Where Did All the Good Game Ads Go?

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Published by Jim Sterling 9 years ago , last updated 2 years ago

(This is another edition of , a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

Videogame commercials are a load of old crap these days, which is obviously some sort of stark commentary on the industry itself — or it would be if I could be bothered to make one. Instead, I’m just going to focus on the fact that advertising is lazy and bullshit now, and it’s about time we saw some real effort go back into our game marketing. I’m sick of watching another family of dicks dancing around like spasticated ferrets in front of a Kinect. I’m tired of those smug GameFly ads where people with trendy haircuts pretend to cry about whatever shit game they bought instead of pirating like REAL people.

What I want is Rik Mayall dressed up like a spaceman to tell us about Super Mario All-Stars. Like we used to have!

That’s Rik Mayall, in a futuristic leather jacket, making scientists play Mario games until they go insane. Do you have commercials like that now? Do you? No, you f**king don’t! Your life is awful now. Of course, to be fair, the fact Rik Mayall isn’t doing much of anything these days severely harms the entertainment industry at large. Here he is advertising some crappy racing game that nobody care’s about, parodying a British racing driver none of you remember or knew in the first place:

Of course, the videogame characters themselves used to be more pro-active in their own advertising, and I’m not just talking about Nathan Drake acting like a cock while holding a Subway sandwich. I’m talking about the time when Wario was nothing like the borderline retarded manufacturer of minigames that he is today. Back when he was actually legitimately creepy, in an “I may have sex with you and damn your lack of consent” kind of way.

Just look at him! He was terrifying back in the 90′s, issuing unspecified threats as a disembodied head while attempting to hypnotize children. Do we get anything like that out of Nintendo now? No! The latest commercial for Super Mario 3D Land is a load of old wank. It’s some idiot kid who wishes he was Justin Bieber, running around a collection of crappy CGI Goombas and wearing a stupid hoodie that makes him look like a sniveling little testicle. That’s not what game commercials used to be about. They used to be about making people either laugh or shit themselves with terror.

But it was Sony that was the master of this. Sony’s commercials, back in the good old days, were things of pure genius. There was none of this Kevin Butler shit. No confusing “Make.Believe” crap. For the PlayStation, we had S.A.P.S — a series of commercials starring a man who was Stephen Colbert before Stephen Colbert was Stephen Colbert. Don’t believe me? Just watch:

As you can see, the commercial also accurately portrays what would eventually happen to PlayStation fanboys — as any visit to N4G will demonstrate.

S.A.P.S is a largely forgotten ad series, but something that really resonate with gamers at the time of its broadcast was the following segment for the PlayStation. This is the kind of thing you truly don’t see anymore. While ads these days are keen only on letting us know that the next set of dismally grey video clips are “actual gameplay footage”, Sony back in the day was giving kids nightmares and scrambling brains across the world with nightmare fuel like this:

So I ask, where did all the good game ads go?

Why can’t I see Rik Mayall, sex-pest Warios, pre-Colbert Colberts and freaky Scottish alien girls anymore?

Because clearly, this is something worth bitching about.

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