Is That Legal? – Coleco Adam Ads (1983)

It’s not enough, apparently, to have a successful video game console; there’s a long history of the industry trying to sweeten the appeal of the purchase by promoting or promising additional non-gaming features.  Sony wanted you to run Linux on your PS3, Microsoft wanted your Xbox One to be a cable box and DVR, Nintendo…

You Want A Banana? – Donkey Kong Country Exposed (1994)

If you were a Nintendo Power subscriber in 1994 you might have come home from school to find a VHS sitting in your mailbox.  Donkey Kong Country Exposed was a 15-ish minute promotional video about the making of the upcoming (revolutionary) Donkey Kong Country title for the Super Nintendo, and it’s everything that was wrong…

It Keeps My Kids At Home – SEGA Game Channel Infomercial (1990s)

The fact that streaming video game services are only just now entering the mainstream shows how innovative The SEGA Channel was in the early 1990s.  Harnessing the power of and the enthusiasm for cable TV, SEGA worked with local providers to roll out the SEGA Channel in 1994.  This subscription service ($13/mo) offered a rotating…

Since The Invasion – Manhunter (1988)

Sierra On-Line had a pretty great thing going in the ’80s, but it was also a pretty specific thing.  Game series like King’s Quest, Police Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Quest for Glory and one-offs like Gold Rush! and Codename: Iceman had really distinct worlds, characters, and storylines but all followed the same…

Let’s Get Warty – Battletoads (1990s)

Despite being an awesome yet punishingly difficult NES game (and later SNES, Genesis, and more), Battletoads always had the stink of a late-to-the-party reaction to the runaway success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Teenagers turn into green animals who fight to save the day from weird-looking enemies.  There were a few points of differentiation that would probably…

All Those Ghosts Turn Blue – Pac Man Ads (1980s)

Readers of this blog are already aware of my distinct fondness for video game box art, particularly from the early 1980s. The disparity between the elaborate imagery on game boxes and in marketing materials and what players saw on the screen with the actual gameplay isn’t too surprising given the limited technology of the time,…

Christmas, 1982 – The Wing Broke Off And I Ate It

1982 brought a lot of cool things into the world. E.T. was released, as was the Commodore 64.  Sony launched its first CD Player, Disney opened EPCOT Center, and Michael Jackson released Thriller.  Atari blessed the world with Pitfall!, and the 1982 World’s Fair introduced us to the Sunsphere (or Wigsphere, depending on which narrative you adopt).  Here’s…

Christmas 1981 – We’ll Be Back To Pick You Up Later

1981. By the time Santa came, the world had been through the ringer.  Bob Marley died, Reagan was shot, Walter Cronkite left our televisions, the first AIDS cases were officially recognized, Muhammed Ali lost his last ever fight, the Cold War raged on, and the Iran Contra scandal caught its spark. But! Also in 1981,…

The Angry Red Planet – Total Recall (NES) (1991)

I’m  always only ever an inch away from starting a Total Recall blog.  For better or worse, it’s probably my favorite movie of all time.  There’s a surprising amount of stuff to unpack with Total Recall too – the would-be Cronenberg treatment, the Piers Anthony novelization that took severe liberties with the story, the spin-off…

Where The Future Comes From – 1983 Atari In-House Promo

It’s easy to contain Atari nostalgia in a memory of charming simplicity. The 2600 and 5200 served as building blocks (no pun intended) for the lush and vibrant gaming worlds we take for granted today, and when we look back at that generation the graphics, sound, and gameplay seem like a natural “step one” to…