Super Mario All Stars VHS Promo Video – 1993

Imagine going to pick up your pre-order of Super Mario All Stars for the Super Nintendo in 1993 and receiving a bonus VHS containing twenty minutes of Mario celebration along with reviews of  other contemporary SNES games, all hosted by Lister from Red Dwarf.

Are you imagining it?

This video is simultaneously an awesome pack-in for a video game, a huge bonus value, and a cringeworthy commercial that tries so hard to be cool that it comes off as like when the chaperones try to dance with the students at the school dance.

Craig Charles hosts from a very Dwarf-esque control center, narrating a brief history of the Mario series before rolling through some talking points on the bigger SNES games of the time like A Link to the Past, Mario Kart, Starwing (Starfox here in the US) and Battletoads.

The video also oddly rates its own games? Why would you present the game that you’re trying to sell to kids as anything other than 100%?

Lister then “beams down” to meet the Nintendo hotline headquarters representatives. While it would have been easy to portray the hotline headquarters as a futuristically lit gaming lair featuring loads of slick actors paid to look like savvy gaming know-it-alls, Nintendo made the bold choice to portray the hotline headquarters as a futuristically lit gaming lair featuring the actual hotline representatives who aren’t necessarily camera friendly and have no formal on-camera training.

The video then doubles down on this strategy, giving the representatives the chance to review Aladdin, Mario Paint, and more, in obnoxiously over-effected segments.

An educating but disappointingly dry five minute segment on how a video game is made leads into a run of game cheats. This is arguably the only valuable part of the entire tape.

The valuable part lasts only so long until the segment turns into a commercial for the SNES Score Master and the Nintendo Scope. I’m not sure ‘buy this accessory to play the game better’ counts as a tip.

Lister throws a few snarky one liners and the video is over.  Like I said, this is simultaneously a great bonus item for a game and a terrible video. But adorably terrible.  Here it is.

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Shoot Some Diseases Into The Castle – Game Players Game Tape, Vol 1, Tape 6

The sixth in what must have been an exhaustive series of overpriced VHS tapes designed to milk ’80s gamers out of their hard-earned dollars in exchange for broad suggestions on how to play select games competently, this Game Players Magazine tape actually has some visual merits to it.

The frustrating part about the content is that these are games that actually need tips; the video covers Ultra’s TMNT, Metal Gear, Defenders of the Crown, and Skate or Die – pretty tough games.

The TMNT “tips” are frustrating in their broadness; “use Donatello against Rocksteady” doesn’t really constitute a tip. Also, 90% of the TMNT tips are “use Donatello”.

There’s an odd appearance/interlude by “the Creator”, a creepy hype man for the games featured in the video. Sort of a circular internal commercial for the games included in the video that you bought to help you beat the games that you already bought.

Metal Gear’s tips consist of “hey, recognize this screenshot and do the vague thing we’re telling you to do here”

If the flaming tips included in the video weren’t enough, there’s also an ad for a hotline to give you even more secrets for who-knows-what games! Seriously, you don’t know until you call, and at that point you’re at least two dollars deep.

Skate or Die’s tips include taking advantage of a turbo controller and getting a buddy to mash buttons while you get air. Sweet exploit, I guess. Another hot tip: be sure to land right, or you’ll fall. Money well spent, here.

Insert an odd ad for a wireless NES Advantage rip-off that is nothing short of amazing.

The tips for Defenders of the Crown are, at this point, predictably awful. “When jousting you want to hit your opponent, but not his horse.” Thanks!

A disappointing offering but hey, that’s the eighties for you. Silver lining: the video quality is fantastic.

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Friday Followup – 1982 Parker Brothers Game Catalog

Here’s Parker Brothers’ 1982 announcement of their entry into the videogame market.  You can tell they’re proud of their Star Wars license, and they should be! Their Empire Strikes Back game was really solid. But outside of four minutes spent on Star Wars and one minute spent on…Frogger… there’s not much else here to announce.

It’s interesting that the video makes the case that the videogame market has “barely been scratched”. In 1982. A year before the massive videogame crash in North America in 1983. Still, you’ve got to appreciate the confidence. And they came out with some good stuff!

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You’re In Showbiz! – Showbiz Pizza Training Videos

Showbiz Pizza Place was the Pepsi to Chuck E. Cheese’s Coke. The video game pizza parlor  boasted a superior band with the Rockafire Explosion and an inferior everything else. Chuck eventually absorbed Showbiz to create a grand unified theory of mediocre food and semi-operational robotics, but before that happened they were engaged in a brutal war to get you, your family, and your softball coach’s quarters.   We’ve all wondered whether we had what it took to be a Showbiz Pizza staff member, and it’s time to get some answers to that question with these training videos.

This 1981 video, Operation: Promotion explores the role of the Showbiz Program Director, that lucky person responsible for arranging in-restaurant events and out-in-the-world promotions. She also dresses in a ridiculous white outfit and top hat that she wears even when she’s by herself, in her office, on the phone.

She’s the one who drags an in-costume Billy Bob to every car dealership or gas station opening within a ten mile radius.  I’m pretty sure, however, that BiIlly Bob doesn’t ride to these things in-costume on the back of a motorcycle.

The Program Director also schmoozes the guests at the restaurant, aggressively pushing all of the potential functions that their Showbiz could perform for these people.  Best line: “Mom, ‘The Young and The Restless’ is on in the Sports Room if you’d like to watch that.”

Exhausting job, that of the Program Director.

Probably 90% of Showbiz’ business had to have been birthday parties.  Here’s a stiff, poorly produced video with mono audio that trains employees on…how to answer the phone to book a party. A whole video for this? A jester and a clown at your birthday party, and the “surprise” is a hug from Billy Bob? This arrangment makes no sense.

The sloppy production on this video makes Operation: Promotion come off like Citizen Kane.

It’s hard to know what to make of this one, Operation: Entertainment.  It’s a stream of consciousness riff on generally how to be “fun” as a waiter at Showbiz Pizza.  One take, one set, 8 minutes, aimed at people who were determined to be in need of fun lessons.

I can’t tell if he’s an employee of Showbiz Corporate or just some local comedian hired to riff.  Either way, it’s something special.

I think we’re all fully trained Showbiz employees at this point. See you at work tomorrow. And thanks, Brenda, for washing the uniform every night.

 

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Five Things – 5.8.17 – Some People Call This A War

The Front Line

This 1960s training film on the merits of good checkout procedure places an awful lot of responsibility for the store’s performance on what happens in the checkout lane.  Indeed, they are “The Front Line” in the grocery war.  Seriously, they just casually call it a war.

I’m not going to spend time romanticizing the actual advice given in this film; it boils down to ‘make the right amount of change’, ‘don’t get tricked by crooks’, and ‘sell stuff at the right price.” The way they give the advice, though, is great: the hair and fashion are top-notch for the era, and the large green “test room” has an awesome visual aesthetic.

The real star of the film, though, is the reality of the 1960s grocery store and the golden crossroad of an almost clinically clean store design filled with beautifully packaged processed foods.

It’s worth “checking out”.  Get it? Sorry. Here it is.

 

Cadbury’s Smash Commercial

Speaking of war, this 1970s spot for Cadbury’s mashed potatoes is nothing less than a declaration of it from those smug Martians.

 

Cosmography & Astrology

This beautifully confounding print from 1686 demonstrates the various applications of Cosmography and Astrology.

King Vitaman Commercial

I don’t know who these people thought they were fooling. This is a cereal made of styrofoam that nobody would enjoy.

 

You Are Too Fine

Heineken’s got the right hook, here.

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Five Things – 3.13.17 – That’s Why I’m In This Box

Invasion of Nintendo – Super Nintendo Infomercial

It’s always weird when Nintendo tries to be cool. Cool just isn’t their thing. This 1995 infomercial for the Super Nintendo is a perfect example of my point; it sets out to showcase the system’s lineup in an edgy, gritty way and it comes off looking like when the chaperones try to dance with the students..

Bush video, or Korn video?

A man in a video screen sends his dark agents to gather intel on the latest Nintendo games.  There’s an air of malice to the effort, but each outing quickly turns comical; there’s little edginess to be found in Yoshi’s Island, and even less in Donkey Kong Country.  The agents seem committed to torture in order to get the info they need, but the ‘torture’ ends up to be mild aggression and, in one case, just plain money.

There would have been good value in watching this as a kid in the mid-90s. There weren’t many chances to get a look at footage of games that weren’t out yet, and Killer Instinct is a pretty extreme title for Nintendo. Even though Super Mario RPG wouldn’t come out until the N64, it’s pretty exciting to see it here.

And speaking of N64, the video ends with the ultimate intel: a first glimpse at the new console from a Japanese convention. There’s not a lot to it, but what’s there is cool.

So yeah, a mixed bag.  The tone isn’t really congruent with the Nintendo we knew then or know now, but it was the ’90s and everyone was trying this sort of thing on.  Here’s the video:

 

1940s Catholic Truth Society Covers

Vintage Irish Book Cover enthusiast Hitone’s got some book covers from the Catholic Truth Society that are nothing short of breathtaking. Here are a few of my favorites – hit their site for the rest.

 

Big Loo

This “Giant Moon Robut” is flat-out terrifying. Just $9.99 in 1960s money!

Those teeth!

 

Cycles Rad

I’d like to live in this 1910 poster for a French Race sponsor.

Mend-Aid

Finally, this 1970 commercial for an adhesive glue that almost certainly gave anyone who touched it some sort of disease.

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Five Things – 2.6.17 – Two Simple Digits

The Y2k Family Survival Guide

Leonard Nimoy lends his credibility to this alarmist video produced to aid those concerned with the potential societal collapse caused by the world’s computers’ refusal to acknowledge the year 2000.

This video is one of several attempts to cash in on the hysteria around the Y2K phenomenon.  1999 was the perfect breeding ground for such a scam – nobody could say for sure that the Y2K alarmists were wrong, and nobody wanted to look like a fool. The President even appointed a Y2K Czar! And the Y2K Czar appeared in this video! What an honor!

While the content of the video is assuredly alarmist, and we’re reminded throughout that many people are probably going to die, the tone never rises above a typical infomercial level.  It’s not a frantic or panicked video, which makes it play pretty creepily.

It’s sort of an impressive effort that this video is an hour long – it’s really about 4 minutes of information repeated over and over again in different ways.  When the video feels like it needs a break from that, there are instances of what seems to be free-form musing on specific catastrophes that could occur.

There’s a lot of specific advice, too. Helpful nuggets, like “Don’t buy a machine gun and run to the woods.” We’re also encouraged to “enjoy the family time” when our systems fail us. I can only imagine the satisfaction that those who paid actual money for this VHS tape must feel. The video takes on a very nuclear-scare-era tone when advising preparedness: store fresh water all over your house, in any dark place, toilet safety in a world without plumbing, stock up on baby wipes to bathe with.  From here, it’s essentially a survivalist video – which makes for a good thirty minutes more content.  While the video stresses the importance of community, there’s an underlying addition of “but make sure you get yours first”, which is pretty ugly once you notice it.

Here it is.  Alarmist and cheesy, and a little bit alarming that so much time was spent on this. And that it probably made money.

 

French Mega Man 2 Commercial

There’s so much to love about this commercial for Mega Man 2 – from the newscaster Mario to the overacting live-action Mega Man to the shrouded, overacting Dr. Wily. Perfection.

 

Coors “Phone Home”

Amazing idea, amazing painting, amazing font. Amazing.

 

1979 Taco Bell Commercial

A patio? The Enchirito? Gas Rationing?

 

Sony Superscope Ad

Don’t make the oversight of building an elaborate stereo system and skipping out on the tape deck, guys. Rookie mistake.

 

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Five Things – 01.23.17 – Hit The Play Button And Go Blow Up Some Spaceships

Pioneer LaserActive Infomercial

In 1993 Pioneer released a sort of megadevice that combined CDs, Laserdiscs, video games, and  interactive karaoke CDs.  Called “LaserActive”, it retailed for just under $1000 and in a result that shocked nobody, was largely unsuccessful.

This 1993 “issue” of Zoom, the “Video Magazine” (what?) features the ins-and-outs of the LaserActive.  It’s a showcase of the technology itself, the software featured, and an awkward technical section that describes how to set the thing up.  Not sure that last part is “video magazine”-worthy but hey, I’m not a “video magazine” editor.

This video is about 40% content and 60% stock ’90s introspective flash and graphics. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The LaserActive software is impressive; games like Pyramid Patrol, Quiz Econosaurus, and I Will demonstrate the different types of game options available, and the quality of the (then) high technology is evident.

Here’s the thing: it’s actually a pretty impressive machine. In the early-to-mid nineties, in the aftermath of the VHS/Beta war, in the middle of the CD/Laserdisc/VHS landscape, and on the cusp of DVD’s entry into the foray (not to mention minidiscs and mp3s), a device that could do it all was a pretty novel idea.  And in that light, $970’s actually a value.  Still, that’s a high price point to rationalize.

An interesting experiment, albeit a failed one.  What do you think? Here’s the “video magazine”.

 

Cinnamon Crunch

In my day, Cap’n Crunch battled the Soggies. These white, wet embodiments of too much milk goofily tried to thwart the Cap’n and his child companions, to no success.  In the 1970s, though, the Cap’ns nemesis was a fellow pirate named Jean LaFoote. He had his own cereal, Cinnamon Crunch, years before Wendell and the bakers would come along and stake a claim on cinnamon-flavored cereal with their Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Here’s LaFoote’s finest hour.

 

EPCOT Horizons Commercial

It’s not often that I come across something about Horizons that’s new to me, so I’m excited to share this sedate 1980s EPCOT commercial focused entirely on Horizons.  Everything about it is great, but for some reason the music doesn’t feel like a total match.  Still, so good!

 

Mason Shoe Recruitment

This ad ran in men’s magazines in the 1960s, recruiting would-be door-to-door salesmen across the country.

 

1940s Band-Aid Commercial

This commercial features a fascinating and unsettling proof-of-concept, testing the band-aid’s adhesiveness on an egg. That glue is way too powerful.

Way too powerful. Man was not meant for this level of adhesion.

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Five Things – 10.3.16 – This Is My Door

Jim Henson’s The Cube

In the late 1960s, NBC had a short-lived Sunday afternoon anthology show titled NBC Experiment in Television. From what I can tell the show seems like a general-audience-aimed The Outer Limits, with an expectation for the audience to cut the NBC some slack if episodes strayed from traditional themes and formats.  In 1968, Jim Henson took a break from Muppet-ing to produce The Cube, an hour-long teleplay that aired on Experiment in Television in February of 1969.

the-cube

title

The Cube opens with the central character, The Man, upon his arrival and realization at his current situation.  He’s inside of a cube, presumably trapped, with nothing but white on the walls.  Throughout the hour he encounters several different people, who help him put together who and where he is; some arrive to assist him, others appear to test him, and still others show up to harass him.  All cause him to doubt both himself and the world around him.

opening family-visitors tv-professor-2

Each character enters and exits through doors that appear in The Cube, doors that vanish once that character leaves. Although he is told he is free to leave if he chooses, emphasis is placed on the doors that appear being that character’s door, and not The Man’s door.  Items appear and disappear as well, relating to the visitor’s need for it.  The Man increasingly feels like he’s on the outside of a colossal inside joke.

guitar religion

The episode does a pretty good job of setting both The Man and the audience’s expectations of these visitors intents and then turning those expectations over.  Each visitor embodies a theme of 20th-century life. Some are more blatant in their theme than others.

coffin

I won’t tell you how it ends; that feels cheap.  It only aired twice, once in 1969 and then in a replay in 1970.  To my knowledge it’s not available anywhere but on archive.org – there are no high-quality copies to be found.  It’s a fun watch, but I have to admit that I don’t know how I’d feel about this if I didn’t know that Jim Henson was behind it.  There’s a very college-psych-101-meets-drama-club vibe to it and while the acting and technical execution is great there’s still a whiff of something we’ve seen before in less-competent venues.

Definitely worth watching, though.  Here it is.

Intellivision Demo

If there’s a dryer way to deliver what was at the time an amazing piece of technology, I don’t think I’ve seen it.  The imagery and that early-’80s background music are fantastic, though.

 

 

Computer Criminals

I have no idea what this is from but I want to live in this hacker’s house.

computer-criminals

Choose

A 1989 anti-marijuana scare film, starring pre-Beverly-Hills-90210 Kathleen Robertson!

The best part is how it ends with the usual 1980s advice to give anyone who suggests using drugs “crazy” and “edgy” insulting excuses like, “I can’t today, I’m basket weaving!”.

 

Sweet Stalkin’

I mean, look at this.

sweet-stalkin

 

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Five Things – 03.07.16 – Tiny the Mustache Twirler Is Pointing At Me

Popular Science Covers

Here’s a roundup of some gorgeous covers of the long-running Popular Science magazine. Retrofuturism bliss ahead!

Popular Science 3 Popular Science 2 Popular Science 1

I particularly love this one featuring automotive issues as devils!

Popular Science 5

 

Blankety Blanks

This 1977 game show is an Australian version of The Match Game. Pretty much line-by-line. They even had their own Charles Nelson Reilly!

Blankety Blanks

Blankety Blanks 2

David

It’s probably my own ignorance that I don’t know who these celebrities are, but for me this is like what waking up in an alternate dimension in the 1970s and seeing their version of The Match Game would be.

 

Science Moves The Army

I’m not much of a war guy by any means; I certainly don’t plan to start any myself. This 1950s propaganda film about the role science is playing in military development, however, is still pretty fascinating.

 

Lucid Dream Machine

How about this crazy 1980s infomercially ad for a Lucid Dream Machine? Also, I’m in for two. Get me Preston Hogarth on the phone.

 

Bonk’s Adventures Commercial

A super cute animated 1990s Bonk’s Adventure (called PC Kid in Japan) commercial rounds us out this week.

 

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