vcg_logo_gsw.jpg['Game Ads A-Go-Go' is a bi-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.]

Welcome back to another extremely whimsically over-analytical edition of Game Ads A-Go-Go! I'm actually finally almost done moving, so I have more time this week to write total pap. In this episode, we'll be focusing on what I like to call "visual hyperbole." Hyperbole (pronounced hi-per-bo-lee), for those who don't know, essentially means "extreme exaggeration." There are many examples of visual hyperbole in video game ads of yore since the advertisers typically want to get their point across in the most dramatic way possible. Let's take a look at a few.

All Hail The Great Shodown


Somewhere in the South Pacific there lives a race of tiny people in baseball caps that worships a god known as Shodown. The mighty Shodown, in an impressive display for his peoples, regularly manifests himself as a colorful upright wooden cabinet in a local cave. Every week the people of the village gather around Shodown to beg for mercy and forgiveness:

"Oh Great Shodown, we have worshiped you plenty. We have given you trinkets of rock and bone. Why, oh why have you not watered our crops this season?"

Normally, Shodown only responds to their pleas with swirling lights and sound. But one week, Shodown finally replied:

"Trinkets of rock and bone are not enough to satisfy the great Shodown. I require a much greater sacrifice: that of a large metal disc with a picture of a man's head impressed upon it!"

Puzzled by their god's request, the people went to their village's greatest minds: blacksmiths with years of experience in crafting odd metallic things. It took all of the village's blacksmiths working together for seven days and seven nights to craft the perfect metal disc for Shodown. Soon after, the people took the disc to Shodown and deposited it into a slot in the front of Shodown's cabinet. Another week passed, and the people returned, saying:

"Shodown, we have worshiped you plenty. We have given you the sacrifice you requested. Why, oh why have you not watered our crops this season?"

The great booming voice of Shodown replied:

"Last year, one disc was plentiful for Shodown. This year you must deposit four discs before I water your crops."


Folk tales aside, there is something else you should know about this ad. Look in the print at the bottom and you'll find this:


The Best Rack in Town


"Finally, there's a video pool game that actually 'feels' like real billiards."

I'm completely confused. First, this ad tells us to "chalk up" (Dude), then it tells us not to ("Do not try this at home" in the fine print), then they throw in a couple crude references to breasts, and then they finally reveal that all this hullabaloo is actually about a video pool game, and that we're not actually supposed to use our fingers as pool cues. Talk about mixed messages. Am I supposed to play with my fingers? Not play with my fingers? Chalk my fingers? Chalk the cartridge? Grope the billiard balls?

I think we're just better off skipping this game and playing a different one.

Be Careful What You Wish For


The other night I was in a similar situation as the young fellow pictured in this ad. I was sitting in my living room playing a crappy baseball game on my Intellivision, when I off-handedly remarked to my friend that someone should make a more realistic baseball game. Just then, a baseball hurled through my living room window, completely shattering the glass and hitting me in the head. My friend walked away with a few small glass shards in the arm, but I was knocked unconscious for a couple hours. When I awoke, a stunning revelation hit me: someone already has made a more realistic baseball game. It's called Baseball and people play it all the time. Then I jumped up, grabbed my shotgun, did a dramatic roll on the floor, popped up in front of the window and blasted the kid outside who threw the baseball at me.

Shortly afterward, in the police car, I realized that I had a problem with distinguishing video games from reality.

[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.]