vcg_logo_gsw.jpg['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 vintage game magazine collection.]

Welcome back to the sophomore edition of "Game Ads A-Go-Go." This week we'll be looking at ads for strange video game peripherals and accesories, and I'll be telling you nearly nothing about them of technical or factual value, but instead will ramble on about how strange and poorly conceived they are. If you're just here to leech the ad scans (now watermark free, by the way), you might want to get it over with now and save yourself from my attempts at humor. Otherwise, on with the show!

Is That a Handy Gear in Your Pocket?

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From the foremost expert on STDs comes the Handy Gear, the all-encompassing Game Gear prophylactic of the future. Why Limit Yourself? With the Handy Gear safely encasing your unit, you can freely play casual games with total strangers, tossing aside all worries about possible (cartridge) insertion problems or undesirable fluids (such as water, Coke) getting all over your Game Gear and possibly jeopardizing your ability to play games again in the future.

Why, the Handy Gear is even shock-resistant, so you can now throw your Game Gear firmly against the wall any time you want -- with no ill effects to the unit.


Now You Can Play One Game at a Time!

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One of the supposedly funniest ways to generate snarky comments on something is by taking the material you're satirizing literally. For example, here we have a man with six Sega Genesis-shaped cartridges impaled into his vertically extended cranium. You would be correct in thinking that this would be a painful experience for any man -- even one with an abnormally large forehead. And as we can see, this man is no exception to the laws of pain, considering the severely aggravated expression on his face.

As we dig further into the imagery, we have to take a less literal approach to our interpretation to have fun with the ad. The cartridges in the man's head are not games...as we know them, anyway. They are labeled with various retail store chain names. What sort of commercial deviousness are these stores up to? Are they reprogramming his mind to say "BUY BUY BUY," turning him into the ultimate mega-consumer zombie? And which chain of the ones listed gets control of the man at any given time? Perhaps the man's brain is available on a rotating, bi-weekly basis, with all members of the Commercial Retail Syndicate (CRS) getting their fair chance to influence the man's purchasing habits. And as an extension of this hypothesis, I would surmise that the LEDs in his forehead, when lit, indicate which company has control of the man at the moment (when this picture was taken, Best Buy had the helm). The companies have also messed with his eyes, somehow modifying them to emit a piercing red glow.

I have the feeling that ASG (or should I call you...CRS!?) didn't sell too many of these poorly-designed brain installations.

Edwin Sedgefield's Use of Barcodes as a Metaphor for Social Transcendence in The Clocker Tippets

UPC barcodes, as we all know, are an ingenious method of keeping tabs on the movement of humans (and will be tattooed on your neck at the time of the Apocalypse) developed by Satan/the Government/the U.S. grocery industry in the 1970s. It took a staggering 20+ years for this evil technology to be adapted to keeping track of video game playing habits as well, and you can see the results of this development before you now.

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But I digress. The origin of this device probably actually went something like this:

Marketing Executive #1: How can we convince people to buy more products? People are just not buying enough products. We need more sales!

Marketing Executive #2: I don't know...I think.. Wait! I've got it! We could take a piece of otherwise worthless-to-the-consumer printing that is located on every product label, and turn it into something of value that people actually want to buy -- just because it's there! And moreover, we will also make them buy the device that gives this piece of printing its value! No longer will people buy products for their material content or inherent utility -- they will buy them because we printed a couple parallel lines on the label!

Marketing Executive #3: I can't possibly think of a way that this could not succeed.

And so the Barcode Battler was born, the fruit of industry collusion. Back in the day when this device was still only available in Japan, there was a story floating around about a particular can of soup always being sold out because its barcode gave your in-game character really awesome powers. It makes me wonder if Campbell's Soup execs ever said, "Well, Chunky Bergola Soup sales are slumping this month. Better call the Barcode Battler people...again."

[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 12 years.]