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Commercial Break
Curb Your Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 14, 2005   |   Episode 12 (Show Archive)  

   
While digging through all of my old magazines for inspiration and reference I discovered that there are a lot of awesomely great 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 them know what I think of their adverts! Looks like we have four of them right here ...
Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition (PS1/Sat)
Defunct Games is not the first video game website or magazine to make fun of this Bust-A-Move 2 advertisement, plenty of other people have made jokes and laughed at Acclaims terrible, terrible design. But if we're going to do a show about bad advertising we need to include everything, even if that means stuff that everybody else has talked about. When you look at this commercial it's easy to see why everybody gives Bust-A-Move a hard time and as far as I can tell, it fits here perfectly.

In case you've never played Bust-A-Move (or Puzzle Bobble as it's known in other parts of the world) it's an addictive puzzler that features one of the cute "lizard" characters from the Bubble Bobble universe shooting colored bubbles into the air and matching them up. When you look at this commercial you'll see several pictures that illustrate exactly what I'm talking about ... but I have a hunch you'll never look at them because you'll be too busy gawking at the horrible (and painful) picture of the man keeping his eyes open.

If this man reminds you of A Clockwork Orange then you're not alone, but regardless of how great that movie was this commercial is one of the worst you will ever see. I guess the idea behind the man is that there is no time to blink, but when I see it I wonder if the game is putting him to sleep. His mouth is open and it looks like he's yawning, which doesn't go a long way to explain how fun and addicting the game is. What's worse than the large picture of the man with the toothpicks? The almost twenty smaller versions that litter the background! If anything this commercial is going to scare people away, it kind of makes me sick thinking that there was somebody who needed money bad enough to put little pieces of wood around his eyes and have pictures taken.

Nyko Extreme Gaming Accessories
I'm sure this isn't what they intended, but doesn't this Nyko commercial make it look like they are making accessories for people with Down Syndrome?? They say it's ending "sensory deprivation," but I think they are just referencing Corky on Life Goes On! I don't want to alienate our readers afflicted with Down Syndrome, but let's be clear that this kind of advertising does nothing for Nyko or their Game Boy Advance products.

But as much as I would like to dwell on the poor kid in the picture, I have to note that these products may not be as useful as they appear. For example, let's talk about the Worm Light Plus, the product on the right side of the advert. I suppose the idea of having a little light you can move is a good one (especially with the Game Boy Advance being so dark and hard to see), but can't we do it without the product taking up part of the screen? That picture suggests that the accessory blocks a good chunk of the middle which might be kind of annoying if you are trying to see everything. And then there's the Super Magni-Light which looks more like the Pope Mobile at a high school football game.

Of course, the silliest part of this advertisement has to be the Shock 'N' Rock, a device that adds "stereo sound and vibration feedback". Yeah, that's JUST what we need in our hand held something, something that fights our grip. And was there really anybody out there looking to make their Game Boy Advance music louder? It's not like this is a PSP and pushing forth licensed music and CD-quality sound ... we're talking about the Game Boy Advance! With all these negatives you have to wonder what Nyko was thinking.

Blood Storm
Ever wonder why Johnny Cage didn't show up in Mortal Kombat 3? He was such a big part of the first two Kombat tournaments, but when the third installment hit he was nowhere to be scene. Was there not enough room? Were the people at Midway tired of his character? Did they want to focus on newer characters? Nope, the truth is that Johnny Cage brought it on himself. Need proof, just take a look at this commercial for BloodStorm, the completely forgotten arcade game by completely forgettable game maker Strata.

In the small text this advertisement reads, "Daniel Pesina, who starred as Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat, has switched to BloodStorm." There he is busting a pose with his Johnny Cage look (complete with stupid looking shoes and no shirt), giving Midway every reason to forget about his character when MK3 came around. Did Strata really think that having somebody that "acted" in Mortal Kombat would be enough to convince people that their game is better? Clearly this plan didn't work, after all I wouldn't be surprised if this was the first time a lot of you even heard the name "BloodStorm."

Mortal Kombat has since moved on to the 3D scene, now offering online game play and strange mini-games. BloodStorm? Well, it didn't exactly catch the world on fire and, even with the support of Johnny Cage, just wasn't popular enough to spawn a sequel (or a TV show, cartoon, movie, etc.). See those icons on the side of the arcade machine? The only thing good about this commercial are the icons on the side of the arcade cabinet (of which my personal favorite is the bottom one that looks like a mushroom cloud). It's going to take a lot more than Johnny Cage to convince me that BloodStorm requires any attention at all.

Shaq Fu (SNES/Gen)
Life was never good for Shaq Fu. Even before this 1 on 1 fighting game was released critics were already lining up to cut this gentle giant down to size. These days the hyperbole has only gotten worse, with people calling it the worst fighting game ever created and one of the biggest mistakes Electronic Arts has ever made. But Shaq Fu is neither of those things. It may be a terrible fighting game, but it's hardly the worst (that goes to Mortal Kombat Advance). And EA has a whole career of strange (and miserable) mistakes, including the recent Catwoman game. But we can't forget how bad Shaq Fu actually was, something that is clearly demonstrated in this terrible advertisement.

This strange commercial gives you the option of writing down five people you don't like and having you cross them off the list once you've exacted revenge. I suspect getting revenge is nothing more than giving them this Shaq Fu game for Christmas. Or if you're real mean, you can give them the game AND a copy of the Shaq Fu album, Shaq Fu: Da Return! That's right, there was an album to support this, with such well-written raps as, "I wanna girl like my dear, that's my mom dukes, someone to kick back with no fake no juice, beautiful cars cool collective, settle down chill out that's my objective check it." With rhymes that hit that hard I can't imagine why Shaq's game wasn't more popular.

The problem with this commercial is that it's almost daring you to buy it. "You'll get yours" doesn't sound like a good thing if you ask me, and now that we know what Shaq Fu was all about it clearly wasn't a good thing. One thing that troubles me is that there aren't any pictures of the game on this ad; it's really nothing more than words and lines. By not including pictures (or even a description) you're really asking people to buy the game on the merit of Shaq's name. Are you the type of person that would buy a game just because of Shaq? Well, you'll never do that again!
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