Video games, and video game advertising, have come a long way in 20 years. When Nintendo's N64 console launched 20 years ago in Japan, it marked the beginning of a revolution.
Nintendo's 1996 machine would see countless classics released for it, with one of the most notable being the 3D platforming perfection of Super Mario 64. It was one of the first of its kind and gaming would never be the same.
The N64 was released in Japan in June 1996, but it wouldn't be until September that the console would arrive in the United States. When it did, it was accompanied by some of the most '90s TV advertisements the industry has ever seen.
For some context, here's an example of a Japanese N64 commercial that emphasizes Super Mario 64. Notice how it shows plenty of gameplay and focuses on the console's new controller?
It lets the product speak for itself. Sure, there's nothing particularly flashy about it, but it lets the game and the console do the talking.
And here's the commercial American audiences received, which is mostly focused on being as "cool" as possible. Why is it necessary to insert a random kid into the action of Super Mario 64? To show how real it is maybe? The world may never know. The world may also never know who is responsible for writing the commercial's laughably bad script.
"What am I, a monkey?" exclaims the kid at one point while climbing monkey bars behind Mario. While it may have worked at the time (maybe?), going back and watching the ad today is a serious blast from the past, and not in a good way.
Advertisements for the 1996 holiday season didn't fare much better. Instead of putting an emphasis on the new hardware or all the cool new games, the commercial invents a cheesy Christmas jingle about kids bummed out about their non-Nintendo 64-related gifts.
Of course, this is far from the only two examples of Nintendo's strange U.S. advertisements over the years. The 1998 release of Pokémon Red and Blue in the United States also saw a number of bizarre ads, most notably this one that sees a bus full of cute and innocent Pokémon smashed by a trash compactor. Nintendo's ads have truly come a long way.