Every Nintendo game pack was stuffed with advertising. Often, these advertisements were disguised as posters to hang on your wall. I hung them proudly and out of necessity. For a few years in my childhood, we lived in a two bedroom house, so I had to share a room with my sister. We divided the room by staking out imaginary boundaries, claiming wall space with our posters.
I wallpapered my side of the room with the video game advertisements. She wasn’t allowed a step past the border of the Bart vs Space Mutants poster–then she was in enemy territory.
My god, what a terrible game, but what a beautiful poster. I had impeccable taste in what I hung on my side, including the poster of Michael Jackson and a panther, right above my bed.
Then there was my sister’s side, which was dominated by a hideous Troll Kids poster. They were a rainbow-haired army of the little dolls, staring soullessly down on my bed from the wall. Everyday, I demanded she take it down, claiming it freaked me out, but the more I hated it, the more she loved it. If that weren’t enough, she also had about 16 of these bastard dolls littering her bed and desk.
It was war. Nintendo’s advertisements saved my life. In dark times, I gazed at them as though from my foxhole, planning the games I would rent from the video store one day–my only escape from the daily horrors of battle. Troll Kids is hell.
One side of the poster was generally the game’s box art, while the other side advertised other games by the developer.
I imagined the days when I would have my own room–the “Cool Room”. I would paint two of the walls neon green and the other two pitch black, alternating. Eventually we moved and I did get my own room, but I was forced to settle for four walls of the same color, a non-offensive hue of blue-green. My vision for The Cool Room was shot down, but it lives on. I can plan the Cool Room for the baby’s room one day.
There’s still a special place in my heart for bright, neon colors. Neon was the aesthetic of our lives. These were the kids who wore neon:
And jean jackets, man. But why is the dog as much invested in the magazine’s tips as everyone else? Where did that dog even come from? Why is there a disembodied dog’s head in this picture? Is it growing out of that young man’s shoulder? Everyone else is shitting themselves over the magazine, but the dog appears nonplussed. What does the dog know? What does he know?
Nintendo Power. These days Nintendo Power operates more like a People Magazine with video game characters instead of celebrities, but back in the early 90s, before the days of the internet, this was your go-to guide. And Nintendo advertised it to death; in fact they still do. My pulse quickened and my heart swelled when I opened my first Wii game to find an insert to subscribe to Nintendo magazine. Or it could have been the Chipotle burrito I ate that day.
Here are some vintage Power ads–
I wish I had some special memories of Nintendo Power, but I don’t think I even owned a single copy. The three dollar price tag was much better spent on chips and Hostess cakes, or maybe a pack of Micro Machines. And I wasn’t that interested in actually beating the games. Most games I played over and over to the same level where I would die each time, and then I would put another game in. I’ve been playing it now for 20 years, and I still can’t get past the 2nd level of Burgertime.
One more thing I’m amused by in this old video game stuff is the Tetris box. Tetris was a game I never played on the NES until this year. I played it on computers, on calculators, on LED games, online, and on my cell phone, but somehow, I never played the real one. I love how the box refers to the game as “relentless”, not once but twice.
“The relentless building block video puzzle.”
…building blocks drop “relentlessly“…
Perhaps the Nintendo’s version was relentless, but the version on my graphing calculator sure wasn’t.