9. PLAYSTATION 3: THIS IS LIVING
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: Sony Playstation 3, which for any of you familiar with Sony’s advertising campaigns should already sound alarm bells as for what you’re in for.
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: The Playstation commercial to rule them all. Is is more than five minutes long and makes absolutely no sense. The closest it comes to referencing any Sony whatsoever is when it starts raining money at the 2-minute mark: clearly a reference to how Sony viewed itself following the success of PS2 sales.
8. SECRET OF EVERMORE
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: A follow-up to Square Soft’s Mana series.
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: A classic example of over-production, Secret of Evermore‘s North America ad probably made Ridley Scott weep when it first aired. This commercial has it all: Great graphics, fantastic animation, and a song whose sole lyric is the name of the game. And… unfortunately, that’s all we have to work with. (Except, again, the name of the game. They show it throughout the ad something like 100 times over 30 seconds.)
It’s quite clear that the people who produced this commercial have no idea what the fuck the game is about, or at the very least how to translate it into English. Result? Neither do we.
7. PLAYSTATION 2: HEAD
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: Seriously, try making sense of this ad. If you think those clown heads being shot out of cannons is a reference to Twisted Metal, it’s not. Those are just clown heads being shot out of cannons for the sake of artistic license.
6. SUPER MARIO WORLD 2: YOSHI’S ISLAND
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: When you think about it, the Super Mario World games are actually pretty tough to explain. What with all those magic power-ups and killer turtles and that weird sound Yoshi makes. To avoid all this for Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, this commercial took the really basic idea of a sequel having “more” stuff in it to recreate the classic Mr. Creosote sketch from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life…
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: …Which we should probably add is R-rated. Children’s television networks throughout the United States treated viewers to a horror that even David Fincher thought would have been too much for Se7en: A man eating food until he explodes, spraying everyone around him with undigested food and body chemicals.
While an affectionate tip-of-the-hat to one of the funniest Monty Python sketches of all time, someone should have probably told the producers behind this commercial that the game they were selling was intended for ages “kid to adult.”
5. JAPAN’S COMMERCIAL FOR LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: 1991 was an important year in the fourth generation of video game history. Sonic the Hedgehog was released on the Sega Genesis, Street Fighter II appeared in arcades, the SNES was unveiled, and a game known as The Legend of Zelda: The Triforce of the Gods hit stores in Japan. Better known as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in the West, it became one of the best-selling video games of the 16-bit era despite its bizarrely misleading commercial.
The North American ad for the game seemed to sum it up pretty well: something involving swords, dark mountains, the occasional mullet doing a somersault before being struck by lightning. In short, the single most awesome non-Ninja Turtle related video game 1991 had to offer.
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: Let’s put it this way: The 1990 commercial for Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker contained even less dancing than we see in Japan’s Legend of Zelda ad.
Please bear in mind there is absolutely no dancing in Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. On the contrary, Streets of Rage 3 has more dance sequences than could be found in The Legend of Zelda up to this point in the series. For some reason Nintendo thought the best way to push their product in Japan was to show as much dancing as their shoestring budget would allow while making sure to avoid not showing a single screenshot from the game. Still, as terrible as Nintendo’s original Legend of Zelda commercials came off, at least they make it clear that they’re selling a video game and not some sort of medieval-themed dance choreography class.
4. DAVID LYNCH’S PS2 COMMERCIALS
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: Um… video games?
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: Honestly, we think Sony knew exactly what they were going for when they picked David Lynch for the project. Mulholland Drive makes more sense than what he unleashed for this campaign.
3. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK’S AWAKENING
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, no doubt after Nintendo learned their lessons from their previous Zelda advertising campaigns.
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: While this Legend of Zelda commercial at least made the effort to show what the game kinda looks like, the lyrics to it rap–yes, rap–are so vague that you could literally reuse it for any game with ‘an overhead map.’
Down with Zelda from the very start. I got the heart; it’s mine to play the part. Z-Z-Zelda. Zelda. Peeping through with an overhead view. ‘Cause a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. So I stay on track, collect the facts. Never cut slack and I always watch my back. But jack. Z-Z-Zelda. Zelda. Do not stand. I’m the man with the plan. ‘Cause the powers in my hand and the powers in my hand. Z-Z-Zelda. Zelda.
In short, when you’re dealing with a commercial where you could swap the product with Minesweeper, Grand Theft Auto, or Assassin’s Creed II and the result would be just as ineffective, it becomes evident that the only real talent that went into this thing was by the company who somehow convinced Nintendo to get paid for it in the first place.
2. PHILIPS CD-I COMMERCIALS FEATURING PHIL HARTMAN
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: Philips’ answer to the Sega CD: an interactive multimedia CD player that could play games and movies as well as music.
WHAT IT COMES OFF AS: For one, we have absolutely no idea whether this is supposed to be advertised for kids or adults. In fact, we don’t know if Philips knew either.
The commercial shows the actual product for less than a second, opting instead to leave most of the advertising to a fictitious commercial within the commercial that Phil Hartman is watching, starring in and somewhat eerily commenting about. It’s like one of those SNL short films from the late 80s that was supposed to be more disturbing than funny. Judging from how well the Philips CD-I sold, we’re guessing whoever financed this bold endeavor in advertising did not think it was that funny either.
1. JUICED’S INTERNATIONAL ADVERT
WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SELLING: A racing video game that nobody would have ever heard of had it not been for this ad.
WWHAT IT COMES OFF AS: We don’t know, since we are pretty sure that the front seats of most cars are used for driving and not for video games. Nevertheless, whoever was behind this commercial sure as hell knew how they wanted to sell their product: by slapping it on a nearly-naked woman’s ass as crudely as misogynistically possible—which we are pretty sure is a word now because of this commercial.