Video game adverts, you used to be cool 
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Darryn Bonthuys
January 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm

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If there’s one thing that the video game industry used to have, it’s a sales department with a pair of brass balls the size of a pair of Hummer cars. Back in the day before the Internet took over, they needed to sell you games and do so with the boldest lies possible. And that’s how you ended up with full page adverts from when print was still relative, like these examples.

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Here’s a 1990 advert for Crystalis, which I never played due to the fact that I was quite possibly not yet alive at the time. As far as I can tell, it’s a game about fighting the ultimate hairy one-eyed monster while a gigantic toddler re-enacts scenes from Attack on Titan. This is what the game actually looks like:

That looks like Link mixed his washing with red clothing by accident. But you can bet that advertising like that helped sell the game. And that’s what good advertising does. It lies to you about just how marvellous something is going to be, in order to shift those numbers. The clued-up gamer is going to do research before-hand, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t admire the skill and effort that goes into making one of these pages.

Look at Witchaven here, a game from 1995.

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Look at how freakin’ badass that night looks perched on top of a column of skulls. That’s the kind of image that deserves a heavy metal music video. These days though, when you need to show off the hero of your game, you get the generic combination of recycled imagery to create this instead:

Call of Duty

Hell, we can’t even get a decent teaser advert these days either. Like Battlefield 3, which released this piece back in the day and tried to play it cool:

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Which when compared to these pieces from Final Fantasy 7 or Mortal Kombat II, just doesn’t compare. People hate having to play a guessing game, but making a bold piece like this that hinted towards something epic being on the horizon, while also proudly showing off which game it was going to be, was endearing.

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I miss the crazy, experimental ideas that were thrown into adverts.

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But I’ll admit that there was a ton of sexism in them as well.

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I miss the playful jests of certain adverts, when gamers could still take a joke before the politically correct crowd bitched and moaned those ads into extinction.

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But most of all, I just miss the sheer imaginative artistry of these ads.

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I know I’m not the only person complaining. Hell, the older guard of the advertising world has been complaining about how clients who need quick results has resulted in a brain drain of sorts where creativity is discouraged in order to get something out by the next day.

There’s no love anymore for these products. It’s all too consumable, and then thrown away. And that makes me sad. Maybe one day we’ll rediscover how one good and creative piece of advertising can help sell a game. But it won’t be anytime soon.

Because he's the writer that Lazygamer deserves, but not the one it actually needs right now.So we'll hunt him. Because he can't take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a loud-mouthed journalist, a watchful procrastinator. A dork knight.

  • Hammersteyn

    I remember seeing the add for MK2 the first time and they were right. Nothing could prepare me for it. Before the internet we only had magazines to fuel our imagination. I would show classmates screenshots from MK1 and would try to describe the game to them best I could. Those were the days.

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      And what a game it was.

      • Hammersteyn

        Kintaro was intimidating as all hell the first time I saw someone fighting him in the arcades. I couldn’t imagine that it was possible to beat him.

        • Zubayr Bhyat

          He was quite a boss hey. Most of the bosses from MK games were quite awesome. Shao Khan was rather fearsome as well.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I actually had Witchaven. It was one of those old giant game boxes, the cover was badass.

  • Craig “Crios” Boonzaier
    • Hammersteyn

      Awesome. never saw this.

      • Kensei Seraph

        I’m pretty sure it was on the CD’s.

  • Dean

    I remember that old Sega Saturn ad. I was the one guy who saw the naked lady :P

  • Sageville

    Remember that first game you bought and the utter disappointment when the box-art looked nothing like the handful of pixels in-game. Nowadays we have a cadenza if an in-game screenshot came from a dev environment.

  • Gareth L (That Guy)

    MK2 is almost TWENTY years old!! :(

    • Lupus

      By that you mean is 20 years old :-). I still remember one of the guys at school trying to explain MK to me.

      • Gareth L (That Guy)

        MK1, yes. MK2 was released in 1994. ;)

        • Lupus

          Nope MK 2 was released in 1993, the first one was released in 1992 :-( scary stuff how fast time flies.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_Kombat_II

          The home versions were around 1994

          • Gareth L (That Guy)

            Ah, I was basing it on the Megadrive releases. Thanks for that. :)

          • Lupus

            NP :-)

  • Devourer of Small Bunnies

    Knight* ;)

  • Devourer of Small Bunnies

    Is that Daikatana I see there. T’was a sad day for gaming indeed

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      well it as a good thing because John Romero’s arrogance got the better of him then.

      • Devourer of Small Bunnies

        And in doing so pissed off almost every gamer on the planet. Smooth. lol

  • Admiral Chief in Vegas

    DUUUUUUUUUUUKE!!!

  • Lardus-Resident Perve

    *Quickly opens all the “sexism” images*

  • Pingback: Video game adverts, you used to be cool – Lazygamer | New Games Now

  • RinceThis2014

    Craystalis was such an epic game! OMG! I want to play it again!!!!

  • Macethy

    My major issue is that the advertising world seems to think that a teaser or viral video are cool and that everyone wants to see them, while in actual face they don’t! Just got back to making proper commercials and advertisements, there was nothing wrong with those!

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