Gears of War – ‘Mad World’
It has been more than ten years since this incredible trailer first dropped. Without forgetting to show how the player would act in the game, the combination of visuals and music in the commercial perfectly captures the tone Microsoft was going for in the original Gears of War. The crumbling city, the dark, rain-soaked setting, and the lyrics of Gary Jules’ cover of the Tears for Fears song emphasizes the idea that the player will be struggling to survive in a harsh world.
Removing the in-game sounds ensures the viewer focuses on the music, making the message of the trailer even stronger. However, this doesn’t remove the horror aspect of the game. The way the locust enemy lurks in the darkness in the final moments, as Marcus Fenix cowers, shows the terror in the game that comes from somewhere other than the game’s theme and setting. It is an incredibly powerful trailer that undoubtedly had much to do with they game’s popularity in 2006.
Sega Dreamcast Commercial (1999)
Sega produced a few memorable commercials for the Dreamcast in the late ’90s but none are more iconic than the first one in the above collection of adverts. Shot like a music video, the ad places the character, representing the player, in a number of situations that you would find in games on the console – from stealth action to racing, all tied together to create one chase sequence.
The futuristic visuals and pumping techno music suggest to the viewer that Sega’s product is from the future and the slogan, “it’s thinking”, emphasizes the machine’s intelligence. With the terrible acting and cheesy action, it is an interesting way to present a new console but it certainly depicts the Dreamcast in the way Sega wanted people to think of it.
Halo: Reach – ‘Deliver Hope’
The Halo franchise has had a few excellent commercials over the years. Halo 3’s ‘Believe’ trailer is well-known, but Halo: Reach’s famous advert is probably the best. It essentially acts as a prologue to the game’s story, taking place on Reach and telling the brief story of how you came to take over from another Spartan in the Human-Covenant war.
The soft, emotional music juxtaposes the images of war and death and directs focus towards the story being told by the trailer. The spartan grabs a fusion bomb from the fallen soldier and flies upwards to deliver the payload. He isn’t able to escape before it detonates, and his sacrifice has a huge impact on both sides. The Deliver Hope commercial is visually stunning and perfectly introduces Halo fans to the tone and story of Halo: Reach.
Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo games are, more often than not, lighthearted affairs focused on teamwork and friendship. The Super Smash commercial begins with some of Nintendo’s most famous characters having fun in a park, skipping, and holding hands when suddenly… Yoshi gets a kick in the shin from Mario and a brawl breaks out. Mixing gameplay clips in to show off the more sophisticated combat, the advertisement makes the game’s premise of fighting with some of your favorite characters clear whilst keeping the lighthearted tone that Nintendo is synonymous with.
The announcement trailer for the first Dead Island game is one the most powerful and effective video game trailers of all time. Players hadn’t seen anything like it before and many of them remember it more than any part of the final game. Over the course of its three minute run time, it tells the story of a young family on vacation that fail to escape a zombie attack. However, it is not told in a way you would expect.
It begins by showing a young girl lying on the floor, covered in blood, as a figure stumbles around on fire behind her. It then begins to tell the story of what happened to her in reverse chronology, with short forward playing moments interrupting. It is scored by an emotional piece of music, littered with screams and shrieks, that emphasizes yet juxtaposes the on-screen happenings. It is a testament to the designers of the commercial that you feel for the family by the time it comes to a close. It also doesn’t refrain from covering the gameplay of Dead Island, with over the top zombie killing action making up most of the commercial. It is an unforgettable, emotional advertisement for an otherwise forgettable game.
Xbox Live – ‘Standoff’
This commercial for Xbox Live was never released for broadcast but it went viral after players found out it had been banned. The title describes exactly what happens as a group of people point imaginary guns at each other in a crowded station, representing online shooters. It is all presented in a lighthearted way, with some funny ‘deaths,’ but considering the potential real world re-enactments, it is understandable why it was banned, unlike other Xbox Live commercials. Not all great video game commercials have seen the light of day.
PlayStation – Long Live Play
PlayStation’s ‘Long Live Play’ commercial follows the basic idea of video game characters flocking to the same place to celebrate the player, called Michael Mamaril, a gamer who died of cancer at the tender age of 22, in the case of the ad. The way it is presented, however, is ingenious. The iconic PlayStation characters, from Nathan Drake to Sackboy, are recreated in live action, with quotes from each of the games played over the speaking of the actors.
Having the correct voices make the meeting feel real and most of them even look mostly like their in-game counterparts. It is an excellent alternative look at a selection of the best characters to grace Sony’s consoles. It was released as an advert for the PlayStation brand as a whole, rather than for a specific game, but maybe it acted as a hype-builder for PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale.
There were many fun commercials released to promote Crash Bandicoot. Many used real life situations and linked them to in-game footage. One of the most memorable is one in which someone dressed as Crash stands outside a Nintendo office with a megaphone, calling out Mario and his pals. In the back of his truck he ‘has a surprise’ for Nintendo in the shape of some television screens showing the game in action. Crash then gets confronted by security that attempt to usher him away but he continues to sell them the game by presenting gameplay and describing its best features. This is just one of the iconic adverts ever released for Crash Bandicoot.
PlayStation Baby Commercial
Sony initiated a huge marketing push, without lots of commercials, in the run up to the PlayStation 3’s launch and it couldn’t have started in a weirder way. The 30 second advert sees a doll sat in a bright white room, staring at a PlayStation 3. It then begins to speak, making strange noises and muttering things in different tones and its mouth becomes deformed in the process. Images including that of the console are reflected in the eyes of the doll and then it ends. It is creepy, difficult to understand, and it’s a great way to market and sell a new console. Viewers were scared and anyone that saw it probably never forgot it, with it staying with them for much longer than Sony’s other commercials. I cannot imagine that this was a successful marketing tactic for Sony.
Sega Genesis – ‘Genesis Does’
The ‘Genesis Does’ commercial is another example of a console manufacturer taking shots at Nintendo in the way they promote their own console. This advert includes the chanting of “Genesis does” followed by a game or feature of the console. It goes on to boast about the 16-bit graphics and the games that come free with the system. The jumpy song, reminiscent of what you’d hear in an old aerobics video, is catchy and the repetitive lyrics stick in your mind. It ends with the slogan ‘Genesis Does What Nintendon’t’ playing on their rival’s name and telling players that their system offers more.