While digging through all of my old magazines for inspiration and reference I discovered that there are a lot of awesomely great advertisements that have been completely forgotten. Instead of keeping this gold mine to myself I decided to talk about four of these old advertisements each and every week. And so was born the Commercial Break, a place where I can really let them know what I think of their adverts! Looks like we have four of them right here ...
The Punisher (NES)
There's something very frightening about this commercial for the Punisher, something even scarier than the Punisher's deathly aura. Most people that look at this commercial instantly notice Frank Castle's big guns, stupid costume, and camel toe, but that's not what I see; when I look at this commercial I see the Punisher doing a punishing comedy routine in front of some unsuspecting audience. I can hear him now, "why did the chicken cross the
road? To shove this metal rod up that guy's ass sideways! What, you've heard this one before?"
Unfortunately the comedy styling of Frank Castle is not the only scary thing about this advertisement. Perhaps the scariest part of LJN's commercial is just how, well, un-scary they make the Punisher look. Oh sure he's giving you his "I'm gonna getcha" look, but look at the spray paint around him ... you think quotes like "Super Arcade Action" and "He Who Lives ... Wins" are going to give you a lot of street cred? I don't care how many guns you're holding, you're never going to look tough when you're standing in front of graffiti that says "the NES game." Seriously Frank, how tough could this neighborhood be if THAT is the graffiti you choose to stand in front of.
But let's get back to that comment, "He Who Lives ... Wins." What the heck does that mean? I suppose that's true if you're in a horror movie, or even a war zone ... but when it's next to "the NES game" it just reminds me that there are a lot of losers that are still alive. Osama bin Laden is still alive, oh; maybe that's not a good example. Now that would be a game, let's send the Punisher after Osama, might save the audience from the terrible stand-up routine he's performing. "You know it's bad when instead of tomatoes the audience decides to throw bombs, wacka wacka wacka!" That's enough Frank, that's enough.
Imagery is an important thing in advertising. It's not always about finding the right theme; sometimes it's about looking out for subtle (and unintended) symbolism in your advert. Apparently Taito, the makers of Qix for the NES, did not heed that warning as they have a commercial that is very confusing and layered with bad undertones. The biggest problem being that it looks like Qix is sucking this poor boy into the TV, Poltergeist style. But if that's the case then wouldn't the commercial be telling us that Qix sucks? Or maybe Qix is blowing that boy (there will be no Michael Jackson jokes
in this Commercial Break) ... but that's no good, because it would be saying that Qix blows. No matter how you look at it, this commercial is telling you that this game is no good.
I suppose one could argue that the boy is actually just floating there, suspended in air by a force as great as Qix. I think it's a shame they wasted the weightless concept on Qix, it would have worked a whole lot better if it were advertising some NASA game. Of course, when you read the subtitle, "Your Mind is Your Only Weapon," you realize that this is light years beyond NASA ... you control Qix with your mind, there's no need for the control. Oh, well, maybe that's not right. Whatever the case, this advert sucks.
My main concern with this Qix commercial is not the sucking or blowing of the young boy, but rather the what it says on the right-hand side. "It's Out of Control." Actually, it's NOT out of control ... the entire game is about taking back the board, controlling as much area as you can. The advertisers would have known that if they had read my review of Qix! Of course, these are the same people that wrote down that "others say it's outrageous." If this is outrageous, then I would hate to see what they thought of Lawrence Welk! What more can you expect from a commercial that promises "sophisticated" multiplayer action?
Okay I know; this is not a commercial for a video game or system, it's an advert for CH Products, a company that makes computer controls and cards. While this may not be our regular Commercial Break fodder, it does offer us a chance to look at something new and exciting. Okay, probably less on the exciting and more on the lame ... but
really, at this point we're just arguing about semantics. CH Products commercial is just as bad as any of the video game adverts we've already looked at, so they deserve their day in court too.
This is the kind of advertisement that ultimately makes no sense, leading to a number of good questions that we'll never have the answer to. I'll start with an obvious one, why is he at the beach letting all of his gear sit on the sand? I'm not an expert on this stuff, but I'm pretty sure that sand and computer parts were never meant to go together. While he's sitting there with the world's biggest smile, that water from the ocean is creeping up to wash those joysticks and trackballs away. I can understand bringing multiple controls for a few different types of games, but shouldn't they be on a towel or something?
But the angrier I get about the sand, the controls, and that ocean water, the more I realize that there's another big question dogging this advertisement. You have a jet firing missiles at the poorly dressed beach bum, you have a jet coming in as well ... but they both seem to be ignoring the UFO's directly behind them. Now c'mon, you aren't going to tell me that this beach guy is more of a threat than the Martians right behind them? Perhaps humans really are that stupid, but I'd like to have faith in our species. Unfortunately CH Products killed a little of that trust I had with humanity. Way to go guys.
Gaiares (pronounced Guy-R-Us) is one of the all time best 16-bit games of all time, it was praised by critics around the world and set a high water mark for 2D shooters that would not be matched for many years. But Renovation, the makers of Gaiares, were not content with letting GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly speak for them, they went ahead and found the stupidest looking guy they could find, tossed a red shirt on him, and had him hold up a couple of magazines. There is no point for this guy being in this advertisement, it's completely pointless and turns what could have been a great advert into something so bad it ended up in this Commercial Break section. But
as stupid looking as he is, and I'm assuming the people who took the photo made him look as good as possible, I wouldn't change him being there for the world.
It wasn't enough just quote EGM; they couldn't just do what everybody else does - so screenshots, have some artwork, etc. It's almost as if people wouldn't have believed those reviews if it weren't for this rosy-cheeked loser telling us that he happens to agree. Well good for you buddy, I think the world pretty much agrees that your mullet hairstyle is just about the stupidest thing they have ever seen in a video game magazine. Get a haircut dude, you're making all of us other "Professional Gamers" look bad! It would be one thing if it was just a small mullet, the type you might get if you haven't cut your hair for a few months ... but that bad boy is down to his shoulders; back at the trailer park I wouldn't be surprised if he was crowed king!
Unfortunately for this buck-teethed freak Renovation didn't have too many other critical hits, which meant that Jamie Bunker, "Professional Gamer," would have to go back to collecting food stamps. Oddly enough this is not the first time we've commented on bad looking hair in a Renovation advertisement, we made fun of the Valis-wannabe in our very first episode (The One With the Bad Advertisement). It's easy to just blame the time period, but there was never anything cool about a mullet. Perhaps it was this mullet guy who we have to blame for Gaiares' poor sales. Mullet guy, you make me so mad!