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Thank God You're Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 11, 2007   |   Episode 36 (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!
Acclaim Remote (NES)
How do you know when you're having a really crummy video game experience? Your TV decides it's had enough of this abuse and decides to fly far, far away from you. Apparently this is what is going on in this commercial for Acclaim Remote, Acclaim's third party NES control. I'm not sure if it's the game he's playing, the control he's using, or his terrible breath, but there's something wrong and the dinky twenty inch television doesn't want anything to do with it. Forget that it's plugged into the wall; this TV doesn't need a cord ... or even a wall. Hmm, now that I mention it, maybe this kid has more to worry about then his TV flying away; he appears to be lost in space. I don't know about you, but if I was out in the middle of space I probably would have bigger things on my mind -- like, I don't know, running out of oxygen!

Okay, okay, so let's get off of the subject of space travel and talk about the control itself. Some of our younger readers probably don't know this, but back in the days of the NES a lot of third party video game publishers had their own video game controls to sell you. This is Acclaim's model, a wireless NES control that shoots weird red lasers out at the TV. When I look at this ancient advert the only thing I can think about is how dangerous it all looks. Kind of like how if he were to aim it at his little sister's eyes she would be rendered permanently blind for the rest of her life. In fact, maybe that's why the TV is trying to escape. If I had some jerk shooting lasers at me I would probably get away, too.

But the best part of this commercial has to be the description. "Acclaim's Wireless Remote Controller gives you the power to really get into the action of your favorite Nintendo games," it starts. As it continues it talks about having a 30 foot range, tumbling through favorite NES adventures, and using rapid-fire mode (aka turbo). But no sooner has it won you over when it says this nugget of uncomfortable truth: "It even looks and feels like the Nintendo controller you already know." Nooooooooooo!! I don't know about you, but the NES controller is one of the most uncomfortable pieces of plastic you will ever hold. The edges cut into your hands like it's a depressed emo girl and the buttons are so small and close together giving you carpel tunnel. If you're going to make a new control why not make it less painful to hold? And if you're not going to do that, at least make the advertisement cool. And if you're not going to do either of those two things, then why not name it something better than Acclaim Wireless Remote Control? Oh bad advertising, why do you leave me with so many unanswered questions??

Ascii Game Boy Accessories
You know how most video game companies like to condense their message into a pithy slogan or short description? No Ascii. They aren't about saying "Don't be a game girl, buy this stuff for your Game Boy" or anything cheesy like that, instead they give us a full page full of text. So much text that I have to wonder if there's anybody besides me that actually read the whole thing. When I look at this page my eyes start to glaze over, surely there's a better way to get your message across! This reminds me of Robert Crumb's brother, who as he went insane started to draw cartoons with dialog bubbles, only to end up ditching the cartoons and just write pages of nonsensical dialog bubbles. It's clear that this advert was written by Robert Crumb's brother when he was only 50% crazy.

But let's forget the text for a moment. If there's one thing we all know it's that kids always do what the doctor says. Kids are all about taking medicine, playing it safe and always washing their hands for more than thirty seconds. Kids are just crazy for health, that's why they are so excited to listen to adult figures tell them what they should and shouldn't do. Oh wait, maybe I'm thinking of somebody else. Because kids hate taking orders from adults, which is why it seems stupid to have some scientist extolling the virtues of your Game Boy accessories.

Maybe it's just me, but I absolutely hate it when adults try and write for the "typical" kid. How can you tell that a suit write the conversation? It's phrases like, "Major problem dude," or "a most triumphant dilemma." And that's not all; he also uses words like "gnarly" and "chill." There's no way a kid would say that, by the time this commercial came out people that talked like that were square. You might as well just have to kid say that your Game Boy accessories are the "bee's knees" or "the top shelf." Come on daddy-o; get it together if you're going to totally use uncool slang. Don't you know that slang expires thirty seconds after you say it? Word!

Marvel Land (Genesis)
I'm sure it's a perfectly fun game, but already this thing has a couple of things working against it. It's called Marvel Land and doesn't feature the X-Men, its slogan is "Leap Into Action" which totally sucks, and it's in our bad advertisement section. But I'm not going to damn it just for that, instead I'm going to look at the full advert and make a reasoned decision. Oh who am I kidding? This commercial sucks! Let's start with the most obvious reason ... it features a chase on a roller coaster. On a roller coaster? How scary is that? The cars move at the same speed so the bad guy will never catch up. If this is the best they can do then maybe you should save your money for Sonic, Sparkster or maybe the PlayStation 3 (yeah, you have to start saving in 1991 if you're ever going to afford it).

The one thing that strikes me as funny is the expressions everybody has in the commercial. There's this guy jumping into a moving cart (from where? I don't know), but instead of looking happy to see him, the cute little girl looks utterly terrified. That's the kind of face you would expect if you car jacked a woman, she looks extremely concerned about her well being. And I don't blame her, the guy has horns and jumped into her moving cart ... either that's a rapist or the most misunderstood nice guy the world has ever seen.

And it's not just the girl who looks scared to death; it's the tiny fairies all around the amusement park. Notice how all three of the fairies look concerned for that poor woman. Or maybe they are just taken aback by the dude's crummy fashion sense. He's wearing a dress for crying out loud, what kind of dude wears a dress? What's even more tragic is that you notice the dress long before you notice that he has wings, which would usually be the defining characteristic of a guy like this. But no, it's his man dress. I don't know, I could probably go on but maybe I'll just lay off since he's fighting in an amusement park. It takes balls to fight in an amusement park ... balls I can totally see because he's wearing a dress!

Gain Ground (Genesis)
When it comes to talking about bad video game advertisements I don't want to be mean, I really don't. But sometimes the video game companies just force me to do it; I swear it's not my fault. So is the case with Gain Ground, a cult classic among Sega fans. These days' people argue whether the game holds up when compared to modern games (it doesn't) or if the Genesis was that good of a console (it was). But we're not interested in getting into the middle of those fights; instead we are here to talk about this terrible, terrible advertisement. At first glance this doesn't look that bad (especially when compared to other adverts we've seen this episode), but I assure you that this is one of the worst commercials of the era.

First and foremost, if you're going to show the box why not make it large enough so people can see it? That way when they go to the store to buy it they can actually see the game you are talking about. And better yet, if you're going to have a couple of idiots hold the box, why not make sure they're wearing cool clothing? The kid's shirt looks like it was used for scratch paper and the adult is definitely modeling some bad fashion sense with those pants. I mean really, who wears pants like that? Idiots who play Gain Ground, that's who!

But my main gripe is with the premise of the commercial. Fun for kids of all ages? Okay, I get why the kid is there, he was just given a video game he doesn't know any better. I mean, what kid wouldn't be happy if you gave him a game? Hell, I would be happy if somebody gave me a free game, no matter how bad it is. Actually, scratch that. I get free games all the time, I'm not THAT happy when they show up anymore. Anyway, my issue isn't with the kid, it's with that loser comedian Ray Ramona from that show Everybody Loves Ray. Is this what he was reduced to before making it big? And while he's definitely older than the kid, he's hardly an old fart. Is being a kid capped at the age of 30? I hope not, because if that's the case my life is about to suck. Of course, it can't suck more than these fools ... at least I don't have stupid clothing!


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