I've had my Sears Catalog and
1981 Atari Catalog
scans wind up on a number of popular sites like Digg, Reddit, Kotaku, and
Fark. It was unexpected but by no means unwelcome. I
learned two things from these experiences:
1) There are a couple thousand folks
interested in looking at old video game marketing scans
2) ~1% of those
viewing said scans are overly-sensitive whiners
To expand on 2), it turns
out I deeply offended a few with the following comments:
Pele is the most famous soccer player of all time and I still have no idea who he is.
I'll take any of these games over Grand Theft Auto II: San Vice Andreas City or whatever it's called.
Night Driver was fun, albeit with a soundtrack that makes Aphex Twin sound pleasant.
[Referring to the Sega Master System] Face it, if you admitted to owning any of this stuff you'd be crammed into a gym locker.
I don't see how these could have been interpreted as anything
other than a joke. Besides, I figured no one actually liked any of
So here I am posting another set of scans and have to make
a decision, do I:
a) Go out of my way to not say anything that could even
remotely upset anyone ever
b) Go out of my way to work in comments that I'm positive will
c) Continue my policy of not caring, dating back to when I started this site
I gotta admit, it's a tough
Oh, so yeah, the scans.. this is not intended to be a
comprehensive collection of Nintendo ads. There are a few places around with
more and better scans than these. These are just whatever I happened to
stumble across in magazines I didn't mind cutting up. I'm sure I'll add to
this page someday or whatever. As the name implies, these are from magazines
published in 1988-1989. Yeah, some of these games came out before or after
then so hold back on the correction emails.
This was a great time to own an
NES, new games were pouring out like crazy. Of course this meant plenty of
duds too, "shovelware" I hear it called today. These ads tend to be these
b-to-d-list games, I suppose good ones didn't need to advertise. Don't let
these ads paint a false picture, this was the peak of the 8-bit era.
The images you see are thumbnails, click for the full-size versions which
are ~1100x1500. I know you're going to post these on a message board or
something. Please do me a favor and link to this page, not the actual images
Here are ads for individual games.. heavy on artwork, light on screenshots:
The movie Rambo was, um, a work of, um, cinematic genius. The storyline
was, um, not at all preposterous and the acting was, um, Oscar-worthy.
It should, um, be held in the same regard as, um... Ah, screw it, time for plan b).
Rambo was awful in every measurable way. I didn't see the latest installment because I was
busy pulling out all my toenails. I laughed like a banshee when I read that Sylvester Stallone was busted with human growth hormone, laughed like a banshee.
OK, with that out of my system I can go back to plan c) - not caring (or really thinking) about the comments or whether people love or hate them.
Speaking of not caring, I don't really care about Guerilla War. As far
as I can tell, it's a game celebrating the Cuban revolution. How's that
working out for them? I suppose if internet access wasn't heavily
restricted someone from there could read this and send me an email to let me know.
Alright the first good game of the lot. Bubble Bobble was definitely a classic of this era.
It's a pretty addictive game that spawned many sequels of varying
Another Bubble Bobble ad, this time without the distraction of the inferior games along the bottom.
Let's see this was 1988. John Elway must have just won the Super Bowl right? I assume the MVP of the Super Bowl that year would be the one getting all the sweet video game endorsements, especially if the game was a blowout. What's that you say? That's not the case? Huh, I wonder why.
I'm a tad curious about the VHS board game advertised along side the NES
I prefer the version of the ad without Hulk Hogan's package.
WCW never received much respect from game companies until the Monday Night War era.
At this point WCW was the name of a TV show that aired NWA matches which was confusing until they split off.
Poor NWA, at the time of this writing they've been diminished to hosting shows at elementary schools and roller rinks.
I probably shouldn't bother commenting on the rest of these. I predict
this will be the only reason anyone visits this page. Yeah, it's Fabio
modeling for Ironsword, get over it.
Super Dodge Ball was something of a sleeper hit of the era. The flicker
was practically unbearable at times, but it still managed to be a fun
Double Dragon II wasn't half-bad. Better than the original, third, and fifth
Rad Racer II ad - I wish I could get a set of those bedsheets.
I was a fan of the Kemco-Seika games yet somehow totally missed this
game. Looks like it's worth a try.
Shadowgate is one of my
absolute favorite NES games, decent enough ad too.
Cobra Command was basically a rip-off of Choplifter only scrolling in
the opposite direction.
I know Fester's Quest has been bashed a bit but I thought it was good at
the time. Maybe I was so desperate for a Blaster Master sequel that I'd
take something that just imitated one aspect of the game play.
I bet they only paid this kid once.
Hydlide, the poor man's Ys.
The poor man's version of a Hydlide ad.
Casino Kid was an under-appreciated game. It managed to wrap poker &
blackjack into an adventure game, sort of. Definitely one of the games
from this time worth collecting. I always thought Sofel was a small game
company that went out of business. Nope. Turns out it's one of those
Japanese companies that dabbles in a variety of industries. RFID
technology is their main thing now.
Willow was alright, moderate Zelda rip-off but added some new elements.
Not a top 10 NES game, but worth trying.
"The King of Comical Fighting" - must have been marketing's
way to admit that the game sucked. I was surprised to find that Culture
Brain did not go out of business and is still producing awful games to
Seicross was something like Bump 'n Jump meets a crappy shooter. I
believe this would qualify as "shovelware".
This was a good enough home version given the capabilities of the NES.
Sky Shark was indistinguishable from a number of other NES shooters. I
probably couldn't tell the difference between it and Tiger Heli for
example (OK, one is a plane and the other a helicopter but you get the
Man, this game makes you sick of pressing the up arrow real fast. For some
reason they felt the need to accurately simulate gravity making this
game extraordinarily difficult.
For the record, I own several GTA games and a Sega Master System. I can
understand people enjoying soccer too. I didn't grow-up around it so it
so it's not my thing but I totally get that it has tons of fans. Aphex
Twin though? The first time I heard them I thought I was
listening to someone getting a root canal. Speaking of root canals,
here's a game that's almost that much fun.
Easily the most blatant Castlevania knock-off ever.
Sign of a bad game - no screenshots in the ad. This is also the only
black guy in any of these ads, I'm just saying.
Another ad without screenshots, if you've played Clash at Demonhead
you'd understand why.
No screens for Dig Dug II either. This wasn't a completely terrible
game, reminds me of Splash Lake a bit, that's probably the best thing
going for it. It was "Dig Dug" in name only. The much later
Dig Dug arcade remake was true to the original.
Tecmo World Wrestling is the first game I recall that had a live
Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight - source of so much brand confusion.
Would someone mind trying to send in for the free poster offer in this ad and let me know what happens?
I almost missed this one because I thought it was an ad for the comic book.
Is Othello out for the Wii yet? Try to act surprised when it is.
The first time I ever heard of this game was when I saw this ad.
I'm too lazy to check if it had a really small distribution or something.
The perspective on it looks interesting so I'd like to at least try it someday.
I can not bring myself to find a white martial artist intimidating.
Yes, I'm sure this dude could kick my tail and everything but he still looks comical.
I can't do better than the Angry Video Game Nerd on these two so I won't even bother trying.
OK, let's end this section on a positive note.. Bionic Commando was a
darn fine game with some innovate game play. That new remake looks like
a waste of time though. If I really want to play Halo I'll just, you
know, play Halo.
Here are some ads from companies promoting several games together:
Because I'm a huge TG-16 fan I always look back fondly at Hudson Soft
games. They developed some of the best TG-16 games, heck, they were some
of the best games for any platform. Their NES games were just alright
though, I'd give them a B- grade
Their entry into the controller market earns a solid D+ on the other
Tecmo was a pretty major publisher at the time, these three titles
helping them get their brand off to a good start.
Adventure of Lolo wasn't exactly mainstream but has its fans out there.
I admit it, I got conned into buying the Bandai controller advertised
here. The "programmable memory" sounded way more impressive
than it actually was.
Look at that, an ad for the unreleased game Wild Boys. Judging by the
artwork, we should be thankful it never came out, very thankful.
A Tengen ad featuring the now highly collectible version of Tetris.
It's good to see that Space Ace can still find work.
What an incredible collection of miserable games. It never occurred to me
before that they were all from the same publisher.
These three games were all pretty good but not especially popular. Even
though Broderbund was a PC & Apple software powerhouse, these NES
games were just translations of Japanese games by three different
How the &%$# did these guys end up buying Sega?
Nice rip-off of the Frosted Mini-Wheats commecials. My memory isn't
perfect, but I don't think "Come out of the closet" meant the
same thing in 1988 that it does today.
If you think there are a lot of second-rate controllers and accessories out
today, you have no idea what it was like back in the NES days:
You know what I miss about the 80s? Neon colors and suction cups.
The kid in this ad looks about as badass as the guys in Fall Out Boy.
It would be something like another 15 years until good wireless controllers were available. All these early ones were universally terrible.
I was about to make fun of their clothes but then remembered that the
preppy look was popular back then. If this was made four years later I
have no doubt they'd be wearing flannel.
I think. I will. Write my comments. In the same style. As whoever wrote
According to this ad, two-player games are some kind of brand new
concept. It's a shame that the Atari 2600 came with that one-player
pack-in game Combat. Oh wait... And another thing, always spell check
What's the difference between the Freedom Stick and the Freedom Stick
II? Am I totally immature if I laugh every time I read the phrase
"extra long cord"?
My favorite part of this ad is reading the names of all the stores this
product is available at: Toys by Roy, Electron Nick's, Bob's Video
Movie, Jed's Video Inc., Electro Fantasy, Ippy's #2.
I'd make fun of the LaserScope but honestly is it really any worse than the bulky plastic accessories available today?
The Power Glove didn't actually come out until 1990, or at least that's
what this ad implies. I may have to work on this theory some more but I
think the Power Glove was when the NES jumped the shark. Sure, several
great games came out after the Power Glove, but it was the first sign
that the NES wasn't a serious competitor to the 16-bit systems.
Let's wrap things up with a few ads for stores:
There was a "Child World" store at my local mall and I think
that was owned by the now-defunct Lionel.
Toys "R" Us was the biggest force behind game sales in 1988 as
I recall. There were Electronics Boutiques and Babbages but they carried
more PC software back then. As evidenced by the Suncom ad, local
electronics stores were still around. There was Sears
and K-Mart of course but Toys "R" Us was the most reliable
place to find games in stock.
Ah yes, back in the 80s the idea of trading-in a game at a store was
unheard of. Maybe some local shops did it but none of the major chains.
So you'd have to resort to weird mail-in systems like this..
..or like this. As you can see, the "we buy" vs. "we sell
used" ratio wasn't any better when it was a niche market.