The top ten most ridiculous retro video game ads

6 min read

Marketing a game is pretty easy these days. A mysterious package here, a bribe over there and a few teaser trailers thrown in for good measure and BAM! Job done, time to hit the bar. The thing is, gaming adverts these days are missing a certain something, a particular ingredient that has been lost over the years. I’m talking about downright tripping the light fantastic madness. Here’s ten adverts from yesteryear that downed a bottle of absinthe and then had some crystal meth for breakfast.

STD Game Products


Just look at the face on that guy. He’s the cumulative worst fear of every single political and watchdog group out there that has an axe to grind against video games.

He is the Pol Pot of Playstation, the Stalin of Sega and the Napoleon of Atari. And he’s armed to the teeth with STDs according to that advert. He’ll kill us all!



Ladies, gentlemen and Sir Richard Attenborough, behold! The first recorded sighting of the elusive…geekgasm.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game


True story: All arcade games are inherently sticky. Most of the time though, that’s thanks to sweat, soft drinks and assorted bodily fluids. But did you ever play an arcade game that was covered in mutagenic slime?

And did you ever roll some random animals in the stuff just to see what would happen? Uh, no, me neither. Total truth.

Sega Saturn

Gaming has had plenty of mascots over the years. Sonic, Mario and Johnny TurboGrafx to name a few. And then there was Sega Saturn’s Segata Sanshiro.

The manliest of all mascots! Sanshiro could throw a zombie in an arm-lock and turn him into a productive member of society! Sanshiro could waltz through a flower field and he’d still be manlier than a rugby team. Sanshiro could solve any problem with the gentle art of violent Judo.

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Because when you live in the mountains and dedicate your life to benchpressing an oversized Sega Saturn in the pursuit of true video game skill you…I have no idea where the hell I’m going with this. SO to conclude:


Top Gear


Ha! These days, wearing a bag with the FCUK label is seen as harmless, but back in the early 1990s, such crude wordplay was for the sick and mentally-deviant! Why, you’d have to be a buck futter to engage in such rude shenanigans!


I could describe this advert for you. But then I’d rob you of the joy of seeing a lady snuggle up to a giant centipede while it’s omega-level big brother lays waste to our civilisation.



And I thought my family was weird. Mostly because they’re random people that I’ve taken off the street with the old gag of “Does this smell like chloroform to you?”, then tied up and placed at my table. But when your family includes a punk rocker, grandma fresh from her local chapter meeting of the Hells Angels and Bill Nye the science guy.

Also, is that Kirsty Shaman’s dog, Tyson, in the corner there?

Nintendo Powerglove


I actually owned a Nintendo powerglove at one point. It was the precursor to gesture based gaming, and had me wiggling my arm long before the Wii or Kinect came out on shelves.

But I bought it for one reason: To be M Bison. After seeing Raul Julia kick all kinds of ass in the Street Fighter movie, I wanted to grow up and become him. So when I spotted the glove at a flea market, I bought it, strapped it on and prepared my mind, body and soul for a dose of PSYCHO POWER!

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Dammit, I wasted ten bucks of that pile of fabric crap.

Eternal Champions


Oooo, you just got served Street Fighter! These days, it’s unheard of to say that your specific brand of whatever knocks the stuffing out of rival X, in any form of media. And believe me, if that wasn’t the case, I’d be funding a series of adverts that were cunningly disguised hunting trips in which the most dangerous game of all was hunted: The Vanish detergent ladies. Lets see ‘em get blood stains out of their own clothing for once.

But back in the 90s, fighting games were everywhere. Hell, even Shaquille O’Neal had one. So how did such games stand apart from everyone else back then? Great graphics? A unique gimmick? Hells to the no!

You slandered the hell out of the competition!

Nintendo Entertainment System

Leave it to Australia, the land of nightmare fuel wildlife, to take something as wholesome as the Nintendo Entertainment System and make it the focal point of several sessions of therapy.

Those lifeless eyes, that unending judgemental gaze, that robotic voice…Oh my Bod, Nintendo won after all. They’ve enslaved mankind, and we’re all just their pawns in a grand game of life and death.


Honourary mention: The Legend of Zelda

I’ll let this epic rap speak for itself. Also, don’t hate me, hate Geoff for reminding about this advert.

Last Updated: May 3, 2013

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

  • Deon Steyn

    These adds remind me of gaming magazines before we had the internet.

    • Aussious

      Yeah a true golden age in itself, I actually used to collect Game Pro and CVG, makes me feel kinda old.

  • Rince da Ref Lvl2

    I miss this age of innocence! I want my Nintendo Power mag again!

  • Ultimo_Cleric_N7


  • ah the 90s… best decade ever : 1987-1997. All started going downhill from there

    • Aussious

      you left out 1999… The year that brought us Half Life, FFVIII and Metal Gear Solid oh and the little Sega console that almost could with a arcade port of Soul Calibur.

  • brian

    hahahah crazy shit but funny that time it worked people saw the ad and gone to go and buy what ever was advertised

  • I really loved the first Gameboy advert that aired here in SA. I can’t find it on youtube, but the kids were on a bus and then they were zapped inside a game of Tetris. I’m so glad my parents got me a Gameboy that christmas. I think it actually cost R599!

  • Aussious

    So a company called STD actually encouraged kids to play with themselves using their gadgets…How very modern.

  • matthurstrsa

    I used to cut the cool ads out of the magazines and stick them in a book to look at later. Spent hours just paging through.

  • HvR

    aaah 80’s rap ads, brilliant. There is podcast called Lasertime about guys in their early 30’s talking about pop and gaming culture during the 80’s and 90’s, they did a whole episode on corny rap songs used in ads and as theme songs for kid shows.

    Also with that Zelda rap ad there is Japanese ad with all the cosplay characters performing a MJ style group dance to a Japanese Zelda rap.

  • Eternal champions…damn I miss that game:(

  • i remember that ninja turtle game spent HOURS on that

  • TiMsTeR1033

    Anyone remember Tv show Cybernet?? i miss those days.

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