Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
Commercial Break
Talk Sex with Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 14, 2006   |   Episode 24 (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 ...
The Combatribes (Super NES)
Oh fun, we get to start our episode of Commercial Break with a comic strip. There just aren't enough video game advertisements that are in comic strip form ... and perhaps commercials like this are the reason why. It's The Combatribes, a Double Dragon-style brawler for the Super NES that failed to win over critics or consumers back in the early 1990s. And you can see why, this commercial is just painful to experience!

Let me introduce you to Martha Splatterhead, an unfortunately named cyborg that used to be part of the Combatribes' posse. The very first thing out of her mouth is that she's a proud cyborg and that she's a "fabulous babe." Of course she is, if you're going to go about making a cyborg woman you wouldn't make her look like Rosie O'Donnell. Heck no, you give her a double D bra size and legs that go all the way up. Though, why you would name her Martha Splatterhead is beyond me.

Oddly enough it's not her name that is the most interesting part of this advertisement; it's the rag tag gang she has assembled. It's a gang full of your traditional baddies, like an angry bald child molester, some dude with a Mohawk, a guy with a broken beer bottle, and ... wait a second, is that Jack Nicholson as the Joker in the original Tim Burton Batman?? Oh come on, how am I supposed to take this cartoon seriously if you have the Joker as one of the bosses? Forget it, I'm done with you, it's time to move on!!

3dfx PC Accelerators
So here's what the console industry needs, advertisements that allude to the fact that we're all dateless losers who have never seen a naked woman outside of a porno movie. You know what 3dfx, we get that enough from the mainstream news media already, there's no reason for you to perpetuate a stereotype that is just not true. And to do it in a video game magazine ... well, that's just too far!

Early on this advertisement asks a simple question, "Did you hear the one about the console gamer and the girl?" They quickly answer their own rhetorical question, "Neither did we." Oh, what a laugh riot. That's almost as funny as watching a baby seal die. I have this image in my head of these writers coming up with this stupid advertisement right between their heated argument over Macs or PCs.

But really, is it the console gamers who have the stereotype of being virgins? Last I checked PC gamers had that albatross around their neck, too. Who do you think of when you think of a gamer who still lives at home? PC gamers. And who do you think of as being the anti-social type that refuses to shower or clean up? Yeah, PC gamers. I don't suppose you heard the one about the PC gamer and the full time job? Yeah me neither. Hey ... it's not funny, but at least I'm willing to admit it up front!

Steel Harbinger (PS1)
Speaking of not showering; let me introduce you to the smelliest video game hero of all time. It's Steel Harbinger, an action game featuring a scantly clad babe who apparently has never washed her hair. How can I tell? Take a good long look at the picture of her in the full motion video segment; she is sporting the kind of dreadlocks you can only get from never, ever washing. That hair is so thick you could probably smoke some of it and get high!

But it's not just her odor that makes this commercial hard to stomach. I'm fine with the nappy dreads, but what's with that laser weapon? Talk about not having any reach, as long as the enemy is more than a foot away from her gun they should be safe. Notice that tentacle holding on to her left leg?? The gun won't even reach that immediate danger, how on Earth is this girl going to save the planet?

But let's get back to this freaky looking woman in the picture. They say that this girl is part alien, but obviously the other part is super model. Is there a reason for this alien woman to be wearing nothing but a bikini and boots? I know it's all about the sex appeal and getting male gamers to buy the product, but don't you think that you've lost most of that audience with the face (and hair)?? This girl is surrounded by fire, perhaps she should be wearing something that might protect her. Just a suggestion.

Hori Fighting Stick SS
After three different advertisements referencing women, it's about time we take a look at a commercial that is all about a man. Well, actually, this one is more about a boy. A boy who is not interested in being level with the people he's up against. I would say that's a good 180 degree turn from scantly clad women trying to save the world. But while the theme in this advert may be different, its over all badness appears to be the same.

Like a lot of these bad advertisements, this one fails from logic problems. At the very top the commercial says, "Let them see the scores, but don't let them see how you got 'em." The boy is holding the control behind his back, but the moment they start playing games together it's going to be painfully clear that he's using a heavy duty arcade joystick. And even if he doesn't move the control from his back, that cord is going to clue everybody in that he's hiding something. I suspect it's probably better to show people the control so that they don't think you were cheating. Prove to the world that you have nothing to hide.

Another problem I have is the final sentence. If you look closely you'll see that the end of the description is cut off because of the picture of the control. It says, "You can take on the toughest titles and the meanest opponents and keep smiling as you blow." As you blow? What exactly is Hori saying about the gamers that might want to buy this product? And really, this advert has about a thousand words talking about it, they couldn't figure out a way of letting them finish their thought? Perhaps shrink the kid; as a rule of thumb advertising would be better if they used less freckled kids. Not just the freckled ones, mind you, but ALL kids.


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