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The Penguins of Bad Advertising
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 10, 2009   |   Episode 46 (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!
Heavy Nova (Genesis)
Over the past 46 episodes we've seen terrible advertisements that use disgusting bodily fluids, made-up quotes and even a few that just a little racist (see: Wolfenstein 3D). But today we're going to look at an advertisement that is none of those. It's not disgusting, the artwork is fine and there's not even a slight hint of racism. For all intents and purposes, this should be a good advertisement. This isn't the type of commercial we should be talking about; instead we should be looking at the snot-filled Boogerman ads or those Virtual Boy commercials starring butt cracks. Heavy Nova should be one of the good ones. How did it come to this?

Simple - it's because they are lying to you. That's right; this Heavy Nova commercial is an outright lie. There's no way that Heavy Nova was sold out at your local game store. This is as game that nobody bought by a company that nobody cared about. It had cheesy cover art, a generic name and was on a rack full of nothing but Micronet games. It's the perfect storm, and there's no way that Heavy Nova could ride out the waves. The only way this game could possibly sell out is if your local game store refused to carry it in the first place.

But wait ... maybe there is something to that. At first glance this advertisement is trying to suggest that somebody just bought the last copy of Heavy Nova. But how can that be the case when the there's no hook to hang the game? Look closely, the only way the consumer could have taken this game off the shelf is if it was floating in mid air. Perhaps it's for the best that there's no hook, after all it's not like all of the other Micronet games are flying off the shelf. Maybe instead of putting this game in no-man's land, you should put it next to something people might look at (like a Street Fighter game). Whatever you do, don't try and hang the game without a hook, it's just not going to work.

Discwasher - SpikeMaster Surge Suppressor
While everybody wants to be Superman or Batman, the truth is that there are a lot of ridiculously stupid superheroes in our culture. Is there a person alive that wants to be Aquaman? Or what about Captain Obvious, a superhero that points out really obvious things. And don't even get me started on the cast of Heroes, there's enough suck there to spend ten pages complaining. But while all of those heroes suck (especially the ones created by Tim Kring), none are as pointless as SpikeMaster, Discwasher's surge suppressor superhero!

A surge suppressor should sell itself. After all, it's a little box that you plug your valuables into so that they won't get destroyed if there's a power surge. It's as simple as that. They don't need to sing and dance. They don't need to fight crime. They don't need to save the universe. All they need to do is protect your computer, stereo and TV and you'll be happy.

My biggest problem with this advertisement is that I don't buy that this character, this SpikeMaster, could really rescue my computer from the evils of electrical surges. Instead of looking like a buff superhero, SpikeMaster looks like a combination of a 1970s revival of Hair and Robocop. It would be bad enough if it was just his lightning encrusted helmet, but I'm also concerned that his armor doesn't expend to his arms, elbows, knees and crotch. And did I mention that he can barely hold that computer? Oh sure, he can fly around, but he's a weak little guy with no fashion sense. If this is the hero, then maybe I'll take my chances with his arch nemesis - Dr. Power Surge!

L.A. Crackdown (C64)
You know what's out of control? Los Angeles! You heard me, L.A. is out of control and you have to do something about it. Because right now, somewhere in L.A. there's a D-list celebrity looking to score some blow. And a few miles south there's a homeless guy just laying out in the middle of the street sunbathing. And over at Jake's Drive-Thru Dog & Cat Divorce Supercenter there's a gay marriage protest that just got violent. Los Angeles is a mess and somebody has to do something about it.

Unfortunately that person is you. If this classic game advertisement is any indication, then you'll be fighting crime with a computer microphone and a bunch of crap you bought at the local RadioShack. But you could afford all of these gadgets, because you opted against the cool crime-fighting suit and stuck with your bright yellow tee-shirt. Actually, on second thought, you really should change out of that yellow shirt and put on something a little more conspicuous.

But here's the rub: No matter how much crap you buy or how yellow your shirt is, you'll never be able to watch over all of Los Angeles. In case you haven't been paying attention, L.A. is extremely large. It's one of the most spread out pieces of land you will ever see and the second largest city in all of these United States. Batman only has to look over the third most populated city in the U.S. and has a lot of help from the police force. And did I mention that he's a billionaire and has a ridiculously cool costume? If Batman can't even do it, then how can this unshaven loser with a baseball cap going to resolve the crime problem?

Generation Lost (Genesis)
More like Generation Gay Porn. Who's the wise guy at Time Warner Interactive that thought a picture of a half-naked, long-haired, sweaty guy would be the best way to sell the game? You can't even see his face, so all you're really seeing are his well-chiseled pecks. Oh, and his five-o-clock shadow. You're definitely getting that, too. I'm sorry faceless model number five, but the least you could do is shave. You're going to be on camera, you know. And put a shirt on, this is a game about mutants. Unless you have eyes for nipples (which would really be impractical), there's no reason you need to be shirtless in your advertising.

My favorite part of this advertisement is when it states that the game has an "atmospheric, New Age soundtrack." Again, this is a game about MUTANTS. You know, like X-Men-style mutants. This is a guy that can jump real high and punch real hard. He's a mutant. What the hell does he need a New Age soundtrack for? And why is that even a bullet point?

The shirtless dude, the beads of sweat, the lightning and the new age music ... it all adds up to one thing: This game is clearly targeting women. Why else would they use this imagery to advertise a 2D action game with a lead character that is fully clothed? You heard me, in the game he has plenty of clothes on, so he's not this shirtless model you see in the advertisement (and on the cover art). The game advertises itself as having a "mysterious sci-fi plot," but the only mystery is where they put this guy's shirt.
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