Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A brief history of Nintendo’s weird-ass commercials

Most big companies are so scared of their shareholders that their commercials tread a few comfortable lines, whether it’s having annoying people singing bad versions of popular songs or doing some variation of whatever the hell Geico’s been doing for the last gazillion years. The stakes were lower in the ’80s and ’90s, though, and nobody seized upon that freedom in marketing like Nintendo, whose commercials were legitimately bizarre.


If you’re looking to get both nostalgic and absolutely disgusted, YouTuber Cleanprincegaming, an admitted Nintendo superfan, just released a new video detailing the history of the ads with a special emphasis on the weirdest of the weird.

Remember that one where a guy ate too much food and literally exploded, spraying green goo over a bunch of diners? That was supposed to sell Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. And, somehow, it worked.

Or the one where a kid discovers his dad (and grandpa) like wearing women’s clothing? And gets an N64 out of it or something? That aged well.

Or this goddamned nightmare (which was apparently pulled shortly after release for being so scary)?

The video’s history lesson is extremely thorough, chronicling the wild early days of the SNES, N64, and GameCube, as well as the lack of inspiration that came once Nintendo tried appealing to the entire family with the Wii. What’s best, however, is the oodles of clips, which span more commercials than you can count.


You just might not want to watch while you’re eating. Most of these were made during the “slime generation,” meaning that even the best commercials thought the best way to appeal to kids was to make everything goopy.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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