Friday, August 10, 2012

21 Terrific Gaming Commercials

Are you ready for a nostalgic trip through gaming commercials from yesteryear to now? That is precisely what I have in store for you with this list of 21 (odd number notwithstanding). These televisions ads come from Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and third-parties across decades of games and countless generations. Whether they're funny, artistic, send a message, or are just plain cool, these 21 ads are some of my personal favorites. Will your favorites be listed? If not, realize that this won't be the only article regarding great gaming ads.

Note: These commercials are all from the States. Feel free to share commercials from outside the U.S. 

Note 2: To save everyone from lots of loading, the actual videos are linked to as opposed to embedded on this site. Click the name of the ad to get to the video. I apologize ahead of time for YouTube comment sections.

Nintendo Wii "Wii Would Like to Play" Campaign


The console that shook the gaming world and changed it forever, the Wii received an outstanding blitzkrieg of television ads. This is actually a compilation of such ads to introduce America to the Wii. The ads portray two Japanese gentlemen riding across the country in a smart car, greeting unaware folks at their doorsteps, and with Wii remote in hand, bowing and stating the clever line, "Wii would like to play." Showing the fun and simplicity of motion controls in a masterful way, these Wii ads helped shape the success of the platform. And then the rest of the gaming world would follow, even a once reluctant Sony and Microsoft. We will see if Nintendo can convey the inherent fun and uniqueness of the Wii U in such a similar fashion.

"Michael" - PS3 Long Live Play Campaign


This commercial could be perceived as a prelude to Sony's Smash Bros-inspired game, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It features a cast of both first and third-party characters that have appeared in numerous PlayStation 3 titles. We have Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Kratos from God of War, Cole from inFamous, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, and soldiers from Call of Duty, to name several. It is a tribute to the gamers who made the PlayStation name such as success. To Michael! 

Halo 3 (360) Believe TV Spot


While this commercial gets points off for not including any gameplay, I will give it a pass since that would detract from the artistic nature of this ad. It shows stationary and incredibly articulate figurines put in battle against one another. Added are special effects like blur and explosions. It is of stark contrast to the gentle theme of Frederick Chopin's Prelude 15 (Raindrop). Juxtaposition, if you'd rather call it that. The scenes certainly showcase the epic struggle between the humans and the Covenant forces. At the end, we see Master Chief held up by his neck, defeated... or is he? A grenade in his hand lights up, and his head turns up, looking at the viewer. Believe.

Metroid Prime (GCN)


Now this commercial is just incredible. It masterfully blends live action with the gameplay from one of the greatest games from last generation, Metroid Prime. It shows Samus Aran, clad in her Power Suit, exploring a desolate industrial zone. She moves through the facility, enters her Morph Ball, and blasts the hostile lifeforms which take up residence inside this dark and deserted area. The narration with lines like "The cold silence of space only punctuates the feeling of death that emanates from this virtually lifeless planet" as well as "And [evil] must be destroyed -- decimated -- exterminated... But first... it must be found." Combined with the sensational special effects and imagery, this is one of the coolest commercials Nintendo has ever put out. And it should be when it gets a Hollywood director to help produce it.

Gears of War (360) - Mad World TV Spot


This artful ad shows a lone solitary Marcus Fenix in the fight for his life. Like the Halo 3 Believe TV spot, this Gears of War one juxtaposes the action and seeming futility of Fenix fighting on with the song Mad World by Michael Andrews on piano and Gary Jules providing vocals playing in the background. The ad concludes with Marcus entering a dark building which he thinks provides shelter, only to be greeted with a colossal beast. Nothing left to do but fight on, pelt the Locust monster with bullets.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Pair of Ads


I don't know why the uploader of this video felt the urge to show him screwing around on the Nintendo Channel menu, but the first of the two ads for New Super Mario Bros. Wii actually begins at 0:23. The nostalgia immediately comes pouring in as we here the classic 8-bit Super Mario Bros. theme, alongside shots of the real world mixed with Mario elements like beanstalks and flagpoles. We see several groups of four players across varying ages having fun with the game (and the multiplayer is very fun -- the best of this generation locally, to be honest) while Bob-ombs, Cheep Cheeps, Mushrooms, coins, and other Mario-themed creatures and objects linger around them. Here we go indeed!

"Cubs Win" MLB 2012 The Show (PS3, PSV)


Finally, after a century of failures, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series! Tears are shed, prayers have been answered, a celebration erupts in the Windy City. Skyscraper windows light up with festive messages, citizens cheer, cry, and embrace one another, and the Cubbies storm the field in one giant blob of white uniforms. But it isn't reality. The real reality is that it was a PlayStation 3 owner winning the World Series with the Cubs in MLB 2012 The Show, the best baseball simulator yet. The tears from the player are, in fact, real. The point of the ad is that the game feels like the real thing, so real emotions (manly tears, I'm sure) were conveyed. It really is a tremendous ad. Then again, a video game championship doesn't go in the MLB record books, give you a parade and trophy, and break your 100+ year curse.

Perfect Dark (N64)


Perfect Dark is without a doubt my favorite first-person shooter of all time. It wasn't perfect like the name suggests as the framerate was low in high octane situations. However, the XBLA remake fixed this, making it tops in the genre for me. The objective-based missions a la GoldenEye will always be my preferred means to play. Plus the combat simulator was full of awesome options. So many, your head would spin. The commercial shows a live action Joanna Dark's morning routine. It's all common stuff: shower, an energizing drink, lipstick, getting pretty, getting dressed, selecting what gun you are going to wear to work -- it's all common like I said. As the commercial states quite clearly, the only person man enough to tackle the DataDyne corporation's nefarious scheme is a woman.

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)


Like Halo 3's ad, this Final Fantasy VII TV spot does not show any gameplay either, but at least we have some in-game cutscenes to marvel at. While it doesn't really do anything spectacular or even original, the sight of seeing the first Final Fantasy in full 3D was astonishing at the time. Sure, the graphics of the game outside of FMVs look rather prehistoric now, even headache-inducing (personal experience), but it was still a well put together commercial. The line "you can always push the reset button" is one that has stood with me for a long time. It's just one I hear or read somewhere and I immediately think "Final Fantasy VII."

Kingdom Hearts (PS2)


You'll never know who you'll run into next. That was certainly the mantra of the Kingdom Hearts series. I had to choose between this and Kingdom Hearts II's ad, but I felt this one captured the spirit of what the series was originally intended to be without -- y'know, before one of the most awful and convoluted stories in gaming history came to exist. It was indeed simple and clean for the most part. Sora, Donald, and Goofy went from Disney world helping the denizens out, defeating the Heartless horde, and saving the day. The commercial shows a full cavalcade of Disney all-stars from numerous films. It is a wet dream for any fan of Disney or, to a lesser extent, Final Fantasy.

Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)


The Kevin Butler ad campaign may have overstayed its welcome or have made some to believe the character was the arrogance of Sony personified in marketing form, but I just enjoyed them for the most part. Anything was better that that creepy PS3 baby or Marcus. 500 cars? No. How about 1,000? No realistic damage? Nah, you better put that in. Gran Turismo 5 may have failed to live up to the unrealistic expectations fans had (but it was later patched to be a sensational racing simulator), but this commercial certainly did not fail to entertain. Even the disclaimer while Butler tears out of the parking lot, "Mr. Butler is a professional driver on a closed course" leaves me in stitches.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, XBX)


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a full, living, breathing world to explore. Three cities based on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas separated by miles of country and desert, multiple vehicles to utilize including sports cars, tanks, jet fighters, and speedboats, great mission variety, and an engaging story all added up to my favorite open world sandbox experience ever. The ad beautifully displays all of this frenetic fun with Guns 'n Roses' Welcome to the Jungle accompanying the action. It is a well-edited commercial that even when my attention was elsewhere during commercial breaks, it immediately turned to this TV spot as soon as it started playing on the air.

Crash Bandicoot (PS1)


Oh, man. Could you stand it if a commercial like this aired on TV in today's gaming climate where console zealots and trolls are at the highest level of obnoxiousness yet? It would be disastrous. I'm not the type of person who grabs a bowl of popcorn to watch fanboys and trolls make asses of themselves on message boards, so I wouldn't be sitting back and watching that happen. There's far better things to watch like all seven seasons of The Golden Girls, the first 100 or so episodes of Family Guy (when it was routinely funny to me), and the great out-of-retirement cop show New Tricks. Nonetheless, I am getting off point. It was hilarious seeing a man in a Crash Bandicoot costume with a bullhorn blaring insults to Nintendo's supposed headquarters. It's sort of funny knowing how things actually turned out. How's that non-future in gaming going, Crash?

Super Mario Bros. 1-3 (NES)


Nintendo fans sometimes get called a cult due to some of their ilk becoming overly defensive whenever Nintendo has bad news or gets the slightest bit criticized (there's even evidence of that on this very site if you look hard enough). Whether or not some of them have a persecution complex as well is another argument that can be made. Regardless, this very old commercial for the NES trilogy of Super Mario Bros. games shows multiple groups chanting "Mario" in a cult-like fashion as they wear different colored clothing; some in red, some in blue, some in white, and some in black. The camera pans out into a view from space showing that the massive group of young'ins look like Mario's head from that distance. Very clever.

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (GBA)


What do Japanese schoolchildren have in common with an American audience? Why, everyone loves Mario, of course! And if you don't, you obviously have a problem. (Kidding, obviously). The commercial has school letting out, and the schoolchildren rushing, jumping, providing aerial acrobatics akin to what is seen in Mario games, racing across subways, and heading some place all in one smattering of kids. Their destination? A store that has just release Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, a wonderful remake of the Super Mario Bros. 3 classic. (Well, technically it's a port of the Super Mario All-Stars version of SMB3 with added content in the form of e-Reader cards.) This ad was part of Nintendo's intriguing "Who are you" campaign during its GameCube/Game Boy Advance days.

Paper Mario (N64)


One of the funniest commercials to me on this list of 21 is Paper Mario's US ad. It is just so delightfully charming. After receiving a letter from the seemingly perpetually kidnapped Princess Peach, a cutout of Mario throws down his fishing rod, dives into the lake, and begins swimming on his journey to save his lovely lady. He jumps off a cliff, crosses the stormy countryside, and crashes through a plated glass window to save the princess from an untimely death, the dreaded paper shredder. Such a remarkably clever commercial. It really is amazing.

Super Smash Bros. (N64)


Something truly has gone wrong in the happy-go-lucky world of Nintendo, but it is oh-so right at the same time. The game that made immensely popular the party fighter genre, Super Smash Bros. was a hit from the mind of Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai. Two sequels later and the series is primed for a fourth installment across two platforms: the Wii U and 3DS. The Turtles' Happy Together plays as people in Mario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and Pikachu costumes beat the crap out of each other. Good music, good entertainment, good commercial. And quite memorable, too!

Banjo-Tooie (N64)


No, no, no. What is wrong with that skydiving instructor? The guy in the Banjo costume obviously doesn't need a parachute, he has Kazooie in his backpack to soften his fall. But wait-- Kazooie's AWOL? Uh-oh. The commercial's premise shows how Banjo and Kazooie are no longer inseparable. They can split up and handle tasks on their own when the necessity presents itself. A wonderfully executed idea making for a wonderfully executed commercial.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)


Willst thou soar... Or willst thou suck?  Well, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time certainly did not suck, nor did its epic commercial. Showcasing multiple action-packed instances of gameplay, story elements, and other notes of interest, this ad cemented my desire to get the game and increased my already feverish anticipation of Ocarina of Time. And even with this impossible to satisfy hype I had for the game, Ocarina of Time still managed to outperform my expectations. Just astonishing, and it is still such an outstanding game. Speaking of outstanding, how about a look at this glorious European ad for Ocarina of Time 3D featuring Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda? Why, oh why didn't this ad come out in North America?

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)


"In the land of Hyrule, there echoes a legend." And so this enchanting commercial begins. Mixed with a live action Zelda telling the tale of Link with some captivating gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, this ad is whimsical. When it was originally shown, the cel-shaded art style was lambasted by fans. Then, like so many times with Nintendo, critics actually played the game and developed a fondness for the very thing they derided so vocally. It seems history will continue to repeat itself forever.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)


Swords and shields fall to the ground from the heavens above. They might look cool and stylish, but they can certainly take your head off if you aren't careful. I mean, surveying the damage from the commercial alone and you can see cars destroyed, lunch dates ruined, and those in apartments who I really hope have some kind of insurance policy. Say what you will about the quality of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword or how the series has lost its way, but my review backs up why I love the game and why it was SPC's Game of the Year 2011.

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Did you enjoy this look at 21 gaming commercials that I admire? If I left out one of your favorites, let it be known that I plan on doing an additional list of other favorite commercials of mine. Can't have part two be full of second-tier favorites! I gotta have some stellar and unforgettable ones! And if you aren't in the States, what commercials in your country or even outside your country do you adore?

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