The Evolution of Nintendo Commercials, Part 2

By Nick Breckon, Apr 08, 2008 11:10am PDT Nintendo's marketing strategy has seen dramatic changes since its North American invasion in the mid-1980s. From cutesy cartoons, to cliched nerds in glasses, to Wii-waggling models in tight jeans, nowhere are these paradigm shifts more evident than in the company's television commercials.

Now we conclude our look back at Nintendo's past TV spots, which began with The Evolution of Nintendo Commercials, Part 1.

1994, Play It Loud
We pick up where we left off, with another fine example of Nintendo's attempt at Generation X, MTV-style marketing. Old people are lame, and you can show them why by playing Nintendo games.

Of course, Nintendo will be singing a different tune by the end of this article. But in the mean time, fight the power via rampant commercialism.

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1995, Virtual Boy Wario Land
The Virtual Boy certainly didn't fail for want of advertising. Here is one example of its red-tinted clips, another commercial dominated by that lovable animated Wario.

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1996, Nintendo 64
"We will change the system."

Nintendo's first N64 ads were all about hyping the 3D revolution, long before the Revolution prototype itself ever made headlines.

I feel like I'm watching the final scene of a bad Matrix movie by the end of this particular rally.

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1997, Mario Kart 64
What do Mario Kart and scary carnival rides have in common?

Oh, I don't know, either. I'm just asking.

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1997, Star Fox 64
By popular demand, here is the Nintendo Power infomercial for Star Fox 64.

Featuring scenes of intense interrogation by two guys in a Sony and Sega shirt, this thing is a real gem. Oh, and don't bother trying: StarFox64.com still exists, but simply redirects to StarFox.com proper.

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1998, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The first instance of the epic Zelda theme since used in many a trailer, the Ocarina of Time commercial wins points for focusing totally on its fabulous gameplay.

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1998, Christmas Nintendo 64 Lineup
This one strikes me as a typical commercial of the N64 era. Decked out in Abercrombie, hair spiked to the ceiling, I really could relate to these kids. And who didn't want South Park 64?

By the way, when you ask yourself who in the world bought that game, it was me. Yes, I know.

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1999, Super Smash Bros.
If you had to single out one Nintendo advertisement from the late 90s, this would be the one.

From a pure marketing standpoint, this thing is genius. Guys in mascot suits really bring the Smash Bros. world to life, instantly informing me on what this strange new game is all about.

And seriously, look at that Donkey Kong. Look at him.

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2002, Mario Sunshine
We're skipping forward a bit into the Gamecube generation, but for good reason.

Continuing the happy-go-lucky mascot theme, this Sunshine spot manages to make even Mario seem creepy. I think it has something to do with his legs being too long.

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2002, Metroid Prime
The 60-second live-action Metroid Prime ad hit movie theaters across the country in 2002. Directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City), it was eventually brought up as a prime guideline for John Woo's once-rumored Metroid movie in 2004.

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2003, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Wind Waker sure holds up. Compare this to the live-action Zelda II trailer of the first installment, and you'll see the hard evidence of progress in Nintendo's marketing efforts.

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2004, Pikmin 2
Oompa Loompah-esque, this spot is sort of terrifyingly funny. Unfortunately, it doesn't really attempt to explain what Pikmin is to the general public. Maybe that's a lost cause, but I'm not sure crazed men yapping about hot dogs is doing much more for the franchise.

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2004, Nintendo DS
The Nintendo DS was kicked off with the "Touching is good" campaign. Yes, sexual innuendo in a Nintendo commercial. We've come a long way.

Comparing this to the first Game Boy ad, with its dancing man-suit robot, is illustrative to say the least.

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2005, Game Boy Micro
In a single year, we've moved way past innuendo.

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2006, Tetris DS
You can easily spot a 21st century commercial based on whether or not it has a lower-caps one-liner.

Got Tetris?

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2006, Nintendo Wii
Old people are no longer lame--they're potential targets. Games are no longer niche--they're played by hot girls. The system isn't a boxy toaster, but a sleek thing of beauty, delivered by friendly Japanese men who would rather play a game than take over your country's economy.

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2006, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
And now, after a half-dozen Zelda commercials, we come to the end. Each Wii commercial has been almost a 50/50 split between shots of people on couches and actual gameplay footage. Sure, they're harmless, but I have to say, I prefer a dancing robot over some kid in a hoodie waving a controller around in the dark.

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Miss the first half? Check out The Evolution of Nintendo Commercials, Part 1.

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