Nintendo Ads


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 this anyway.

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 upset someone

c) Continue my policy of not caring, dating back to when I started this site in 2000

I gotta admit, it's a tough decision.

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 themselves.


Here are ads for individual games.. heavy on artwork, light on screenshots:

Rambo for NES Ad

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.

Guerrilla War for NES Ad

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.

Bubble Bobble for NES Ad

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 quality.

Bubble Bobble for NES Ad

Another Bubble Bobble ad, this time without the distraction of the inferior games along the bottom.

John Elway Football for NES Ad

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.

WrestleMania for NES Ad

I'm a tad curious about the VHS board game advertised along side the NES WrestleMania game.

WrestleMania for NES Ad

I prefer the version of the ad without Hulk Hogan's package.

WCW for NES Ad

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.

Ironsword for NES Ad

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 for NES Ad

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 game.

Double Dragon for NES Ad

Double Dragon II wasn't half-bad. Better than the original, third, and fifth installments.

Rad Racer II for NES Ad

Rad Racer II ad - I wish I could get a set of those bedsheets.

Rescue the Embassy Mission for NES Ad

I was a fan of the Kemco-Seika games yet somehow totally missed this game. Looks like it's worth a try.

Shadowgate for NES Ad

Shadowgate is one of my absolute favorite NES games, decent enough ad too.

Cobra Command for NES Ad

Cobra Command was basically a rip-off of Choplifter only scrolling in the opposite direction.

Festers Quest for NES Ad

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.

Platoon for NES Ad

I bet they only paid this kid once.

Hydlide for NES Ad

Hydlide, the poor man's Ys.

Hydlide for NES Ad

The poor man's version of a Hydlide ad.

Casino Kid for NES 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 for NES Ad

Willow was alright, moderate Zelda rip-off but added some new elements. Not a top 10 NES game, but worth trying.

Kung-Fu Heroes for NES Ad

"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 this day.

Seicross for NES Ad

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 for NES Ad

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 point).

Cybernoid for NES Ad

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.

Flying Dragon for NES Ad

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.

8 Eyes for NES Ad

Easily the most blatant Castlevania knock-off ever.

All Pro Basketball for NES Ad

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.

Clash at Demonhead for NES Ad

Another ad without screenshots, if you've played Clash at Demonhead you'd understand why.

Dig Dug II for NES Ad

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 Wrestling for NES Ad

Tecmo World Wrestling is the first game I recall that had a live commentator.

Street Fighter 2010 for NES Ad

Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight - source of so much brand confusion.

Wrath of the Black Manta for NES Ad

Would someone mind trying to send in for the free poster offer in this ad and let me know what happens?

Punisher for NES Ad

I almost missed this one because I thought it was an ad for the comic book.

Othello for NES Ad

Is Othello out for the Wii yet? Try to act surprised when it is.

Galaxy 5000 for NES Ad

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.

Target Renegade for NES Ad

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.

Back to the Future II and III for NES Ad

I can't do better than the Angry Video Game Nerd on these two so I won't even bother trying.

Bionic Commando for NES Ad

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:

Hudson Ad

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 overall.

Hudson Joycard Ad

Their entry into the controller market earns a solid D+ on the other hand.

Tecmo Ad

Tecmo was a pretty major publisher at the time, these three titles helping them get their brand off to a good start.

Hal Ad

Adventure of Lolo wasn't exactly mainstream but has its fans out there.

Bandai Ad

I admit it, I got conned into buying the Bandai controller advertised here. The "programmable memory" sounded way more impressive than it actually was.

Bandai Ad

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.

Tengen Ad

A Tengen ad featuring the now highly collectible version of Tetris.

Tengen Ad

It's good to see that Space Ace can still find work.

Enteractive Ad

What an incredible collection of miserable games. It never occurred to me before that they were all from the same publisher.

Broderbund Ad

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 publishers.

Sammy Ad

How the &%$# did these guys end up buying Sega?

Kemco Ad

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:

Beeshu Ad

You know what I miss about the 80s? Neon colors and suction cups.

Quickshot Ad

The kid in this ad looks about as badass as the guys in Fall Out Boy.

Acclaim Ad

It would be something like another 15 years until good wireless controllers were available. All these early ones were universally terrible.

Acclaim Double Player Ad

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.

Freedom Stick Ad

I think. I will. Write my comments. In the same style. As whoever wrote this ad.

Camerica Ad

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 your ads.

Camerica Ad

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"?

Suncom Ad

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.

Laserscope Ad

I'd make fun of the LaserScope but honestly is it really any worse than the bulky plastic accessories available today?

Power Glove Ad

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:

Lionel Ad

There was a "Child World" store at my local mall and I think that was owned by the now-defunct Lionel.

Toys r Us Ad

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.

Great American Game Club

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..

Play It Again

..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.