No doubt many of you who read comics (or at least, those who actually go and buy comic books instead of just reading scans online) know that comic books and video game advertising have been intertwined for quite some time. To that end, some advertisers actually took that as a cue to turn their page or two of space into a short comic itself, to entice their targeted audience into giving these things a try.
So here’s a collection of video game advertisements, in comic form, that I was able to find, courtesy of the Video Game Museum. Who, by the way, also have plenty more ads and pics from video games across the ages.
“Maxy?” When I first glanced at this, I thought it was supposed to be a parody of “Macy’s.” Sadly, it’s not even that clever. Luckily, there are better ones ahead, I just wanted to get this dud out of the way first.
Oh, and just remember what this one taught you: your friends will only like you if you’ve got the COOL toys.
Here’s one for Battlezone. One thing I always found interesting in older boxart and ads like this was the artistic license taken with what the game was about, as the graphics really just weren’t much to look at, as you can see here.
Of course, that doesn’t really do much to explain Mega Man‘s NES box art. But ironically, it did make an interesting case for many early NES games that used “actual” representations of the game’s graphics on the box. There were some mild touch-ups here and there, but nothing to this degree until later.
Now, if you’re new to this whole video games thing… maybe your first system is a Wii or a PS2, and you start hearing about this “Bonk” guy. Turns out he was effectively the “Mario” or “Sonic” for the TurboGrafx16, and the most exposure a lot of people probably had to the guy was this:
There were some TV ads, too, and it looked like a neat game, but personally, it made me a little sad it wasn’t on NES or Super NES, more than it made me want a TurboGrafx. And now, some 15 or so odd years later, things have come full circle.
And it’s ok. I’ve heard better about the sequels, though. Wonder what they could do with a 3D game…
One thing I did like about several of these types of ads was how it sort of gave you a “head start” on what’s going on, then leaves the ending open with some sort of peril… but rather than continuing in the next issue, you continue it by playing the game.
Ah, Joust. Now that’s an interesting one. I’m more a Balloon Fight man myself, but it’s hard to deny just the basic premise of coolness which knights riding on ostriches over lava, dodging pterodactyls, carries with it.
And it seems that Hollywood agrees. Personally, I think making movies and such off of games with a more limited premise is a better idea than a lot of the stuff they’ve been doing. Just fit in the key elements of the game, and you’re pretty much free from there. No names to change, histories to alter, or other things to ruin.
Not that the idea is foolproof, or anything…
…actually, that trailer still rocks, so nevermind.
I only ever saw this in one comic book ever, Marvel’s TransFormers #3, which I didn’t get until quite some time later. It was interesting; I was a huge Mario fan (still am), and here was this ad-comic I’d never seen before. Turns out, as I discovered even later, it was more or less based on a TV commercial that held the same tune.
I always felt sorry for Luigi in this. And it still remains my favorite of the type to this day.
This one gets passed around imageboards quite a bit, often with modification. It’s not for a game per se, but it IS game-related and follows the format, so I figured I’d throw it in.
Otherwise, the less said, the better. Just the thought of Mario hanging out while kids are bathing…
I never played this one, and little to say. Except, since when was anything on the Atari 2600 (except maybe Pong?) just like in the arcade?
Ah, Mountain King… I don’t know you, either. Or who they were trying to push this towards, with the balding 40-year old virgin there. But I’m sure you were lots of fun!
And now we come to Plok, who’s effectively responsible for this whole mess, as it was his ad in an old magazine I flipped through while cleaning up that lead me to seek out these other ads.
This one, I never played either. Given that we don’t have Plok HD or are guiding his hands with touchscreens, I’m guessing he didn’t have much staying power. But despite that, this comic’s always held a small curiousity for me.
“Solar Fox?” Hmm, I wonder if the guys who named Star Fox were aware of this. Maybe the latter was meant as parody/homage? I really have no clue.
Anyway, for the ad itself… wow, what can you say?
Well, for starters, in the writing they used, it looks like they keep saying “Solar Fok,” which is at least good for a chuckle. Especially when you consider that his girlfriend would probably say “oh, Fok!” and give people the wrong idea…
…if she wasn’t so damned vapid. Look at her expressions, she is so not digging that her boyfriend there is too busy flying (with delicate hands, no less) through space for the fate of the Earth. Also note the dynamic background which completely contrasts with her utter lack of interest and half-hearted “awesome” comment.
The next to last panel is where the gold is, though. Besides the ginger touch he’s giving the joystick, his thoughts on her driving help make this ad worthwhile. “What a space cadet,” he thinks. Going by the Wiktionary, a “space cadet” is “a slang term for a person under the influence of drugs, or a person who is easily distracted from reality.” Yup, I’d say that fits her to a T!
Spider-man Vs. The X-Men here is an interesting study. See, the funny thing about ads in comic books for video games based on comic books is that, from what I’ve found, they’ve never used the comic panel format to tell the game’s story (with a few exceptions that fit screenshots in, notably a Hulk game).
This was about the closest I found, and it doesn’t even really tell a story. The most fascinating part to me, however, is that the ad seems to completely ignore the sole female playable character, Storm, in favor of the Juggernaut, who I think was a boss character.
There was another ad for this game, a two-page spread with some comic splash art, which probably did the job a lot better than this.
And finally, we have Splatterhouse:
Like Bonk’s Adventure, Splatterhouse is another game which recently obtained the opportunity to gain a new audience by appearing on the Wii’s Virtual Console, since it was just in arcades and on TurboGrafx16. Also like Bonk, it had the benefit of a two page ad to get its point across.
With all that blood they show, you’d think that the modern rating would be an “M for Mature,” but no. Surprisingly, the ESRB website gives it a mere “T for Teen” rating for… “Blood and Gore, Violence.” Yeah, I’m getting mixed signals here. Shoot up a ton of zombies (Resident Evil), get an M rating. Obliterate an opponent’s body in an absurdly comic fashion while spraying more blood than the human body can even hold (Mortal Kombat), get an M rating.
A female university student gets kidnapped by God-knows-what, and her boyfriend wakes up in a pool of blood with the Terror Mask on, and starts beating the stuffing out of more God-knows-what with a giant crowbar, and you’re only slapped with a T.
Maybe it’s just not as bad as the comic makes it seem? Oh advertising, you tease…
Naturally, there are other video game ads that take the form of comics, and some would argue that any comic book based on a game counts (like Sonic the Hedgehog by Archie, nearing its 200th issue, a definite record). There have also been short comics in Nintendo Power and other publications for games like Battletoads and the original Sonic the Hedgehog (which was quite different from Archie’s ongoing tale), running for several pages.
But those are more akin to being their own brand of beast, not quite the same as what we’ve seen here today, wherein someone used the regular ad space given to try to create an enticing narrative, rather than just a big splash image and a catchphrase or a bad tagline that doesn’t really get the point across so well.
Sure, a game like New Super Mario Bros. or some version of Madden probably doesn’t need to use this tactic (though I am curious as to what a Madden ad-comic would entail, but I think that this would be a good tool for newer franchises to attempt to utilize as they try to draw in new people.