5 Really Weird Video Game Commercials
The video game market can be an unforgivably competitive place, meaning one has to pull out all the stops in order to stand above the riffraff. That’s why the savvy advertising agency knows if the consumer limelight is what you’re desperate for, then you’ve got to be willing to get a little weird. Strange sells, and these 5 memorable commercials have stuck with us long after we purchased the games they were peddling!
1) The Jungle Book
There was a singular golden rule of advertising during the ‘90s: You either go extreme or you go home—often translating to “pile on the heavy metal.” This ad for The Jungle Book isn’t without such face-melting accompaniment, but that’s hardly what’s weird here. It’s that jungle guy. The aggressive, no-concept-of-personal-space jungle guy who’s just a little too insistent on seeing you run around in red underwear. Should’ve stuck with playing The Lion King...
2) Mario Party 3
If you stop watching this ad right before they start showing clips from Mario Party 3, it turns into a short Tim Burton-esque film about a young boy’s struggle with narcolepsy. A childhood missed whilst dreaming. Poignant.
3) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
This is Japan’s commercial for Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. It has whimsy. It’s endearing. And most importantly, it couldn’t be anymore relevant to the game being advertised. For once in its life Japan didn’t do anything weird or nightmare-inducing—which sadly can’t be said for the U.S. “Soooo,” thought Nintendo of America’s advertisers, “what can we do to resonate with our young and easily frightened target demographic?” They puzzled, and puzzled, and puzzled until someone suggested, “Hey, let’s blatantly rip off Monty Python's Meaning of Life and have a guy eat until he explodes." (Down to the final comic beat where he takes the fateful last bite... seriously, someone should get a copyright lawyer on the phone.)
The commercial for Vanguard starts out like every typical video game ad from the ‘80s, with a bunch of kids crowding in front of the TV and passing the joystick around in rehearsed excitement. That is until, after descending the staircase with all the swagger of Frankenstein’s monster, Luther shows up—destroyer of Gonds and forceful liberator of other kids’ lunch money. And his post-victory laugh is the kind of dim-witted guffaw that only comes from watching two squirrels getting frisky at the park. Serious question though: does Luther hang out upstairs until Gonds need destroying or did he just happen to walk in at the right time?
5) Game Boy Advance
What many people didn’t realize back then was that the release of the Game Boy Advance coincided with Nintendo of America’s pretentious dadaist phase, repeated viewings of Predator, and its flourishing appreciation for professional wrestling—clearly evidenced by the questionable direction the company decided to take their campaign for the GBA. The somewhat incomprehensible commercial was an obvious success given the game system’s astronomical sales numbers, but that didn’t prevent Nintendo’s Japanese parent branch from launching an office-wide drug test for its western counterpart.
Which commercial do you think is the weirdest?