Archive for November, 2011

Videogame Christmas Commercials (Warm and Fuzzies Sold Separately)

Seasons Greetings, Dear Readers! With the advent of Advent, my schedule has been freed up somewhat and I’m able to spent more time on the literary black-hole that is tele-games 2600. The Christmas season is in full swing — evident by the green and red knickknacks that stores have had out since fucking July. I mean, really, why go through the trouble of putting out that shit early when people are only going to scoff, make the same tired joke that I just did, and not buy it until they absolutely have to i.e. December?

Furthermore, what’s the deal with egg nog? I don’t taste any egg, and what is a nog, anyway?

Irregardless, I love the accoutrement that the holidays always bring. Slushing my way to the 2nd floor of Macy’s just to prance around in nutcrackers and rainbow starbursts they have strung about, drooling over things I could only afford on a Zuckerberg salary; it’s all part of the magic of capitalism Christmas! Even though I’ve somehow managed to become more cynical with age, I still love to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just to see a marathon of holiday cheer on my television screen.

Lately though, ad agencies have sort of dropped the ball on delivering the yuletide goods. It seems like Christmas commercials nowadays are completely committed to selling to the 1%; I can’t afford to buy a new car for my “loved one” (for that is what I call myself), nor can I plunk down several grand for a diamond simply because it’s that time of the year.

And even in the rare instances where, say, Hershey’s are playing their classic, score old commercial in which green and red kisses chime to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, the damn thing is too old and blurry to watch on my high definition television set.

But that’s not really their fault. The fact is, their heart’s are in the right place. On today’s episode of “Stupid Videogame Shit No One Cares About” we are revisiting videogame Christmas commercials that deliver the warm and the fuzzies, and because they’re displayed at YouTube’s standard resolution, the blurriness will only add to the nostalgia.

Most of these commercials have what I feel are crucial ingredients to a great Christmas commercial:

– Lots of snow

– Set at night

– The most heartwarming rendition of every Christmas tune

– Families hugging

– Inquisitive dog

– Faceless corporation wishing viewers “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”

First up is a Pepsi/Nintendo crossover event supposedly from 1989. I’m kind of ambivalent about the date. If this commercial did indeed air in ’89, Nintendo would be trying to hype Super Mario Bros. 3 and not its salad tossing predecessor. But then again, the commercial plays up the Game Boy, which was released in ’89. Hmm…

The commercial begins with Mario marching into a grocery store during a particularly chilly night. I’m not sure if this was intentional on the animation team’s part, but Mario clearly jumps over and avoids a fruits and vegetables stand in favor of a giant Pepsi display, where upon he is granted Santa-like powers. It seems like some sort of tongue-in-cheek joke that the idol of many an 80’s kid would prefer sugar water over food with nutritional value. But I digress.

Our mighty Mario, now endowed with Kris Kringle’s powers and forever endowed with his weight, starts whipping NES Action Sets and copies of Super Mario Bros. 2 into shopper’s carts. Best of all (according to the commercial), the sensational new Game Boy is up for grabs. In retrospect, it’s funny that anyone (myself included) would’ve gotten excited over a portable NES that was barely functional and ran on way too many batteries. Tetris was the pack-in game for a reason; it was slow enough for anyone to follow on that horrible blurry screen.

On a scale from Hannukah to Christmas, I give this commercial a solid 9. Solid gold.

This next commercial (and I’m only including it in the number 2 slot so I don’t immediately turn readers away) stars morbidly obese soul singer Aretha Franklin dressed up as (what else?) Santa Claus. She’s taking a taxi home in a picturesque Christmas environment and though it’s not directly implied, the commercial seems to say that she’s gonna bust a $99 NES Action Set on her relatives for Christmas, thanks to Target’s low low prices.

These commercials always seem to play up the moment when someone opens a gift or someone finally meets their relatives for the holiday, but never the awkward aftermath.

INT. FRANKLIN HOUSEHOLD – NIGHT

A blizzard rages on outside as Aretha Franklin and her parents awkwardly sit in the living room. A grandfather clock TICKS and TOCKS with every passing second.

MOTHER FRANKLIN: So how’s your career going?

ARETHA: Pretty good.

MOTHER FRANKLIN: (smiling) That’s good to hear.

FATHER FRANKLIN: So what is this you brought us?

ARETHA: It’s a Nintendo Action Set.

FATHER FRANKLIN: …

ARETHA: It was only $99 at Target. Comes with Super Mario and Duck Hunt.

FATHER FRANKLIN: Did you just say what I thought you said?

ARETHA: No, I said “Duck — Hunt

FATHER FRANKLIN: (ambivalent murmur) I don’t know why you wasted money on that, we got a perfectly good Colcowvision in the den.

NIECE FRANKLIN: I like it! Thanks, Auntie Urethra!

FATHER FRANKLIN: Sweetie, I don’t know how to bring this up gingerly, so I’ll be blunt: You’re putting on weight, lay off the Twinkies.

ARETHA: Dad!

FATHER FRANKLIN: Listen, I’m not clairvoyer or nuthin’ but if you don’t stop eatin’ them Little Debbies, you’re gonna look like that fat slug from the Stars War!

NIECE FRANKLIN: Return of the Jedi, Unkie Franklin!

FATHER FRANKLIN: What-everrr!

See? Totally awkward. I give this commercial a 7. Solid meat.

Next up on the docket for duckets, TWO Toys R’ Us commercials! It’s a shame these died out with Reaganomics, but Toys R’ Us commercials are the most pervertedly picturesque children’s ads ever. They typically involve a preamble that serves as an excuse to get a child to mince around with an actor (presumably desperate for his SAG card) in a giraffe costume in the most celestial Toys R’ Us store.

The first one is pretty amusing for its absurdity. An old man starts telling his grandson a horrible story in which he falls asleep in a Toys R’ Us store, and instead of having the police called on him by the toothless cleaning crew, the child awakens to a magical realm where a man in a dirty costume escorts him around the store.

Cut to: The warmest, most idyllic representation of Super Mario Bros. screen EVER. Against a pink and blue starry background, Mario hops and bops his away round World 1-1. This is what makes Christmas commercials great. They take something so permeated into the social consciousness (Coca-Cola, Old Navy, John Tesh) and somehow turn it into the most heart-warming, life-assuring thing ever. Makes me want to grab a grog of hot chocolate, a very thick blanket, and a narcoleptic dog and play that Mario shit all night long.

In the second commercial, another nameless boy falls asleep and dreams of owning a Toys R’ Us store. The store featured is the same we saw in the last one. Forgive me, but it is my nature to apply reality to old commercials. Can you imagine if this dream came true? A seven year old kid is suddenly thrust into the position of store manager, and instead of traipsing around the store, ripping open toys at his whim, he has to discipline his unruly teenage employees, call the authorities on the latest homeless man to claim residence in the store’s foyer, and groan at the latest poop-trastrophy in the lavatory.

We cut to the same Vaseline smeared footage of Super Mario Bros., then back to reality where the kid’s old brother nonchalantly informs him that he just woke up from a dream where he won the Super Bowl. The younger brother says (in regards to his Toys R’ Us dream), “I had a better dream.” Who dreams of this shit? I won’t bother chastising the Super Bowl dream because the NFL is not my forté, but I know toys and videogames and have never had such a stupid dream in my life! The closest I ever got involved the Nickelodeon Super Toy Run contest where kids would go on a five minute shopping spree and grab whatever they wanted in the time allotted. Even in my youth, I couldn’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t just b-line to the videogame section and clothesline the shelves for every Nintendo and Sega product available at the time. Those were the sweetest plums, but the winning kid always managed to waste precious time with filler like “Barbies” and “LEGOs”. Give me a fucking break!

Sorry, I’ve had too much to drink. I give these two an 8.

Even less tangentially related to videogames than the Aretha Franklin ad is this 7up Christmas commercial. It has all the hallmarks of a classic 7up ad; shades-sporting spots, antics, live-action seamlessly spliced with 2D animation. It’s all there. This ad goes back to the days when snipping “points” from soda labels in massive quantities would yield prizes. The prize here being the Spot game for Game Boy. I never played it, but I did play the Cool Spot game for Genesis, so I’m predisposed to like any 7up licensed videogame. Thanks Dave Perry.

Man, that final image this commercial has. Dark ambiance, bright Christmas lights, jazzy Christmas music. Can’t get any better. I give this one a 9.

Our next commercial is for the critically-acclaimed game E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Now, I firmly believe this game isn’t the worst game ever made — that unfair label seemed to come about due to lazy spurious “journalism” that quickly fed into itself — but the dichotomy between commercial and game couldn’t be much greater.

Keep in mind this could very well be the first commercial ever made for the E.T. videogame. This commercial was hyping people up for a game they didn’t already know was shit. How’s that for poignant?

It’s a blustery winter night, and unannounced and dressed in Santa regalia, E.T. waddles inside the house of his earthbound chum, Elliott. Being the impatient, inarticulate puppet that he is, E.T. uses his celestial powers to toss Elliott’s present aside and rip open his own before Christmas official starts. And voila! The present turns out to be none-other than the very videogame which bears his name. Christ, didn’t anyone at Atari bother to throw him a free copy for allowing him the use of his life story? Do E.T.s even have the concept of litigation?

This is the most Christmassy commercial of the lot, so I’m going to preemptively award it a perfect 10 out of 10. But there is one issue I have and its with the logic of the commercial. As evidenced by the movie, this is a one parent household, and said parent seems to be asleep as a roaring fire rages on in the house’s hearth. Clearly, the fact that their mother seems to be disconnected from reality serves to augment the film’s storyline. Ah well.

Our penultimate commercial has jacked me up on da warm und fuzzies, and while our last one isn’t as great, it’s still pretty stupid.

It’s another Atari commercial, this time taking place in the future where a family resides in a space station. The patriarch hears a horrible crash and dashes to the command center, where he runs across the most gregarious Santa Claus ever seen on television ever.

I think I’ve mentioned this concept in my last entry, but I’m always baffled when commercials introduce an already insane premise and somehow find a way to amp it up to absurd degrees. Okay, this family lives in space, that’s a pill I can swallow. Big crash, alright? Don’t tell me, I know where this is going. Dad’s gonna save the day using his skills at Asteroids, right?

Nope, turns out the noise came from the most ecstatic Santa ever, who managed to freak out the rest of the family by playing Centipede way too loud. This must be a common occurrence for the Space Johnson 500 family, because instead of trying to beat the living shit out of the intruder like normal human beings would, they sit placated and watched as he plays Pole Position for a bit.

Santy Claus drops off a bunch of ancient videogames and beams off, Star Trek-style. It’s a nice commercial but nothing special. Just mostly insane.

I give this one an 8… outta 5.

Welp, that does it for this entry. Tune in the following weeks for more articles about those Christmas races from Diddy Kong Racing and other Christmassy stuff.

…Christmas!

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving! Don’t overdose on tryptophan!

Yo! Noid – A! Review

Dear Readers, I have to apologize. About… n’yeeeeee six months ago I promised to wax excessive on the merits of the Zelda Oracle games. Actually, you know what? I take that apology back. Looking at the site statistics, it’s become clear to me that the only reason anyone ever visits this site is because they typed Oregon Ducks or Stephen Hawking into a search bar, and instead of actually learning about those subjects, they’re treated to some beanpole blathering about crappy Atari games.

I have to admit, while I’m writing this, I have a window open on a live stream of the Occupy Wall St. “movement” (a misnomer if I ever saw one) in New York City. This thing has been going on for a while, but I still can’t wrap my mind around the idea that a bunch of smelly layabouts are going to change the basic principles of democracy in our country. It’s like trying to cure cancer by watching reruns of Doogie Howser: M.D.; you can kind of see the connection, but it’s still entirely specious.

In the end, the antics of these odorous and onerous dopes may have the impact of a whiffle bat to a pillow, but if they think camping out in the cold for weeks on end and inhaling tear gas makes them feel better, who are we to judge?

Which brings us lovingly to tele-Games 2600‘s review of the NES “classic” (another misnomer) Yo! Noid.

You may remember the Noid; a relic of times past, this creature’s sole purpose in life was to destroy each and every Domino’s Pizza.

What was it with companies that had mascots bent on destroying their products? I mean, I get the idea that their pizzas are so impenetrable that a lunatic in pajamas couldn’t destroy them but it just sounds nutty.

Here’s a commercial for those who don’t quite remember the character:

 

Fucking insane, right? The Noid became so popular, reserved Japanese developer Capcom set out to secure the license from Domino’s and slapped the bunny-eared maniac over some old Japanese game that no one cared about until said bunny-eared maniac was applied.

The story is as follows; Mr. Green (who is basically the Noid wearing green pajamas) is running amok in New York City. Before Mayor Koch has the chance to declare martial law, the Noid steps up to stop his green counterpart.

You know, it’s one thing to center a game around a completely insane premise (a man in red pajamas destroys pizzas); it’s another to reject that completely insane premise and replace it with one just as insane (a man in red pajamas must stop a man in green pajamas from bothering New York). The Noid drops his quest to squish-a da pies in order to stop the Green Scare.

If there was one word that could accurately sum this game up, it would be “average.” It’s a pretty humdrum platformer. You run around, fling yo-yos at scrunchy looking Will Vinton creations, and in between each level, you suffer an excruciatingly boring pizza eating contest with the local gang leader. There’s a bit of strategy involved with these contests, but they become much easier if you know where to find the relevant power-ups within the preceding levels.

The levels are varied enough to keep it somewhat interesting. If it wasn’t for the horrible hit detection on the skateboarding level, and the aforementioned pizza battles, this game would be a lot easier to stomach. But since I’m lactose intolerant, I find Yo! Noid to be twice as painful!

Yo! Noid has one thing going for it. The game perpetuates the fine tradition of “Music to Find Your Wife’s Bloated Corpse to” that NES games did so well. I don’t know what it is, but that crappy sound chip can really bring out the terror in people. Just listen to this:

 

Past entries include the Dragon Warrior overworld music, and that music that plays when you run into a Nintendo employee in Game Boy Camera.

 

 

The game ends with the Noid taking down Mr. Green, and being rewarded with pizzas, which he goes absolutely apeshit over. I don’t get it. This game royally fucks with his baser instincts. Noids destroy pizzas. That’s what they do. That’s all they do.

Oh well, the game only cost me 4 bucks at a used game store.

So, that leaves us with the aforementioned question; If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? Would anyone care if Yo! Noid never existed? Would anyone care if I never wrote another word on this blog GO DUCKS? Probably not, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is what Capcom felt; they loved the Noid so much they wanted to honor him, by golly. And I love being stupid on a WordPress blog, and by gum I’m a-gonna keep a-doin’ it.

Though you may be schizophrenic, Noid, you will not be forgotten.


In researching this post, I couldn’t help but laugh at the story of Kenneth Lamar Noid. He was just a simple man who wanted $100,000 for all the “anguish” he’s had to endure all his life.

I’m sure if he were alive today, Kenneth would be on Wall Street…

…having his teeth knocked out with a police baton.