March 30, 2006 3:42 PM |
['Game Ads A-Go-Go' is a weekly column by Vintage Computing and Gaming's RedWolf that showcases good, bad, strange, funny, and interesting classic video game-related advertisements, most of which are taken from his massive classic game magazine collection.]
At some point in the early nineties it became wildly fashionable for video game publishers to threaten your bodily health. Everything was "In Your Face!" and "Attitude!" and "Play it Loud!" which is exactly why I played it quietly. Unlike my other gaming brethren, I didn't want to die. And that, my friends, is why I am still here to bring you these next three examples of shameless attempts on gamers' lives.
"Kills Gamers Dead"
What at first seems to be a wonderful, helpful product from Konami turns out instead to be a deadly poison. As we saw last week, Konami clearly wants you to die. So they have no shame in putting out liquid video games with "toxic levels of excitement." That means, in plain terms, that they are trying to poison you to death. Their games also make you urinate uncontrollably ("32 Bladder Loosening oz."), but not because they're laced with diuretics. No -- it's just because you die.
This is Exactly Why I Don't Play Hockey
The ad doesn't spell it out explicitly, per se, but the game is actually about emergency dental surgery. Brett Hull, D.D.S. is a master in the field, and he wants to show you a few pointers on the trade (note the novocaine reference in the fine print). But he has a dark secret that you must discover over the course of your adventure: It turns out that the mad doctor gets his patients through rigged hockey games in which extremely pale Polish mobsters are dressed up as inconspicuous hockey players and paid to knock out your teeth.
Ok, you got me; I made most of that up. But I didn't make up the part about the Accolade-sponsored hockey player thugs that come to your house and knock out your teeth (while killing you) if you play this game. Apparently it's a great game, though -- you might just want to risk it. At the bottom, the ad proudly proclaims, "Any more realistic and you wouldn't want to play it." Presumably because, if it were any more realistic, you'd actually be playing hockey and there'd be no point. So right there, in ink, is concrete proof that the pinnacle of digital hockey simulation was achieved in 1995 with the game Brett Hull Hockey 95. Ever since, hockey game publishers have been working towards their inevitable extinction.
Push Your Friend Over The Edge (Really)
So far we've seen that most video game companies don't pussyfoot around when it comes to murder; they just want to come out and kill you directly. But STD (the inventor of sexually transmitted diseases) and InterAct take a more subtle approach -- they want you to do the dirty deed yourself. Using the innocent-looking "Handy Boy" device shown in the lower right portion of the ad, they slowly and continuously brainwash you over a period of three to four weeks. You don't think anything is wrong at first and keep playing Tetris until 4 AM every morning. But one day, an arbitrary InterAct employee nonchalantly flips a tiny black switch in their corporate headquarters. You black out, and the next thing you know you're at a dangerous construction site pushing your best friend to his death in a wheelbarrow like a murderous zombie. Meanwhile, your other friend, who is not yet done with his murder training, just starts freestylin' off to the side -- rapping about your nasty grandma and how he rode the bus that day -- somehow adding a stomach-twisting Reservoir Dogs-style senselessness to the brutal-yet-carefree peer-on-peer violence.
I'm not sure how many of these Rube Goldberg murders InterAct pulled off, but in a twisted way I have to admire the sadistic ingenuity of their plan. Why they would advertise it and ruin the complex scheme, I don't know. Somehow, evil geniuses cannot resist bragging about the brilliance of their work, and as we well know, it always brings their downfall in the end.
...Except in the U.S., of course, when that end meets teenagers, who, (apparently) according to thorough focus group studies in the mid-1990s, thought life-threatening game companies were cool. It seems they were just giving gamers exactly what they wanted all along.
[RedWolf is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Vintage Computing and Gaming, a regularly updated "blogazine" that covers collecting, playing, and hacking vintage computing and gaming devices. He has been collecting vintage computers and game systems for over 13 years. Check out the new VC&G Forum!]
Categories: Column: Game Ads A-Go-Go