many units.
Let's start with the model in the middle of this advertisement. A flying kick is something to be admired, not everybody can do one with such form. But couldn't they find a guy who didn't make that silly face when he was in motion? When I look at this guy's face I am reminded that there are a number of medicines to help with his constipation, a few of which are chocolate flavored. And those pants, the ones with the elastic band at the bottom of the leg, are those ninja approved? Oh, and I think you're fly is open ... but I think you have bigger things to worry about.
The icing on the cake has to be the sound effects next to him, "Ka-pow," "Oompph," and "Arrgh!" These are "sound effects so real you can feel the punches," which is true ... if you're stuck in the middle of that crappy Batman TV show from the 1960s. Last time I got in a street fight I didn't hear anything that sounded like "ka-pow," maybe I was doing something wrong. But these must be the "realistic" sounds that you hear when you're fighting Big Bob, a guy that will beat you up if you "look at him wrong." This is a 2D brawler, Taito, I have a hunch this guy has a few better reasons to beat you up ... like the fact that you just knocked out all of his friends. What's next, the guy who will shoot you if he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed?
Shove It! (Genesis)
There are a lot of things people will do for sex. They'll work out, they'll shave every day, they'll stay employed ... but pushing crates around all day? Wouldn't it just be easier to learn how to play guitar and frequent the local "open mic" nights? But this poor box pusher isn't interested in learning how to sing or play a
sport or anything that's been proven to get the gals; he's content to push crates around all day because he's harboring a belief that this is what women like. Boy is he going to be shocked when he gets out there in the real world.
But then, maybe he's on to something; after all, he seems to be going after the single ugliest girl in "Box City." Oh sure she has a tiny waste, but just take a look at those mammoth hips! With the out of control red hair, the small face, and two extreme calves, one has to wonder if this guy has been pushing boxes around too much. This is your imagination dude; certainly you can come up with a girl hotter than this! And what's with those hearts floating around that bubble butt? Is she excreting them, or have they just floated down to there because it's the center of gravity?
And am I the only one that thinks that this guy looks better with his hard hat on? Heck, is that even him in his fantasy bubble? The smile looks the same, but that hair, those cheeks, everything ... it just doesn't looks like him. Maybe some of that money is earmarked for plastic surgery (plastic surgery that should have gone to that hideous girlfriend he has). Also, what does he need a hard hat for? He's pushing boxes around all day! He's not pushing them with his head and they aren't falling from the sky ... is it just a fashion accessory? I think that hard hat is clouding his thinking; why else would he be pushing boxes around all day to win the heart of a girl that ugly? Somebody drop a box on him, quick!
Let's talk about hubris for a second. Hubris is when you have a game to promote, but you'd rather make a full page advertisement for yourself. That may not sound like the best business decision, but it's exactly what Rocket Science did! It's not that they didn't have a game or two to promote, when this advertisement ran they had the Sega CD "classic" Loadstar: the Legend of Tunny Bodine needing a commercial or two. But they opted to steer clear from showing you anything that would make you remember Loadstar when you're in your favorite game store, instead we
The problem is, if I hadn't told you the game Rocket Science was trying to promote you would have probably never known. Loadstar is advertised in this commercial, it's at the very bottom of the page in the smallest text they could find. Even their phone number (with its extension) is larger than the name of the game. Instead of promoting the game they decided to give us a picture of one of the ugliest guy's I've ever seen. Now granted, I'm not sure if it's just the way they took his picture, or maybe even the fact that they decided to substitute his eyes for a picture of a space station, but whatever it is the guy is hard to look at without breaking up into the hard laughing that makes it hard to breathe. With his effect on his face it's hard not to notice his slicked back hair and goatee ... and when I say "notice" I really mean "make fun of."
But I didn't choose this advertisement just to make fun of the stupid looking guy (and his stupid looking goatee); I chose this commercial because it does something I truly hate. Take a look at the text at the bottom of the page (in yellow). In case you can't read it, I'll give you a sample: "D-OOYOUUREA-D ... TULLY! ... |||| | IS THAT YOUX? . )))) DO YOU R.EAD-ME ... TU-LLY?" Okay, that's enough of that! No really, I never want to have to go through another advertisement that has to purposely misspell words and use symbols like they are going out of style. What do they think this is, leet?? It's hard enough figuring out what this commercial is advertising without them trying to sabotage us. Perhaps that's why you never heard from Rocket Science again!