If you have ever been particularly terrified by a commercial or just completely tickled by some marketing campaign, it was probably Nintendo. As their latest little marketing tactic, Nintendo of America’s Twitter account has been taken over by the character Cranky Kong as a promotion for the new Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on Nintendo Wii U. It’s quirky, it’s hilarious, and it’s all in good fun. This is the essence of Nintendo games, and it’s always a treat when their marketing teams get in on the fun as well, so let’s take a look at some of our favorite Nintendo marketing campaigns and commercials over the years.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
This commercial for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask premiered in 2000 and still holds up pretty well as a nice example of pure nightmare fuel. One of the best things about it though is how the dark nature of the commercial perfectly encapsulates the feeling of the Nintendo 64 game, from its atmosphere of imminent doom to maintaining Zelda elements inside a completely different game. It tells the viewer that the world this ending, this game is a big deal, you don’t want to miss out on this. It’s spectacular and spooky and I wish they made more video game commercials like it.
Pokémon Red and Blue (1998)
Here’s a bus driver that’s tired of driving those little bastards around town to seemingly nowhere, just shouting their own names the entire time. He’s pushed to his limit, so he does what any sensible, sane person would do, and crushes them into oblivion. Not really, they just end up packed into a Game Boy playing Pokémon Red and Blue. Still, it’s pretty brutal. Sure, it may not tell you all about what the game may be about, but the blend of live-action and animation is eye-catching and just plain awesome.
Luigi Rides the Chicago “L” Train (2013)
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) August 12, 2013
The entire Year of Luigi campaign is probably the greatest thing since sliced bread, and one of the greatest moments came when Luigi rode around in the Chicago “L” Train in promotion of New Super Luigi U for the Nintendo Wii U. Throughout the day, the Nintendo of America chronicled the green clad brother on his journey, winding up at Clark/Lake station where machines were set up all day, allowing people to give the new game a try. You bet your ass if I had nothing to do that day and happened to be on that same train, I would follow him to the ends of the earth.
Super Smash Bros. (1999)
A classic. Mario and friends passive aggressively frolic in a field for as long as they can. Fortunately, bloodlust sets in and they proceed to pummel the living daylights out of each other. It’s hilarious, it’s adorable, it’s Super Smash Bros. Commercials like this pique the imagination with the sheer possibilities of what could be in store if you buy this game. Once the announcer recounts that everyone’s gone nuts in the Nintendo world, you can only imagine how you’ll begin to bring the pain as Jigglypuff. It’s got that element of mystery that works on so many levels.
Super Mario 3D World (2013)
This one here is special. It’s not a commercial, but rather a launch trailer that totally should have been a commercial. It starts out with a bunch of people just making all sorts of faces or yelling at something, presumably the TV screen while they play Super Mario 3D World. Why does this work so well? Because those are exactly the emotions you’ll be experience while you play 3D World. Personally, Super Mario 3D World has reserved a spot as one of, if not the, greatest game I have ever played, and the trailer exemplifies that in showing how much fun can be had with it. The actual commercials for the game are okay, in that they show gameplay and people having fun and all that, but nothing about it feels very real. Play the game with a group of friends and you’ll likely laughing and screaming together, not just smiling next to your parents.
Wii Would Like to Play (2006)
Nintendo was spot on for a while. The then new and bizarre Nintendo Wii console was sold to practically everyone, and Nintendo found just the way to do it: target EVERYONE. This commercial showed people of all ages and background playing all types of games on the Wii system, and having a badass time doing it. Abuela just beat her grandson’s ass in Wii Sports Boxing. They went for something, and they achieved it masterfully. If you had opened up your door two random suited Japanese men, would you invite them in? Only if they’re from Nintendo.
There’s no telling how Nintendo will begin to tackle future titles for their Wii U and 3DS systems. It’s no secret that the Wii U isn’t selling as well as they had hoped, and it’s undeniable that more accessible, inviting, and intriguing commercials like the ones above would give it a big boost. Year of Luigi, which I refuse to believe is actually ending, was an excellent start; it was hilarious and everyone knew about it. The Cranky Kong twitter campaign is also a riot with him fiddling with memes and poking fun at critiques on the game being “cheap” because of its difficulty. SHOTS FIRED.
Practically everyone is rooting for Nintendo to hang in there, but they’ve got to pull out all the stops. They have a fantastic track record in the marketing department, so let’s hope they kick things into high gear sooner rather than later. The Nintendo Direct presentations are great in getting their ideas out there to the video game community, but television commercials are what get the most attention. Assuming they start spicing up their current marketing strategies once again, I am very excited to see what’s in store. Here’s to an excellent new generation of video marketing.
Do you have any favorite Nintendo commercials or campaigns? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!