The art of advertising has been around for hundreds of years. If you want people to buy your product, or partake in your services, you need to find a way to get the word out on your product. Advertising has developed in leaps and bounds from the old days of trying to hawk wares on street corners, especially with the advent of television.
Game advertisements have also developed greatly from their formative years. Case in point the very poignant example of the original Legend of Zelda game for the NES circa 1986, featured after the break.
I think by today’s standards, we can all agree that that was absolutely awful. Nothing screams Zelda more than a guy with frizzy hair in a room, awkwardly saying enemies names in a completely odd voice. You can definitely tell that this commercial is from the 1980′s due to the style of the presentation.
The 80′s, as far as I can tell, were a period where everything was BIG. The country had recently recovered from the Vietnam War, and “grunge” culture was reaching its apex, graffiti was becoming a popular art form, and yes, video games were beginning to take their first fledgling steps into the future. But in order to take these steps, they had to throw off the mantle of their “father”, if you will, and try to change their image.
The Video Game Crash of 1983 occurred in the early part of the decade, and soured the popular opinion of American Consumers towards video games. Simply put, they stopped being profitable. Around this time, Nintendo had caught on in Japan in a big way with the Famicom, and the powers that be within the company wanted to market the system in the United States.
However, they faced a large number of road blocks along the way, including America’s increasing aversion to video games. So, in order to tap into the market, they had to completely reinvent their image. They refused to call the games they were producing, games. They changed the title of the Famicom to the Nintendo Entertainment System in an attempt to catch the attention of consumers. One of the biggest ideas they had at the time, was to include the Robotic Operating System (otherwise known as R.O.B.) and market the system as a toy, instead of a game.
So when it came to market their games, and their system, Nintendo obviously aimed at the younger set, who would be more likely to partake in their so called “toys”. They went for the popular style of the 80′s, which included being loud, and making everything BIG and over the top, hence the fuzzy-headed man shouting out names of enemies. The commercial does indeed have gameplay footage of the enemy that the man was referencing, further backing up his shouts with an image of the creatures.
They attempt to show through the actions of the man in question some of the moves that players are able to pull off in-game, and then back them up with the gameplay footage of the attack. It’s all very quaint, and whether it was successful as an advertisement is up to personal interpretation. However, at the time when the The Legend of Zelda was first coming out, prior to the advent of the internet, most gamers learned about games through word of mouth. So in a way, the games advertised themselves.
But on the plus side, at least we can look back on these old advertisements and smile (or cringe), and be reminded of a simpler time in the gaming world, and the world at large.