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Superstars of Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 23, 2009   |   Episode 44 (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!
Summer Games (PC)
Move over Michael Phelps, because it looks like you've been replaced by the geekiest kid Epyx could round up in short order. Seriously guys, is this what you really think of your consumers? Apparently this was long before the fat and lazy stereotypes started getting attached to gamers, because the modern game fan wouldn't be able to fit up there on that ceremonial stand. But let's not get side tracked, because I'm still appalled that a video game company would go out and hire a kid that geeky looking. Worst of all, I wouldn't be surprised if this kid didn't actually look that ridiculous. I bet you money that they "styled" his hair to look like Dwight Schrute, gave him that hunch and gave him your grandmother's glasses. There's no way a kid would come in looking like that, not on purpose that is.

This advertisement asks us a question, and frankly it would be rude not to at least try to answer. It wants to know why you would want to watch the Olympics when you could be in them. That's a fair question. Personally I would rather watch the Olympics because in order to be in them you have to practice morning, day and night for years on end. And even then you're forced to compete against the best of the best in the United States simply in order to qualify to go to the Olympics. I have way more important things that I could be doing with that time, like finally beating Fallout 3 and trying to figure out what Braid means.

Beyond the ridiculousness of the picture and all of those gold medals, I find the actual story of Summer Games to be absolutely ludicrous. "You're an Olympic athlete," the description starts, "competing in eight key events at the Summer Games. How well can you score in track, swimming, diving, shooting, gymnastics and more?" Wait a second ... you have to be quite the athlete if you can qualify for all of those different events. If you're a swimmer I can understand also training for the diving competitions, however why would you also be training for the shooting and gymnastics events? That's just crazy talk. It's hard enough to qualify for one type of event, let along eight. I smell something fishy going on, I think we need to get a hold of the International Olympics Committee and get this person disqualified.

Zeddas: Servant of Sheol (PC)
The great thing about video games is that they can be about anything. You aren't limited by what an actor looks like or where you're located, you can create a game about any world, any person or thing and about any story. And that's not all, when you've created your masterpiece, you can call it whatever you want. Knowing that, it sort of makes you wonder why somebody would name a game Zeddas: Servant of Sheol. I can sort of understand the Servant of Sheol part, but Zeddas? Is that supposed to be a place? You can name your game anything, from Happy DVD Snapper to Kill Em All 3, and yet you come up with Zeddas? I guess I should just be happy you didn't go for the palindrome and call it Zaddaz.

Here's what I have figured out from staring at this terrible advertisement: Zeddas is a brothel that caters to some very specific clientele. Or maybe this is actually something a lot more wholesome, like Zeddas Day Care Center. It's hard to tell when the lights are so low. Can somebody turn on the lights? Anyway, all I can tell is that Zeddas appears to be run by a bunch of weirdly proportioned women in various stages of undress.

Unfortunately it's impossible to look at this advertisement and not immediately notice the morbidly obese woman in the middle of the group. It's not just the fact that she's the size of a house that made us notice her first; it was the fact that she's wearing a red dress and one of her breasts is the same size as the other four girls combined. When you think about advertising the common logic is that you get the thin and sexy woman to sell your product, because a pretty girl is hard to resist. Apparently nobody told that to Synergy Interactive, because no matter how hot the other girls are, the only thing I can see is that 500 pound woman in the red dress. If this is what I can expect from Zeddas, then you can count me out as one of the servants of Sheol.

Project Overkill (PlayStation)
"So I was at E3 a couple of years ago, around the time that Nintendo announced Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the first time. Have I told you this story before? No, okay, well, I was in Los Angeles covering this event in the city's worst hotel room. I'm not kidding, this thing was the ghetto's ghetto, the worst place imaginable in L.A. Get this; it was actually a hotel in a hotel. I'm not kidding. The hotel we were staying in had twelve floors, yet the sixth floor was an entirely different hotel. It was completely remodeled and everything, with HDTVs, new pain and a big chair that was in the shape of a severed hand. It was creepy, yet kind of kitschy all at the same time.

"But the problem was that this hotel room didn't have anything you would expect. It didn't have air conditioning, it didn't have the internet and it didn't even have a bathroom. It was completely unworkable, a terrible experience where I would wake up to gun fire and police sirens. There was one day where ... oh, what's that? Project Overkill is ready? Well, just tell it to wait for a few minutes, I'm going to finish telling my story and by right with it.

"Anyway, where was I? Oh, that's right, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Anyway, before Nintendo had even announced the thing I got this CD with the trailer. And so we got everybody in the hotel floor to come over and check out my exclusive Smash Bros. video. The room was silent as we watched character after character get introduced. And then we saw Solid Snake and just about everybody in the room cheered. And then we drank. Eventually the whole hotel room started fighting over whether Metal Gear started on the MSX or the Nintendo Entertainment System. And then somebody said that it started on the PlayStation and that guy was kicked out of the room. Eventually it turned violent. Or, at least I thought it did, I was too busy kicked out of my own hotel room."

Next Generation: Win a Virtual Boy
Let's face it, when it comes to the Virtual Boy nobody wins. This was "portable" that proved that Nintendo was not infallible, much to the relief of Sony and Sega. However, before the system even hit Next Generation was out there trying to drum up some buzz with this exclusive contest. Unfortunately this advertisement came in the same issue that featured Next Generation tearing the very thought of the Virtual Boy apart. This is the very same issue that described the Virtual Boy as "baffling" and suggested that Nintendo may have lost their minds. But here we are, late in the issue, and they want me to write in and try to win this "baffling" system? Fine, I'll play your stupid little game, Next Generation Magazine. You want me to write a paragraph that consists of less than 100 words? Fine, I'll play by your stupid rules, but this is the paragraph you're getting:

"Hey Next Generation, what the HELL are you doing giving away a Virtual Boy? You're Next Generation Magazine, you're above this. That would be like Exotic Cars Magazine giving away a Geo Metro as a prize. You might as well just give your readers an open box, because at least that will be fun (and won't hurt their eyes). The way you have to stretch the truth and become creative in your wording just to get people to think about entering your stupid contest is offensive. Having said that, I hope I win."

The problem I have with this advertisement is that Next Generation had to be just a little too creative in order to sell people on the idea of winning a Virtual Boy. When they aren't trying to be funny ("Game Link for head-to-head action (sounds almost illegal)") they are spending their time giving the system backhanded compliments ("Virtual Boy is "virtually" incredible"). Another problem I have is how it feels like Next Generation is bending over backwards to compliment Nintendo, going as far as to call them the "company that has always been revolutionizing video game play." Really? Is that really necessary? You know you have a console that is an absolute joke on your hands, you said as much just 100 pages earlier. Yet now you're turning around and suggesting that Nintendo's track record is enough to sell the Virtual Boy? Journalistic integrity is a strange thing sometimes.


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