Where there are things being sold, there are advertisements. Generally, you want your ad to be funny, catchy, or memorable in some way. Sometimes that means going balls-to-the-wall weird. The following are the Top 10 most bizarre video game ads on the planet.
#10 – Killer Instinct
This ad was part of Nintendo's super awkward adolescence during the mid-90s when the phrase “Play it loud” was shot out of plaid-barreled, grunge-rock powered cannons at 200 miles per hour straight into your brain. Basically, if you were a video game company in the mid 90s, and you're running an ad campaign, you want something as abrasive and “rebellious” as possible. And what's more rebellious than kids cussin'?
That's right, Mom, these 16-bits aren't f&(*ing for you! They're for f*&^ing me! I'm gonna go downstairs and play f(*&ing video games so loud, you'll have no choice but to ground me forever! No more quietly playing video games with my friends! Those days are f*&^ing numbered! S&%$, b(*^$#!
#9 – Darkstalkers
During the 90's, Capcom pretty much had the market cornered on commercials that were, visually speaking, interesting, groundbreaking, creepy, fucking bizarre. There's just no other way to accurately describe it.
I think the Darkstalkers characters are supposed to be imposing here? I really can't tell. Because when I think imposing, I don't think “muppet”. But that's what Capcom opted to go with. Except for Morrigan, who still manages to be super hot, despite the foam batwings coming out of her head.
God, even I cringed when I typed that.
Anyhow, what really sold this commercial for me was the scowling guy at the end. You put some bushy eyebrows on him, and you've got yourself a scowling Bert from Sesame Street. Magnifique!
Also, the music is just… great.
#8 The Legend of Zelda
This is like an ad from the 1960s was trapped in a glacial ravine and encased in ice for 30 years. Then, in the far flung future of the 1980s, it was unfrozen by some Madison Avenue ad-men. When the ice was cleared away they found your typical 60's dorky kid, and typical 60's cool kid followed by a 60s slogan that vaguely endorses the need for parental supervision in all aspects of a kid's life. It's all here.
Except, this is the 80s! Those dang kids are into the wrapping music these days, so let's get some of those beatsboxes and set 'em up while the kids read their weird poems. Alright, now put it on the air! Who wants this? Nintendo? OK! It's theirs!
#7 – Mortal Kombat 3
Had there been no clips of Mortal Kombat 3 spliced into this commercial, I would have thought “Good God! The stop smoking ad campaign is getting out of control!” What about this commercial has anything to do with Mortal Kombat 3? Some teenager is being rushed to the hospital because of a bad case of smokers lung? Or appendicitis? Did he kiss a face-hugger on a wild under-the-bleachers dare?
I think the company behind this ad probably blew this off until the last minute. Maybe they got a little buzzed on hi-balls before their big presentation with Midway, panicked, and remembered they had a rejected commercial for Aliens lying around, and like, why let it go to waste?
#6 – Street Fighter II Turbo
First off, the singing in this video is hilarious. At about 15 seconds in, the vocalist on this track sort of lets it all fly. Clearly, he doesn't give half a shit what you corporate types think. He's in this for the music, man.
Secondly, HOLY SHIT DID YOU GUYS SEE GUILE'S HAIR!? What!? How did they do that? I get the feeling that whoever made this commercial knew that would be my reaction. They never give a full-frontal shot of Guile's golden, wheaty locks until the very end. But they knew I wanted to see that hair as soon as I realized which character was in this commercial. The bastards! They've got me zeroed in!
#5 Earthworm Jim
The truly funny thing about this is, you probably think that nothing on this countdown could be creepier than a sweet old lady devouring a bowl of earthworms while the Satan boils up inside of her. Hahaha! You poor, poor thing.
#4 Yoshi's Island
“Kids love puke, right? No? Aww, fuck it. Put it on the air, anyways. We already sunk $400 grand into this thing.”
At least, that's how I imagine this whole debacle went down in some board room somewhere.
Look, I get the metaphor here. I think we all do. But did you have to visualize this with a guy who explodes into a stream of vomit? Couldn't it have just been a really huge water balloon or something? I really loved this game as a kid, and having to explain this commercial to my parents was something of a near-roadblock to their purchasing it for me. Isn't that sort of thing the opposite of what you're going for with an ad?
I guess Yoshi eats a lot of stuff, so it makes sense in a thematic way. But, come on, guys! Have a little self-respect.
Well, thank God there aren't any more weird ads like that in this day and age.
#3 – PS3
Aww, God dammit! I thought we left this shit behind in the 90s! What does this ad mean anyhow? Is the PS3 raising babies? Is that why it has that weird hump? Is it actually a pregnant PS2?
And what's with the weird laughing? It reminds me of that talking ventriloquist’s dummy from the Twilight Zone. The funny thing is, after the weird laughing stopped, it seemed like this ad was going to turn itself around, but then things get even more pear-shaped. Why in the hell is the baby crying? And what is it looking at?
If you can explain that, please explain why its tears go back into its eyes. Does the PS3 reverse sadness? Is that what they're getting at here? I'm just confused.
#2 – Resident Evil 4 [NSFW]
See! I told you shit got creepier than that Earthworm Jim ad. In a way, I guess it only makes sense that it was an ad for a Resident Evil game.
The best thing about this ad is, if, like me, you're into the ladies, this follows the exact same arc for every one of us. You probably started off thinking “Yes, I like where this is going, tell me more” then about 20 seconds in your boner shriveled faster than if you dipped it into a sno-cone machine.
If not, nice job, perv, you're into zombies.
Really though, what the hell is up with Capcom's commercials? Can they just not bring themselves to make a middle-of-the-road, everyday commercial about a video game? What happened to the good old days of kids swearing, and rapping about The Legend of Zelda?
I want to invent an award just so I can give it to Capcom for being consistently bizarre in their ad campaigns over the years. That kind of shit really takes some dedication. Those Nintendo guys could have given Capcom a run for their money, but Nintendo lost their zest for weird ads somewhere around the N64 era.
Good to see Capcom is still going strong.
#1 – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Speaking frankly here, I never realized that a video game could provide good source material for interpretive dance. But, I'll be damned if this ad doesn't prove that point beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The combination of the campy dancing, the campy music, the campy cinematography and the campy costumes created some wonderful singularity that could only be matched by the camp-infused love child that would be the natural end result of the entire Brady Bunch having a wild one-night stand with the entire Osmond family (can't use birth control, naturally). It's just… so enjoyable for everyone involved, yet so indescribably embarrassing, and probably shameful, that the only option is to sweep it under the rug and never speak of it again.
But that isn't what'll happen.
That is the essence of weird, campy crap. It's the brass ring that every ad on this list was trying to grab. Not only does this stick in your head like a glob of bubble gum, you want to share it too. You want your friends to see it, because it's just too good to not include them. Believe it or not, that was the goal of every ad on this list: to be so weird that you just can't help yourself, and you have to expose someone else to it.
Catchy music, funny dance, weird costumes – all of these things equal a complete non-sequitor when it comes to what its actually advertising. This Legend of Zelda ad encapsulates weirdness perfectly.