Attack of the SNES Commercials!

Author: Mongunzoo

You can tell a lot about an era by its advertising. In the 90’s EVERYONE in marketing rode the RAD train. As often as we have nostalgic dreams about games of the past, it’s not often you hear about the game commercials. What a shame, because as fun as the games can be, a good commercial is eternal in and of itself. So without further ado, let us take a look at some of the SNES’s most memorable TV advertising. Travel with me to a time and place different than our own. To a time when game commercials were fun instead of being pretentious movie trailer ripoffs. To the era of RAD

This is a Super Nintendo ad from 1991. I love the hyperbole in this commercial. It’s showing off the new tricks the system can pull off. Nintendo was also much more civil in its ad campaign unlike their main rival SEGA, choosing to highlight its strengths rather than mock its opponent’s weaknesses. A lot of the Genesis commercials had a mudslinging tone that I never cared for, but as this ad showed, Super Nintendo is what Genesisnt! I also think that this ad showed off what the strength of a good video game is, taking the player to a whole new world where their choices have an impact.  Not to mention that the final transformation into a game-playing android is just a cool concept that only could have come out of the nineties.


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Unlike the first ad, I remember this one personally. Does anyone else remember going to SEARS for their games? Does anyone else remember how you could play the games there to see which ones you liked? They even had a Street fighter 2 tournament at my local one.  I did pretty good, but still only managed to get seventh, far short of the first place needed to score a free copy of the game! Man, those were the days…


Here is yet another commercial that gets creative with its advertising. I like how it focuses on just how important video games were to 90′s youth. Notice a trend of how it was not just Nintendo or Capcom putting out commercials targeting specific games and systems? In the 90′s, department stores were also heavily into advancing gaming. Although Toys R Us was not as big a part of my childhood as SEARS, I still remember picking out that little paper slip to take up front to get my game. Takes you back, huh?


When I think of SNES commercials, this is the one I think of most.  It’s a bit effective! I do not think that there is a better way to sum this game up. Except that part about it being ‘A bit more realistic’. REALLY!? There is something I do want you all to notice. They are showing you actual gameplay! Not too often we see that anymore, huh?


This is a good commercial for Super Metroid. It shows off the gameplay, let’s you know about the bigger cartridge size, and even wards off beginning gamers by showing how difficult the game is.  Although the game was not as hard as the first or second, Metroid has always been Nintendo’s franchise for the hardcore. I think that this ad made sure the game went to the right audience. And poor Killer…


This one was kinda weird. I suppose they thought that The Legend of Zelda name itself was enough to sell the game. I still enjoy this hobbit with a mullet’s epic climb up the mountain for the Master Sword though. This is another thing that I miss from this time period. I know it sucks to hire actors, but they do add some personality that this CG crap just cannot replicate. If you are not going to show any gameplay, at least have some fun with the commercial.


With this commercial, you could tell just how crucial Donkey Kong Country was to Nintendo. It was their ace in the hole during the console war with SEGA. The original version of this ad was a minute long in a time when most were a half minute. It is also the ONLY time in my memory that Nintendo called out SEGA. The footage and imagery was perfect, and I remember having my mind blown when this ad hit.  This game was the definition of Play It Loud!


This ad really takes me back, with the kid suffering from TMK. I like how many of the the commercials of this era didn’t take themselves too seriously. They were not trying to be art, or movies. They just wanted to portray how zany and fun the game was.  We need more of that because at the end of the day one of gaming’s greatest strengths is that it ISN’T so serious. It is about having fun.


I hope that this was a fun trip down memory lane. Sometimes the best thing about these older systems is that through them, you can grab a piece of your childhood. You can go back to a time where games were supposed to be fun and not a second job. Keep in mind that these commercials were a product of one of the most competitive eras of gaming, and that shows with their creativity, humor, and even a few jabs at the competition. With that, I hope you enjoyed this link to the past (Pun intended). And a huge shout out to the folks who took the time to post these gems on Youtube. I hope that this post gets your videos countless views. Thanks for preserving this part of gaming history.

PLAY IT LOUD GUYS!

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Mongunzoo

Mongunzoo

I am an avid fan of the SNES who never really left. When others were upgrading to the 64 and enjoying Star-Collector Mario, I was Perusing Japanese auction sites for hidden gems on the other side of the ocean! I now have a collection spanning over 200 SNES games and accessories. When not playing on SNES and writing for this website, I enjoy traveling, good food, drink, and company, and deep discussions with Grimm.

6 Comments:

  1. a lot of these are so hilariously bad that they are actually entertaining. The 90s was so tacky! =)

  2. I miss commercials like these. They were having lots of fun. I hardly see game commercials now, except for screenshots of gameplay with quotes of positive reviews. Those are even rare to see.

  3. Also, you should see the Japanese commercials of this era. A Link to the Past had a Thriller-esque commercial.

  4. Every time I see an advert now it’s for one of those modern/space/zombie shooter’s that seem to have taken over the world. If that wern’t bad enough they all look like some CGI movie and there’s always some small print at the bottom of the advert stating “Not actual game footage”. Booooring. These were much more original if not polished at least.

  5. @ kanto. I know, right?

    If you REALLY want to know how much gaming has shrunk, look at the national advertising (or lack thereof)

  6. The commercial I remember the most was the Mario All Stars pack-in commercial, that had a bunch of models dressed as Mario.

    SEGA had the better advertising for much of the 16-bit era, though Nintendo caught up in the end (look at the DKC ad).

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