They say that sex sells and Nintendo were not shy of accompanying that to their Western market in the 90’s and 00’s. There have been some interesting, gross and downright silly advertisements used for the video games industry in the past and I thought I would guide you through some of Nintendo’s highlights when it came to the different Game Boy releases. It always makes me wonder who from Nintendo approved of these advertising campaigns before they hit the streets, TV and magazines. A lot of these ads are in conjunction with other companies who sell their products, so many big names have looked at these ads and thought: “Yes, that will do just nicely. Here come the big bucks.”
Game Boy Advance SP
This image was found through Reddit and was an advertisement by American superstore ‘Walmart’. The Game Boy Advance SP was a brilliant upgrade from the Game Boy Advance with its new compact flip screen look and backlight installed. It was a handheld console that I personally loved and still use today to play Game Boy games on. Here we see Walmart informing men that they can avoid their relationships and marriages briefly and escape into the world of Nintendo… now I’m not saying this advert is sexist or anything, but video games in the mid-2000’s were still greatly advertised towards the male population. It’s almost saying marriage takes away all of your fun or trying to warn men that’s there’s still a way to enjoy yourself. We’re only one advert in!
Here comes the sexual content with tongue-in-cheek puns about video games being almost, or just as fun as sex. in terms of actually selling the console, the ‘Leo Burnett’ advertisement is highlighting the backlight screen which was a big deal for a handheld console at the time. Before the SP you would have had to buy a separate contraption that fitted onto a Game Boy Colour.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room on the second slide, in the bottom right hand corner. Intentionally highlighted in red, it says ‘for men’ and no doubt this advertisement would have been found in ‘lad mags’ such as ‘Nuts’, ‘Zoo’ and ‘FHM’ back in the mid-2000s which were very popular amongst adolescent men. It further highlights my points in the previous advert about male targeting and furthermore adult male targeting. Sure Mario is for kids, but adults have disposable income! What are you supposed to do after your two minutes of glory, go to bed? Nah, whip out the old SP as your girlfriend slowly grows disinterested in you.
The Game Boy Pocket
Damn Nintendo and lad mags do create some of the most un-Nintendo adverts. The Game Boy Pocket was released in 1996 and was a smaller version of the original Game Boy and required less batteries. It’s cheap price was its main advertisement and has been a gimmick Nintendo would use on future tech releases. Here we have an advert that says even if you had a pretty girl tied up in your bed, those Tetris blocks aren’t going to eliminate themselves! I think we all share the expression on the woman’s face, “Seriously?”
The second Game Boy Pocket advert here is just plain disturbing. Who in their right minds in the 90’s thought: “Hey, so we’re releasing a range of colours for the new Game Boy which is a huge deal and to help advertise this to the masses I was thinking, tongues!” People were really kinky in the 90’s or so it would seem.
The Game Boy Micro
Wow. That mouse REALLY likes the Game Boy Micro. And underrated Nintendo console that I think my hands might be a bit too big for, but hey Nintendo clearly feared nothing in the mid-2000’s. They were absolutely fine to have a mouse hump their new machine.
The Game Boy
Right I can’t say I’ve ever had a ferret down my trousers or intend to, but don’t those things have claws? Pretty sure the expression our friend in the advert is pulling is not one out of enjoyment, but sheer pain. I’d love to know who this was trying to target. I mean we see a young adult male, so were men putting ferrets down their trousers a lot in the 90’s? Please comment.
Oh boy where do I even begin with this one? I’m lost for words and I mean why are we talking about graphics of a Game Boy game being amazing, surely the gameplay itself is where what we should be looking at? I don’t want to say anything more on this one. This advert happened and I’ll leave it at that.
“How much fun can you handle?” asks the Nintendo advert for the ability to play the Game Boy wherever you like. Nearly 30 years later, Nintendo ran a pretty similar campaign upon the launch of the Nintendo Switch and by no means was the Game Boy the first portable console, but it was massive and the fact you could take this wonderful machine anywhere was a big deal. This quick-firing photoshop-galore video features the console in the hands of a Mao statue, a bikini, on the set of the movie Coneheads and a skydiver. I mean it’s not wrong you could play it anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you should.
This advert for the Game Boy Camera doesn’t just turn photography into “funtography.” The events make it look like the camera could end world peace if you shoved a Game Boy in front of world leaders. Got a bully problem? Don’t worry, just whip out the camera! Trying to get with a girl? Just whip out the camera! It’s that easy folks.
To conclude, I thought I would include this classic advertisement of The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening which is absolutely hilarious! Featuring the classic comedy and witty styling of the late Rik Mayall it goes to show that not all adverts from Nintendo in the past were grim and there were plenty of tasteful ones which we might visit one day.
*Any adverts used in this piece have been sourced through Google with no intent of profiting from them.*