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Commercial Break
Bad Advertising, Mindfreak
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 12, 2006   |   Episode 19 (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 ...
Hudson's Game Boy Games
For this episode of the Commercial Break we are going to start with an advertisement that has confused me for nearly 15 years. This advertisement tells you not to worry about being grounded, just grab your nearest Game Boy and have as much fun as you normally would. But what is this guy missing out on? The picture features a television no more than a foot away from him, a Super Nintendo, NES games, and a phone (which can easily be hung up so that you can start taking calls again). What is this guy grounded from?

Instead of playing with his Super NES, this guy decides to grab his Game Boy and play Bonk's Adventure. I suppose that's better than Felix the Cat, but you have to admit this kid has a pretty lame collection of games. How many different copies of Adventure Island does one person need? I'm counting three just from this picture, and I wouldn't be surprised if off to the side there's a statue of Master Higgins made completely out of Hudson's Adventure Island cartridges. Perhaps it's best this kid stay in his room ... far away from the innocent people he could hurt.

But beyond the kid's terrible taste in games, beyond that gigantic 10 inch TV and beyond his ridiculously 1980s phone, this advertisement fails because of its attention to detail. This kid (who we will call loser from here on out) clearly owns a Super NES (and two really stupid games), yet those are Super Famicom controls! You can tell by the colorful buttons ... and the fact that they say "Super Famicom" right on them!! I'm sorry, but who is going to believe that you own a Super NES but imported the controls? Maybe it's not the kid that's the loser, but the person who put this advertisement together.

Cool Ball (Game Boy)
Now I don't know about you, but at first I thought this advertisement was complimenting part of my manliness. But then I read it a little closer and realized that either they're talking about some "new" video game character or they are speaking to the gamers who survived testicular cancer. It's Cool Ball, a video game character with a very unfortunate name. And it's probably safe to say that the name didn't do him any favors, either ... I have a hunch this is the first time you've even heard of this Game Boy title.

But enough with the anatomy lesson, this advertisement is more than just bawdy humor ... it's about a shiny ball with a Mohawk! With his Mr. T look in check Cool Ball (or is that Ball Cool?) is ready to show those bitches what it's like to be a badass video game hero. Actually, judging by the innocent look of his girlfriend I'm starting to doubt that this ball is very "cool." He has the sunglasses and the Mohawk, but what's with the hammer? If this guy was really cool he'd be packing some heat, he wouldn't let the local MS-13 gang have their way with her. As it is he's more of an Adequate Ball, he still has a lot of work to do before he's Cool Ball.

And while we're spending too much time looking at his picture, am I the only one that notices his freakishly long left arm?? Thanks to the hammer we get a good look at how long his right arm is, and from what I can tell it's not very long. But if you look at his virginal girlfriend you will notice that he has his left arm all the way around her ... which would mean that one arm is about 25 times longer than the other! What is that about? If this guy really does have one arm that is the entire length of his body then what's she doing with him? I mean, it doesn't even look like she has any hands! Maybe it's best we don't continue down the path that leads to the strange mating habits of the Cool Ball.

Babbage's Holiday Gift Ideas
We had to go way back in time to get this advertisement; this one came from a copy of Entertainment Weekly in 1990! That may explain why the kids are playing on an ancient looking TV, the Game Boy is so huge, and the dad is so excited about his 486 computer running Windows 3.11! However, this doesn't explain why that kid is playing the Sega Genesis with a computer controller! And why is it not hooked up to anything? This is 16 years ago, long before the days of wireless game controls!

And boy, for it being 1990 that robot dog sure does look lifelike. Oh, my mistake, that's a real dog that kid is strangling. If you can't buy that poor pup at Babbages then what is it (or the kid) doing in the shot? The mom didn't care about the computer software and the kid's games, so she was nice enough to make us dinner in the other room ... far away from where this picture was being taken. Get out of here kid, if you're not going to let video games run your life then what good are you? And while you're helping your mom set the table, let that dog out, he's just getting fleas on all of these overpriced video games!

Of course, the advertisement states that there are "gift ideas for the whole family," assuming you're a single father who likes letting the TV baby sit the kids. Where are the gift ideas for mom? You can completely miss the boat and give her The Joy of Cooking on CD-ROM or you could give her that diamond necklace she's been hinting at for the last few months. And do you think young Becky wants you to buy her the newest Barbie game on the Game Boy? Of course not, she's too interested in herself and clothing! Babbages, you talk a big game, but at the end of the day you don't know what you're talking about!

Megalit (Game Boy)
Megalit is the perfect example of bait and switch. Notice how cool the artwork is, it's got this crazy looking Viking character magically moving blocks around while the evil Saruman looks from beyond this castle on stilts. Wait, stilts?? No time for that, it's just this wicked crazy artwork introducing you to the world of Megalit ... and it's awesome! But wait, see that awesome Viking character? Well when you're playing the game that person is replaced by this silly grey ball of slime. You heard me right, you're playing with slime!!

If playing with the blob wasn't bad enough, listen to how Takara explains the best part of Megalit: "To master Megalit, you'll have to plan ahead, think fast, and keep on trying. And trying and trying and trying. That's the fun part." Oh, THAT'S the fun part?? You mean the frustration of aimlessly trying something again because the developers couldn't come up with something better than trial and error game play? What do they think this is, Splinter Cell??

So back to this Viking blob thing, Takara tries to explain the discrepancy like this: "... control a hero character who has been put under a spell. By carefully lowering bricks to the ground, the hero can solve the puzzle, break the spell, and clear the stage." So this "spell" they keep talking about, that must be the slime? And if he's out there to break the spell what does he care if he clears the stage? You know what, as far as I'm concerned this is just a cop out, they should have given us a game with that awesome looking Viking character! We get enough blobs from being sick! More Vikings!!
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