Jul 12 2012
Growing up there weren’t many who didn’t like Star Fox. I mentioned earlier how important graphics were to kids during this time, and Nintendo tried to capitalize on this excitement with their Super FX Chip, available only with Star Fox. I don’t know if it was the exclusivity or the fact that fans will hype anything you give them, especially kids, but we spent hours in schooling peddling knowledge regarding that damn microchip. Anytime someone read something in Nintendo Power or some other magazine we would discuss its implications, “did you know if Star Fox does well that means every game is going to get one?!”
The game was a success, everyone loved Star Fox, but the chip wasn’t. Eventually our excitement died down as did information about the chip until it became another throw-away fad like Pogs or snap bracelets. It did help hype the game though, and at the time Star Fox did feel like a next-gen and a half game because of it.
Again we see another example of tech being marketed in lieu of gameplay, which was how it was done in those days. The first bullet point we hear in the commercial is that the game is “24 megs, Nintendo’s biggest game ever!” Because, you know, ten year olds get stoked when they hear about file size. To be honest it really was a robust game, for Super Nintendo it was one of the biggest in terms of raw content, but that doesn’t mean I care about the file size.
And then there’s the dog and the scientist, which I assume is supposed to be Nintendo’s QA lab. I get their bad-ass dog turned puppy analogy, which was again aimed at accessing the “intense” and “rebellious” side of my generation. Are we beginning to see a trend here? Even as a kid I felt pandered to because after all of that I didn’t really know any more about the game. So of course I ran out and bought it.
Final Fantasy III
This one is my favorite because it really doesn’t reflect the game, the plot, the story, or any of the characters whatsoever. They even used Mog, one of the game’s mute characters, to market the game, giving him a pseudo-Brooklyn accent while he zaps monsters auditioning for a part in the game. It’s ludicrous. They must have been afraid of marketing a turn-based JRPG to a young “intense” American market, so they just lied and made it something else, you can even hear a Beastie Boys guitar riff in the background at the end.
It’s one thing if you have the internet and an almost unlimited amount of sites dedicated to giving you the scoop on a newly released or upcoming game, but back then the commercials were it, unless you subscribed to Nintendo Power or something. In the end it didn’t matter I was happy when I got it, though it made the commercial seem even sillier.
Super Punch Out
This game didn’t need a commercial; Punch Out was already a classic. They could have run an ad with the message “Super Punch Out has been released” on a sheet of paper and my local Babbages would have been out in minutes. So even though this commercial is bad, silly and humorous maybe, but definitely bad, I don’t think it affected sales one way or the other. They didn’t even bother to get a guy who looks like the game’s character (more on that in the next one).
You can see that there are a few characters, including Bald Bull, who have returned, that is if you can manage follow the half-second clips of gameplay, annoying isn’t it? They also show the guy losing miserably, making the game look difficult which is a good thing to someone who beat the original. In the end this commercial was an enormous waste of money, they could have brought in the dinosaur from the Street Fighter II commercial and everyone would still have run out to buy it.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
This was the third Zelda game in the franchise, and by then every kid my age knew exactly how Link was supposed to look. I remember seeing this when I was a kid and thinking, “Some acrobatic dude with a mullet is stealing the Master Sword.” It’s almost as if Link’s stunt double filmed this, channeling his best He-Man impersonation.
This is the best example of a commercial from this era; there’s no gameplay, no mention of plot or story, just a kind of cinematic announcement of the release of a new game with a few generic descriptions of how this game is the biggest, the best, or the most intense ever. This was one of the biggest games on the SNES at the time, and yet this commercial was the best they could come up with. It’s funny and I can laugh at it now, but as a kid hoping to catch a glimpse of new gameplay it’s tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Sometimes the amount of information we have regarding a release can be overwhelming; interviews, Facebook pages, developers diaries, endless news coverage, etc., and even though most of what we’re exposed to is still marketing plain and simple, I have to say that I’m happy it’s become more informative. Whether or not you think today’s games are better or worse, at least now-a-days you have a better idea of what you’re getting in to, without spending hours trying to find a dinosaur in Street Fighter II that doesn’t’ exist.
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