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The Trouble With Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 12, 2007   |   Episode 34 (Show Archive)  

   
Join us on our continuing mission to seek out and expose the worst video game advertising of all time. Over the past twenty years we've witnessed a lot of terrible advertising, and it's our job to point it out and let you know what we really think! Nobody is safe when you tune into another episode of Commercial Break, your best resource for the worst video game advertising you ever will see!
Mario is Missing (Super NES)
When you think Mario games on the Super NES you probably think of Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart and Super Mario All-Stars. Chances are you don't think of the game Mario Is Missing ... and for good reason. Mario Is Missing was one of the few Mario games that was not developed or published by Nintendo. Instead it was created by the infinitely less interesting company, The Software Bookworks. Bookworks? Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I play video games to avoid reading books. If I wanted to read a book I would go to the library, beg them for a library card and then learn how to read. But what do I know? Perhaps there's a market out there for educational software starring everybody's favorite chubby plumber.

But The Software Bookworks wasn't going to take any chances; they didn't want their game to be associated with learning and school. In fact, if you took a look at this Mario Is Missing commercial you might think that this was just another mindless Super Mario game. We see a ransom note letting you know that if you don't find him Bowser is going to "destroy the planet." Wait a second; this is Mario we're talking about, right? The same Mario that is nothing more than a princess saving plumber? Why is this fat guy with bad fashion sense so important that Bowser is willing to not only kill everybody on the planet ... but also kill himself? In what universe does that make any sense?

Speaking of things that don't make any sense, I have to wonder how Bowser was able to get his hands on something that would actually destroy the planet. Destroying a whole planet is not an easy task; it's going to take quite a few high powered nuclear devices to actually get the job done. And really, that may not even be enough to do the trick. It seems like you would have to dig down into the earth and try and destroy it that way, blowing up little pieces as you go along. Earth is a pretty big place, regardless of Disneyland and the whole misleading "It's a Small World After All" thing. Perhaps it would be worth letting Mario stay missing just to see how Bowser intended to make this planet unlivable.
Road Avengers (Sega CD)
Ever since I can remember, the Road Avengers advertisement (which is also the game's cover) always troubled me. For years I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew that there was something a little off about the marketing strategy. For the most part I ignored my trepidation; I accepted that this was a silly Dragon's Lair-style full-motion video game featuring crazy automobile action. I was willing to forgive the game for some stupid decisions (like the name Road Avengers) and just treat it like the guilty pleasure it is.

And then it struck me. This commercial makes absolutely no sense. On the surface it's simple; it's a crazy Mohawk dude punching through the glass ready to inflict some massive pain. But what's next? Oh sure, the whole punching your hand through the windshield looks cool, but what exactly is your next move? Even with your arm completely in the car you don't have a lot of options at your disposal. You can't really move your arm around for fear of the broken glass, and there's still a guy driving that seems to be in total control.

And that's not even the worst part of this predicament. One shouldn't forget that this guy is still 90% on the hood of your car and there's a semi-truck creating a giant explosion right behind him! It's not like he's going to be able to get his arm out of your window quickly enough to do something about that giant explosion he's completely forgetting about, and assuming you have your seatbelt on it would seem like you have a lot of good options at your disposal. Then again, any game whose selling point is that it's 30 minutes long can't be troubled with such basic questions as these. Maybe in this case it's true; you really are as dumb as you look!

Sumo FIGHTER (Game Boy)
Ah yes, where would we be without a long history of amazing sumo wrestling games? This is Sumo FIGHTER (yes, "FIGHTER" is supposed to be all caps), an action game where you play the fattest athletes in the world on the smallest console of them all. I'm sure in some alternate reality that makes sense, so who am I to judge the logic of making a portable action game out of a sumo wrestler?

I'm willing to accept that DTMC had the best intentions when bringing this Japanese game to the United States, but did we really need the American flag? It's almost as if they were afraid that Sumo FIGHTER wouldn't do well unless they gave off the impression that he was super patriotic. DTMC clearly didn't think that Americans could relate to a gigantic fat dude who was ready to kick some ass. Apparently they've never been to an American high school. "Now in the USA" this commercial proudly proclaims, which is kind of redundant because there would be no reason for DTMC to actually pay for an advertisement in an American magazine if the game was only available in Japan.

But it's not the American flag that makes me question this game's intentions, instead it's the crazy description found on the left side. "Help [Sumo FIGHTER] eat his way to super strength and destroy lightweights in his path." As much fun as simulating over eating sounds, I think I would rather just skip to the butt kicking part of the game. And if that wasn't stupid enough, you also get to jump into bonus stages full of arm wrestling, sumo fighting and ... thumb wrestling? What, they couldn't get the water balloon fight mechanics to work properly? Paper, Rock Scissors too complicated for the Sumo dude? Perhaps this is why we don't see sumo wrestling games released in the U.S. anymore. Thanks a lot DTMC!

Nameless GameTek F1 Game (Super NES)
When it comes to the Commercial Break I hate doing research. When it comes to other types of articles I have no problem, I'll research facts all day for an On Running Feud or Freeze Frame. But when it's a Commercial Break article I feel like I shouldn't have to look anything up. Let's face it; this is a pretty easy gig. I just have to look at a commercial and make fun of the little things it does wrong. But GameTek isn't going to let me get away with just sitting here and making fun of the adverts' stupid artwork or lame slogan, because this game has neither. GameTek has given me the challenge of finding something to make fun of when it comes to their Super NES F1 game.

Unfortunately the artwork and slogan are not the only two things missing from this commercial, also absent is the name of the game. That's right, this game is advertising something, but we don't know what. At the bottom of the advertisement it says, "The name of the game is ..." and then it just cuts to a phone number. Perhaps GameTek's F1 racer is actually called 1-800-320-GAME, but for some reason I doubt it. The advert talks about how it's the world's fastest F1 game and how it's the most realistic, but for some stupid reason they decided not to tell you what game they are talking about. Way to waste money, guys.

If you're not going to tell me what the game is then why should I care? How do you propose I go and buy this game? Should I walk up to the clerk and simply say: "Hey, I'm looking for that one game, buy that one company, that has to do with racing and doesn't have a name."? Actually, now that I mention it, that's how I ask for all of my games. Not too long ago I remember going into my local Toys R Us and saying, "Can you get me that one game from that one company who made that really popular game that won all of those awards?" Unfortunately I ended up buying The Shield for the PS2. Perhaps next time I should be more specific.
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