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Commercial Break
Highway to Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 05, 2006   |   Episode 21 (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 ...
Konami LaserScope (NES)
So here we have the very last episode of the Commercial Break before we leave for E3. Heck, this is the last show we're posting before we leave for sunny southern California. To celebrate we've scoured some of our oldest magazines to bring you another batch of horrible advertising. We're going to start with this commercial for the LaserScope, Konami's crazy accessory for the 8-Bit Nintendo Entertainment System. If you've never heard of it don't feel bad, the NES was known for having hundreds of obscure (and often forgotten) accessories that were all completely useless.

There are a couple of things that jumped out at me the first time I saw this advertisement. For example, why is that guy so sweaty?? This commercial gives off the impression that this kid just ran a marathon and then came home to play some random rail shooter. His hair, his expression, everything, it all adds up to one uncomfortable gamer with an extremely large device weighing his head down. How sweaty can this guy really be, all he's doing is moving his head and saying "FIRE" to make the gun shoot. And in case nobody asked Konami this when they were designing it, but just how much fun can this really be?? Judging by this guy's expression, not much fun at all.

But let's get back to the main problem with the LaserScope, it's gigantic! When you're look straight on at this kid it looks large, but notice the smaller picture of the box (which has the "model" at an angle), we're talking about a serious piece of plastic that won't get you any dates. Not that this guy is going to be scoring a lot with that terrible sweating problem. And one last point, do you see the box where it says "stereo turbo," I guess this is the first time I've heard of "stereo turbo," I'm assuming that's not better than Pro-Logic or Dolby Digital. But seriously, get that fifty pound monstrosity off your head, it's time to shoot people the old fashioned way ... with a light gun!

The Trading Zone
You know how people over a certain age don't take video gaming seriously? They act like it's some passing fad that only pimply-faced teenagers are excited about. Well, it's advertising like this that puts that thought into adult's brains, and believe me, once it's in there it's almost impossible to get out. There is almost too many things wrong with this advertisement to mention here, we should probably spend a whole Commercial Break talking about everything in this advertisement that makes me hate The Trading Zone. I'm sure I'll run out of space, but dammit I'm going to do my best to point out everything I hate about this commercial.

It probably won't take you very long to see why this commercial is listed in an article about bad advertising, just about every inch of this is painful on the eyes and offensive to your intelligence. Unless you're hawking a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game you probably don't want to start your advert with the word, "cowabunga." Even worse, putting three exclamation marks after it!!! And if the stupid phrases weren't enough, every other letter is a different color, making this look more like a ransom note left by an eight year old. Hey, maybe it's that Junior Thin Mint in the picture, the one having a little too much fun in his butt ugly The Trading Zone t-shirt. Also, why is he standing up? Who plays their NES while standing up?

Speaking of t-shirts, that ugly shirt can be yours for free! As one of the promotions The Trading Zone is willing to give you a free t-shirt. As they put it, "it's fresh!" Well that's good, because I wasn't looking to get the one that tweener is looking for. I'll take a nice and clean one thank you very much, I'm afraid I'll get one with Michael Jackson evidence on it! If the stupid t-shirt isn't enough to sway you, then how about that horrible poster? Could the kid look any more stoned than he does there?? Couple this with its terrible slang, Wayne's World rip off ("no way." "yes way.") and you have one of the worst advertisements of all time. This is the type of commercial you just don't see anymore, and for good reason if you ask me!

Game Genie (NES)
Now here's something you don't see very often, a video game maker thanking an entire country. And of all the countries it could have been, it's Canada that Camerica Games has decided to single out. Hey Camerica, you have the word "America" in your name, if you're going to thank anybody it should be the red, white, and blue. Those colors don't run. It's the land of the free, home of the brave. The one true superpower and all those other nauseating clich?s that only make foreigners hate us more. What do those freezing cold Canucks have that we don't??

Well, clearly the answer is the Game Genie; at least it was in 1990. Thanks to a lawsuit from Nintendo the Game Genie wasn't being sold in the U.S., the only place you could get it was in Canada, a country with extremely cheap medical supplies (quick, tell your grandmother). But maybe the U.S. didn't want the Game Genie after all, I mean, do you see all that fire coming out of that guy? He's the last Genie I would want in my Nintendo Entertainment System, he looks like the type of arsonist that wouldn't have much sympathy for me after he's burned down my apartment. Apparently this is the fire and brimstone Genie we didn't see in Aladdin.

But what makes this advertisement so lame is the text under the big Canadian thank you. Instead of just being serious and explaining what was going on, Camerica decided to give it a Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure vibe. With words like "totally," "drastic," "bogus," "awesome," and "radical" cluttering up the page you get a better idea at who the Game Genie was targeted at ... teenage students flunking out of everything except for Slang 101. So enjoy it Canada, it's about time somebody gave you a little credit (even if it wasn't justly deserved). The people that should be getting the credit are the retailers stocking the accessory. Stores like K-Mart, Canadian Tire, Compucentre, and Woolco. Of course, you could also pick it up at Den for Men, but that sounds like a place where you might buy a gay suit. Located right next to Bi-Rite Drugs and At the Bay. Hmm, maybe we should just move on.

Vic Tokai LightBoy
Fans of the Commercial Break will immediately recognize that this is not the first time we've talked about Vic Tokai's LightBoy for the original Game Boy. We actually took a look at the device in our very first episode of Commercial Break. In the past twenty episodes I would like to say my opinion of the device has changed, but I still laugh every time I see it advertised. It doesn't help matters much when Vic Tokai decides make the advertisements so stupid. Thankfully this advert from 1990 continues this tradition giving us even more fodder for this article.

So you're going to Los Angeles by car; you have your sugar-addicted brother, your nosey mother, and an unfaithful father driving you to who knows what. Thankfully none of these people actually care about you or your safety, because they just let you zone out in the very back of your station wagon playing some crappy game put out by Vic Tokai. But let's say Slick Willy accidentally crashes the car in all of that Los Angeles traffic, you (and your Game Boy with Vic Tokai's LightBoy) go flying because you aren't buckled in and you your eyes are poked out by the flying glass that comes out of your LightBoy upon impact. You are one hurting unit! The doctors say that you'll never walk again and your video game arm will have to be amputated. All because your parents didn't strap you in and take away that blasted LightBoy. Damn you Vic Tokai, you are a supporter of unsafe driving habits. Somebody should take away your Good Samaritan license! And forget about that inappropriate slogan, "You can't stay in the dark forever," I'm telling you, this advertisement is hinting at something!

But let's get back to this road trip for a few seconds. This family is driving into Los Angeles, a city full of excitement and things to see. What the heck is he doing playing video games? As a parent it's your job to tell the older brother to smack that game player and tell him to pay attention! There are important things to see, we're not wasting all of this gas just so you can play some puzzle game. Get your face out of that game, it's time to pay attention to your surroundings ... you might actually learn something. Actually, you might as well just crash the car and put this kid out of his misery! The world would be a better place if more people paid attention, and the LightBoy is keeping that world harmony from happening. Shame on your Vic Tokai, shame on you!


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