Ten of the Best Super Nintendo Commercials from my Childhood

My expression at 10 years of age during a Super Nintendo commercial. 

Imagine you’re ten years old and your idea of a matching outfit is purple sweat pants, an f-16 fighter jet shirt, and a neon orange hat with the words “POWERBASE” written across it in large black letters. You’re a good kid, an avid gamer, slowly approaching your pre-teen years when you receive a Super Nintendo for your birthday. You’re me in the summer of 1992.

It didn’t take me long for to develop a keen sense of when a commercial for a new Super Nintendo game was on. Most of them were different, but I had a sixth sense and would run to the TV if I thought I heard a fireball, sword clash, laser blast, or any other type of typically fictional combat sound. At first it didn’t matter as I was psyched to play any game I saw, but eventually I wised up and wanted to see nothing but actual gameplay. I didn’t get what I wanted. Below are ten Super Nintendo commercials for games from my childhood, and just like when I was a kid the spasmodic micro-snippets of gameplay they show are almost never enough to formulate an opinion. Perhaps that was the point; I ended up buying most of these regardless – ah those were the days.

Killer Instinct


All I can say is “Wow, 16 bits!” All the quick editing and grainy documentary-like footage reminds me of those cheesy after school specials about staying away from drugs. Interviewing kids on the street or away from their parents because, you know, Killer Instinct was way too intense for parents to see. Nothing says rebellious like playing Killer Instinct without parental consent, right? At the time it seemed like a really edgy and extreme move, but in reality it was most likely a calculated marketing technique.

A few years before Mortal Kombat was release on the SNES with all of the in-game blood replaced with awkward gray sweat, a decision designed to keep parents from boycotting the game. But the Sega Genesis version did have blood, at least if you had the code, and even though people were “outraged” at the violence it pretty much became the only version any kid wanted to play. After that games kind of stopped worrying about parental outrage which would eventually lead to this Killer Instinct commercial telling kids to pretty much screw what their parents think. Radical!

Super Mario Kart


This commercial shows just how much Nintendo games were marketed to children even though the original Nintendo generation was becoming teenagers. The Killer Instinct commercial spoke to me as a pre-teen, someone who was suddenly worried about looking cool to his peers. This Super Mario Kart Commercial, however, was something I could never admit to liking as a kid, it was too cartoony and childish, and I was too cool and mature. Still though, I was ten and my warped sense of what was cool or not couldn’t stop me from being curious. It was a racing game featuring Nintendo characters, and even though most SNES games were “super” version of original titles, Super Mario Kart was the first of its kind.

The idea that video games are for kids was something that permeated the industry for a long time, this commercial being just one example. But everyone wasn’t Nintendo, and some companies did manage to market racing games in a way that didn’t seem cheesy, which leads me to…



Now this looks like a game I can tell my friends I have. Ignoring the bright orange shirt and lame special effects, a commercial that showed a game’s “intensity” like this was right up my alley, at first at least. Remember, this came from a time when “how are the graphics?” was the first question asked when talking about a game. Considering that racing games (even the ones I loved) had looked like this up until then, F-Zero seemed like a pretty insane upgrade. I mean there were more than two vehicle choices and about twice as much gameplay, but as a kid all you see is the jump from 8 to 16 bits.

Castlevania IV


You can tell by the commercial that the Castlevania series was in dire need of an overhaul by the time the fourth was released for the Super Nintendo. Even the announcer seems to have trouble getting excited about “the evil Count Dracula, back to terrorize the Belmont family yet again.” I mean some of this commercial’s selling points are just ridiculous “battle across a bridge, through a room and a stable.” I remember this commercial for being really long and awkward, with the announcer not really talking about the game, but giving a really boring walkthrough. It was pretty much a 16 bit version of the 8 bit version that everyone already liked. It wasn’t a bad game, not that I recall, but it was definitely becoming well worn territory by the mid 90s.

Eventually this would lead them to N64s god awful Castlevania remake which remains the biggest let-down of my gaming career to this day.

Street Fighter II


Street Fighter II didn’t need much hype as everyone already knew what it was. There wasn’t a bowling alley or arcade in my area that didn’t have a Street Fighter II arcade machine. I wasn’t very good, as you had to pay in order to practice, but I still had some experience and I knew how to throw “a fireball” as we called it. So when I saw the commercial on TV I remember thinking “why is there a dinosaur?”

I know how much everyone likes to make fun of Japanese commercials for being weird and nonsensical, but some of the imagery in this commercial is really out of left field, I mean there’s a dinosaur and it snarls into the camera at the end. I don’t know if this was made by Japan for American audiences or just by some inept American ad company, but either way its randomness makes it memorable in the very least.

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  1. That Zelda commercial also looks just like those “The Few, The Proud, The Marines” commercials. In fact it could have been that commercial right up to the point where it showed the games title.

  2. Commercials sucked back then. None of these do the SNES justice whatsoever.

    Ironically the best one was probably the one for FFVI despite it being a commercial for a butchered, false-titled version of the original game, just like all western FF releases before VII.

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