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Commercial Break
Everybody Loves Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 10, 2005   |   Episode 2 (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 ...
Asciiware Super NES Control
Not every advertisement we look at needs to be about game software, occasionally we can dip to the side and look at bad advertising for third party hardware. This is a print ad for Asciiware's Super NES joystick control, a device that was released to coincide with the launch of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. Although this is a good idea (since playing those fighters on a regular Super NES pad could be killer on your hands), there was something off about the way they decided to market the product.

This advert claims that they "ripped-off a perfectly good idea" by modeling their control after what you would find in the arcade. They even show you a picture of the arcade control they were modeling it after (clearly from the Street Fighter II arcade cabinet). The problem is, in order to make this advertisement make any sense they had to Photoshop the arcade control and change the button lay outs.

Asciiware's control gets the "popular" arcade lay out wrong, instead of featuring three buttons on top and three on the bottom, they have decided to split it in a weird 2/4 configuration. And to make matters worse they tried their hardest to make the control resemble the look of the Super Nintendo, one of the ugliest systems of all time. The control offers a power and reset button, not to mention all kinds of pointless turbo and slow motion options. But the real tragedy is the advertisement which had to trick gamers in order to make their claims make sense. If this was the best control on the market (like they claim), then they wouldn't need to resort to lying in order to make sales.

Deadly Moves
DUDE! I think that guy has had enough! Look, I'm all for outrageous violence in my advertising, but somebody needs to explain just what the hell is going on here! For example, right under the picture it says "move over master, a new champion is kicking in," yet the picture clearly shows the "Master" being punched ... hard. Which brings up another good question, just how hard to you have to punch somebody to where the side of their face explodes in a shower of blood? It's not coming from his mouth, it's clear that the damage has happened in a location you probably don't want blood coming from.

The advertisement continues, "This exciting action adventure game recreates the fury and explosiveness of international boxing. In this game they take no prisoners." Well, I guess that explains what is happening to the side of his face, but still don't understand why they would take prisoners in the first place. And why is that well dressed man so angry with the surfer? Can't we all just get along?

Where the advertisement falls down is when it starts talking about the graphics. "This exciting video battle feature dimensional screens, high quality graphics, special sound and video effects and challenging game play." Phew, that's quite a mouthful. But what exactly do they mean by Exciting video battle? And what is a dimensional screen? Is special sound better than what we're used to? Of course, none of these questions can be answered because instead of giving us screen shots they use artist renditions of what the action "might" look like. That's right, they use drawings to illustrate just how good this game is going to look. Unfortunately the drawings are laughably bad and will leave no doubt in your head to why you've never heard of this game!

There is just so much bad in this advertisement it's hard to know where to start. I've been looking at this commercial for a long time now, and I'm not sure I can decide on whether Brad was better off when he was boring or now that he's breaking down the boredom barrier. Before he was an unpopular virgin who spent a lot of time in his room thinking about math, but now he's a cocaine addict with terrible taste in clothing and one of the worst hairstyles this side of Carrot Top.

Another problem is that this has an age requirement, if you're under seven or over 77 you might as well look elsewhere for your puzzle fix, because Palamedes is not for you. Is there a good reason 80 year old granny should be kept away from this game, does is offer some magical ingredient that turns you into a raving speed freak with exclamation marks swirling around your aura?

Of course, the real victim in this advert is the person that owned that big piece of yellow paper. I mean, here we have perfectly good piece of large yellow paper just waiting to be used, when this kid under the influence of Palamedes comes by and sticks his head right through it . ruining the whole piece of paper. How insensitive is that? I bet boring Brad wouldn't have done that; he would be at home staying out of trouble. Instead he's out there ruining large pieces of paper, putting too much gel in his hair, and holding on to an NES control for dear life. I fail to see how this is an improvement.

Super High Impact
So this is "Football action so real, it's ... bone chrunching" eh? Just how real is Super High Impact? Well, they weren't able to acquire the rights to the NFL, so none of the teams, players, jerseys, locations, or mascots are real. Other than that it's your every day "real" game of football ... except for the over the top violence, changed rule book, and steroid enhanced game play. You know what, now that I think about it, Super High Impact using the word "real" to describe their game is a lot like saying Ashlee Simpson always sings live.

Even more confusing is Arena's slogan, "Play with the Pros," something you don't actually get to do in this game. To be fair to Super High Impact, it is based on an arcade game that failed to lock down the NFL rights, so it's not like anybody was expecting to see real players and teams in this Genesis game. But then again, it wasn't the arcade game that was purporting itself to be "football action so real."

And while we're complaining about how ludicrous this advertisement is, it's hard not to laugh at how angry the fake football players look in these pictures. If you believe these guys are real football players than you will have no time buying that this is "real" football action. It's kind of hard to take the angry, fist-clenched model serious when the other two are behind him jumping up and down like school girls. The only thing number 72 is angry about is the fact that he's forced to play dress up and pose for the camera. I don't blame him, I'd be angry too if I was in this Super High Impact ad campaign.


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