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!
Hellraiser (Color Dreams)
Every so often I like to shake things up and bring you an article with a subtle theme. That's exactly what I plan on doing today with the newest episode of Commercial Break. Today we're going to look at four advertisements that are all about exaggeration. Each of these advertisements is good at doing one thing, going way, WAY overboard when trying to sell their respective games. We start with Hellraiser, an unlicensed NES
game from the good people at Color Dreams. Can you tell what the excess is in this advertisement? Is it all of the pins in Pinheads head? Is the tagline, which states that "He'll tear your soul apart"? Or maybe it's the fact that it's on the NES, Genesis AND Atari Lynx. I mean seriously, the Atari Lynx?
All of those are wrong, because this advertisement likes to exaggerate how many worlds it has. While trumpeting that Hellraiser is the "largest game yet for Nintendo" and has "over one hundred demons to escape from," Color Dreams goes way overboard and proclaims that Hellraiser has, get this, "over one million world!" ONE MILLION?!? Clearly we're talking about a game that randomly generate levels, because even if somebody spent only one second developing those levels that would still be 11 days,13 hours and 47 minutes of wasted energy.
Though, as silly as the exaggeration is, there's one thing I can't get over. Do you think it's appropriate for Hellraiser (one of the darkest horror films of all time) to be developed by a company called Color Dreams? The same company that released Bible Buffet and Super 3D Noah's Ark. The same company that advertises Happy Camper directly under Clive Barker's grotesque creation. That's like having the Saw movies under the Walt Disney banner. When you have something violent and dark you don't use a name like Color Dreams, instead you have it be from Dead Man Software or Machine Gun Games. Seriously, what were they thinking?
Skate or Die 2 (Electronic Arts)
Long before anybody had ever heard of Skate and Activision screwed up the Tony Hawk franchise, there was Electronic Arts' Skate or Die franchise. By franchise I mean two games ... not including the equally terrible spin-off, Ski or Die. This hip, rad, gnarly, bodacious advertisement is for the totally whack Skate or Die 2, easily one of the worst skateboarding games of all time. In fact, it's a skateboarding game so bad that it makes me want to apologize to Tony Hawk Ride. It's a skateboarding game so bad that it made
me nail a "no skating" sign onto the side of my television screen. A skateboarding game so bad that it made me hate kittens. That's how bad this game is.
But I digress, this advertisement for Skate or Die 2 is making me feel a little stabby. So let me get this right, this concrete room is supposed to be some skater dude's house? Y'know, some poor hipster who isn't going to let the man push him around and doesn't have time for a job. He's just out there skating the open streets with no care in the world. He has a finely tuned radar for finding empty swimming pools ... and trouble. He's too busy to take care of his apartment, an abandoned building that he's squatting in. Thank god those bumper stickers were free, without them he wouldn't have anything to put on his wall. Oh, well, anything except for that GIGANTIC TELEVISION!!
So, which is it, is he too poor to own a real home and too lazy to pick up, or is he rich enough to buy a concrete mounted television to play his crappy NES game? Worse yet, why can't this guy pick up around the place. I know that this Skate or Die 2 intro menu is pulse-pounding excitement, but maybe they could spend a few seconds picking up around the pad. Maybe get a second chair for the company. Or better yet, pick up that dead dog in the middle of your living room. I'm not buying that they have enough know-how to mount a large screen TV in concrete, but can't pick up the dead dog or semen stain on the wall.
Golgo 13: Top Secret (Vic Tokai)
At first glance I see nothing wrong with this cover. The artwork looks good, the game looks exciting and, most importantly, the damsel in distress is insanely hot. How could I possibly have a problem with Golgo 13: Top Secret, let alone see it as excessive? The truth is, there's nothing about this artwork that I disagree with. The problem comes when you start to read the reviews at the bottom of the page. "Excellent sound effects and music," Compute's Guide to Nintendo Games says. Another review says that Golgo 13 is the
"first game to capture the flavor of a James Bond adventure." Fair enough, I feel that's a bit hyperbolic, but Vic Tokai definitely tries to infuse this game with elements of 007. And then we get to Nintendo Power, which claims that Golgo 13 has been "nominated for best game ever." Wait ... EVER?
That's right, apparently Nintendo Power nominated this interesting (albeit fundamentally broken) Bond-esque adventure for the "Best Game Ever" award. Is that even a real thing? Is Nintendo seriously suggesting that Golgo 13 is better than Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Pong, Asteroids, Tempest and Donkey Kong? Golgo 13 wasn't even the best game on the NES, let alone the best game of all time.
Another thing that makes me think that maybe this adventure isn't all that special is the apathetic tagline. "Just another secret episode," it reads. Really? Just another boring day at the office, eh? If I'm going to play a game about some super agent, shouldn't you choose the most thrilling episode for me to play and not "just another secret episode"? When you put the word "just" in front of something it makes it sound like you're settling. She was "just another pretty good." That was "just another movie." Lost is "just another TV show." No, Lost isn't "just" another TV show, it's much more than that ... oh wait ... I'm arguing with myself. I guess it's "just another reason for me to hate Duke Togo." Maybe it's "just another time to move on and put this joke to bed."
Heavy Barrel (Data East)
Here we have Heavy Barrel, or "just another bad advertisement." Dammit, I thought I was done with that joke. Let's start that again. Here we have Heavy Barrel, one of Data East's most successful shooters. This action-packed shooter allows you to blow stuff up. Hell, even the tag line talks about being explosive. "The ultimate weapon will blow you away," it proudly tells you. Is that a good thing? When I answered the ad for this job I was hoping to blow everybody else away, if I have to go up against this so-called ultimate weapon and it's going to blow me away, then you can have your seventy-five dollars back and I'll go sign up for the clinical trial over
at the hospital. I hear they're testing a new drug that will allow you to go hair just applying pressure to your skin. What could go wrong with that?
What I love about this advertisement is how over-the-top it needs to be. This is not "just another action game," this is a game where you rush in to rescue hostages that are being held by a bunch of nuclear bomb handling terrorists. Talk about old school thinking. These days we're afraid of powder in somebody's underwear and a box cutter on an airplane. Imagine just how crazy we would be if we not only had a kidnapping, but also a nuclear threat. That's the kind of thing where you would send more than two people to get the job done. Right? No, we're going with the two guys? Alright, do what you must, Mr. President.
What pisses me off about this commercial is how excessive it is. I know the irony, this is an excessive article about exaggerations and a level of excess, but even the most hardened cynic has to admit that this advertisement is crazy excessive. Sort of like me use of the word "excessive" back there, it was way excessive. Anyway, instead of finding a door, our heroes decide to waste a huge amount of ammo to blow a circular hole in the wall. And to make things worse, they do this while there's a war going on behind them. If you're one of the only two guys hunting these terrorists down, then I sure hope you didn't forget to bring along your C4. Because shooting a hole in the wall is needlessly time consuming and will alert the entire war to your whereabouts. That's Shooting Stuff 101. Oh man, after all of these excessive advertisements I think I need to go lay down. Too much excitement for me. Until next time ...