When it comes to games and advertising the results can be hit or miss. Getting the balance right can be a difficult feat to achieve. However, it is safe to say that advertising standards have increased over the years. When looking back I was shocked at some of the images and themes used in gaming adverts back in the '90s, the so-called golden age of gaming. These would definitely not fly in a now progressive and inclusive 2016.
It is easy to celebrate Nintendo's legacy of achievements like Metroid's 30th anniversary, the insane popularity (and recent decline) of Pokémon GO, the massive Pokémon Sun & Moon Alola region hype, and the upcoming 15th anniversary of the much-loved GameCube. But, we can't forget all the bizarre quirks that came along with the company.
Nintendo has been serial offender over the years for offensive, racist, misogynist, and just plain questionable video game commercials and below are some of the low-lights in Nintendo's advertising back-catalogue.
1. Gameboy "Dr Mario Commercial" (1991) - Racial Stereotypes
I don't even know where to begin. Who decided to put a guy in brown face, adorn him in over-the-top stereotypical costumes vaguely representing cultural dress and then use a pop song of nonsense words and pretend it's an ancient language? This wildly inappropriate commercial is Exhibit A of what not to do when when representing different cultures in the media.
2. Gameboy "More Fun Than A Ferret Down Your Trousers" (1994) - Bestiality/Weird Masturbation
This ad screams '90s. At first glance it looks innocent enough. Then, you have a look closer. What is at first a weird ad of a guy and his pet ferret, becomes much darker. Let's put two and two together - look where that ferrets head is, and examine the expression on that dudes face. Gross.
3. Gameboy "Donkey Kong 64 Print Ad" (1994) - Racial Stereotypes
This advertisement would definitely not go down well in 2016. It makes me wonder whose grand idea it was to take a man and turn him into a caricature of an ancient 'wild' culture, and give him a stereotypical name to boot. On top of it all, how does this actually relate to the game?
4. SNES Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island Commercial (1995) - Gross and Age Inappropriate
Now don't get me wrong, I love Monty Python's The Meaning of Life however, I am not sure the reference to it in this advertisement would have been fully understood by children. In fact, it seems like a very strange movie to use as inspiration for a "family friendly" game. On top of that, the commercial is gross as shit.
5. Gameboy Pocket "Serioulsy Distracting" (1997) - Promoting Violence against Women
Hey, you know what would be a great way to promote a video game console? Let's have a man tie up his spouse so he can play it! The fuck? Who OK'd this ad? Firstly, it's misogynist as hell - it implies that women are objects that can be controlled by men (hey I want to play games so I am going to tie you up so you can't stop me) and secondly it normalises rape and physical violence. Look at her face! Being tied up to a bed without consent should never be joked about.
Nintendo, however, put this all down to a misunderstanding:
When you look at [our] ad in the context of the environment it appeared in, it’s exactly in keeping with the editorial pages which, I would say, go further than we did. The nature of the complaints misinterpreted our intent — to show the woman as frustrated, not terrified.” - Crispin Reed, account director for Nintendo
6. Nintendo 64 Commercial (2000) - Blackmail, Cross-Dressing, and Trans-Shaming
Ah Nintendo. An advertisement about a console rated E for everyone - a family friendly console. Yet, this ad is anything but. Firstly, it encourages children to blackmail their parents to buy them things - great message. The more disturbing part, though, is that it makes a mockery out of the cross-dressing and trans communities. It turns a lifestyle choice into something shameful. Not cool Nintendo, and definitely not something that would fly these days.
7. Gameboy Micro "Animal Testing" (2005) - Just Plain Uncomfortable
While not inadvertently offensive, something about this commercial unsettles me. There's nothing like watching a mouse hump a console to put me off ever wanting to own one of those.
8. Kirby Canvas Curse Commercial" (2005) - Is That a Giant Penis Costume?!
Now I know that this commercial is technically is all above board. A giant finger and a giant Kirby explore the world together. It is sweet and innocent and gets the point across. Unless you have a filthy mind, or only get a quick glimpse. No matter how many times I watch this commercial, I chuckle away at what looks to me like giant cock roaming around the streets.
9. Nintendo DS: Jam Sessions "Instant Rockstar" (2007) - A Little Bit Of Incest
There are a whole series of these commercials developed in none other than my own home country: New Zealand. However this one is by far the most messed up. Come on guys. We Kiwis spend our lives having to deal with "sheep shagging" and "inbreed" jokes from our cousins abroad, and then you go and make this commercial! Unreal.
10. Mario Strikers "You're Gunna Need a Pair" (2005) - Banned Advertisement
I am going to finish with this amazing gem. This ballsy advertisement never made it to the public eye as the ad was rejected before it could be printed. Originally meant for print in 2005, this ad was rejected for not complying with Nintendo's family-friendly image. After this whole list, that's a bit strange compared to what did make the cut!
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