As adults, we have a low tolerance for TV commercials. That's why we watch Netflix. That's why we get the ad-free Hulu plan. It's how YouTube can extort people into paying over $10 a month to take the commercials out of your videos. But, there is such a thing as a good commercial. When were kids, those commercials were often for video games. Some of those commercials were good. Some were hilariously bad. And a few of those video game commercials stood out above the rest.
For this week's Shack Chat, the Shacknews staff is going to reflect on our best video game commercials and TV ad campaigns of all-time feature from earlier in the week. We've read it and we've weighed in with our pick for our personal favorite video game commercial ever.
Segata Sanshiro wasn't anybody's selection, but we're going to throw him down below anyway, out of fear that he will reach through our monitors and kick our butts.
Anyway, here are our picks.
Question: What's your favorite video game commercial?
Super Mario Sunshine - Ozzie Mejia, Senior TV Watcher
My choice is a weird one, because it's not a particularly good commercial and it's also for a game that I never actually played at the time.
In college, I stepped away from video games to focus on my studies. But, whenever I'd watch TV, I'd see this commercial with the Mario mascot, the singing kids, and this earworm of a jingle. As I'd walk to my classes, my brain would be singing "Clean is neater than dirty, and dirty's neater than clean!" Never mind that those aren't the lyrics, that's what I heard in my mind.
I didn't actually play Sunshine until last year's Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection came out and... it's a very unique kind of Mario game. Kinda like how this is a unique kind of Mario commercial.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies - Donovan Erskine, Contributing Editor
Long gone are the days where you had no idea a game even existed until you saw a commercial for it on TV. I remember eating my lunch one day when I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies on TV. I had never heard of Dragon Quest, but that trailer had me absolutely captivated.
The grand orchestral theme evoked a sense of adventure, and I thought the characters and art style looked extremely cool. There’s not a single second of gameplay in the trailer, but it perfectly captures everything that DQ9 is. Watching it as a little kid, I knew I had to have it, and it went on to be one of my favorite games ever.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2's Millionaire Trailer - Chris Jarrard, Has better opinions than fellow staffers
This was an easy selection for me. Arrange a collection of clips from the campaign and multiplayer sections of DICE's Bad Company 2, then mix it with one of my favorite songs. This is the formula for successfully building hype. It didn’t hurt that the game itself was a masterpiece of multiplayer action. On the flip side, you could pair this song to a clip of dogs being euthanized and I’d probably still be tapping my foot...
Halo 3 Believe campaign - Sam Chandler, Finished the fight
Halo will always be a special franchise for me. My love for it began with Combat Evolved and it continues as I eagerly await Halo Infinite (which will be great). While I loved every single bit of media to do with Halo 2 (I love bees!), Halo 3’s Believe mocumentary-style ad campaign hit different. This thing made fans feel things they hadn’t felt before. It painted the world of Halo not as this epic sci-fi story, but as this real event that took place and affected real people’s lives. Plus, the fact it all happened after John-117’s death made it all the more sombre. Sign me up for more of this type of marketing.
Battlefield 4 - Bill Lavoy, Co-EIC
Damn. This one won’t be overly popular but I played so much Battlefield 3 with my friends that seeing this commercial for Battlefield 4 blew my mind. It was probably the most hype I have ever felt for an upcoming game. Even watching it now brings me back and gives me goosebumps. It even has me excited for the next Battlefield game. Let's go!
Legend of Zelda Japanese dance video - TJ Denzer, deru deru, news no densetsu
There is so much about the Japanese Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past dance video commercial that keeps it in my mind all the time. First up, it's catchy as all heck (try not muttering "deru deru" at least once throughout your day after listening to this). Second, the synchronized dancing is just fresh and snappy, even if Lizalfos and Gibdosa re dancing with Link and his uncle for some reason. Zelda also sounds like she’s voiced by a male doing a bad impression of a female and I don’t know why. They serve up that sweet Zelda theme breakdown and show off a cool-as-heck giant Ganon puppet right after though, so it's all good.
This commercial was weird, quirky, fun, catchy, snappy, and fresh. It’s like an instant brainworm that just stays with you after you’ve watched it and it's easily what I think of first when I think of memorable video game commercials.
Pokemon - Steve Tyminski, Catch 'em all!
One of my favorite video game television commercials was one of the first Pokémon ads I saw. My friend got me started on Pokémon with the trading card game but it was also two ads that got me interested. There was an ad in magazines with the "gotta catch 'em all!" tagline under a bug net and several Pokémon. There was also the commercial with the bus driver picking up Pokémon and then stopping the bus in a junkyard and crushing the bus in a trash compactor, thus trapping the Pokémon in the Game Boy. Video game TV ads used to be weird like this and it would be nice to see ads go back to things like this.
Super Smash Bros. for N64 - Bryan Lefler is happy together with friends
This spot was already featured in our excellent "The best video game commercials and TV ad campaigns of all time" article but it was my suggestion to begin with so I’m sticking with it. When I first saw this ad I was still a freshman in high school and hadn’t settled in with the punk and ska scene yet. Being someone that played a ton of video games wasn’t exactly cool, and at that point, Unreal Tournament and Ocarina of Time were consuming every spare minute of my free time.
This commercial not only showcased a game that seemed so different from any fighting game previously, it also looked instantly engaging and fun. This was one of the first times I can remember seeing something that I had no idea I wanted so badly until it was shown to me. I had to wait a little while until I could get my own copy of the game. Once I did, it quickly became the first and last thing my friends and I would play during multiplayer sessions and was usually the only game we played. The Smash Bros. franchise is now home to the best selling fighting game of all time with Ultimate, but the original game still perfectly captures the essence and magic of the party-game brawler.
Those are our picks for our favorite video game commercials. Do you have a favorite video game commercial from back in the day? Or even from today? There are still some good TV commercials out there today, so you never know. Join the conversation and share with the rest of the class in the comments.