Getting people to buy a game or console is difficult. Especially in the early days of the gaming, companies were stuck vying for the attention of gamers and needed to find ways to stand out. That lead to some very creative commercials and advertisements—and some that were completely bonkers.
From downright disturbing to hilariously bizarre, these video game commercials are shining examples of what happens when marketing departments ditch a straightforward approach and try to get creative. Some of these companies were able to recover from their disasters and others weren’t so lucky, but in every case we were the real winners. But which of these video game commercials is truly the wackiest?
Mister Mosquito is a bizarre game all on its own, so it’s only right that the game’s marketing was just as wacky. Released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2 and published by Sony, gamers play as a mosquito who must fly around a Japanese household sucking the blood from members of the family without getting noticed. The game is littered with innuendo, and this Japanese commercial goes all in one that idea too.
The commercial starts off pretty normal with a Japanese couple out at a fancy restaurant, but things get weird real fast when the woman swats a mosquito on her arm. Suddenly the man pulls out a fake mosquito nose, the woman invites him to suck on her leg, the man accepts the invitation, and the woman swats him away.
This is supposed to make you want to buy Mister Mosquito, but unless you have a very specific fetish, it's doubtful you'd be interested.
An executive at Sony must have been going through some tough times when this 2006 ad for the PlayStation 3 was greenlit. That or the marketing department thought it was advertising a horror game and not the PlayStation 3 itself. Either way, this commercial, the start of a multi-million dollar ad campaign for Sony’s console, has lived on as one of the most disturbing video game commercials ever.
If Sony was trying to creep out potential customers, a creepy doll with a Pennywise-like laugh and hellfire eyes checks every box on the “Oh god, kill it with fire!” checklist.
The Gameboy Micro is a largely forgotten chapter in Nintendo’s history of handheld consoles, and with commercials like this it’s easy to see why. Nintendo is known for making bizarre choices—this isn’t the only entry on this list to feature the company’s wacky commercials—and this is one of their weirdest.
The message of the 2005 commercial is clear: You won’t be able to peel yourself away from the Gameboy Micro. Unfortunately the way Nintendo chose to convey that message is far from clear and ends with a mouse humping a Gameboy Micro. It's a bizarre look for the Disney of video games.
This commercial drips with the kind of manufactured anti-establishment, “screw the man” vibe that was concocted in a corporate boardroom. The marketing folks take a couple of tame potshots at the concept of a corporate executive whose job is “to stop exciting things from happening” right before the narrator, adopting his best XTREME voice, yells, “Pole Position” to burst the family’s suburban bubble.
It’s all cringeworthy, but this commercial for the Pole Position racing game on the Atari 2600 lands on this for what comes next. A hand from heaven reaches down and rips the family’s car from the ground, tossing them out and into race cars. There’s bizarre imagery, lots of shouting, and hectic camera work that makes it seem like the DP was on speed. The special effects are also laughable (the cuts between the family screaming as they’re lifted into the air and someone lifting a model car are incredible), and all the acting is over the top as well.
In other words, it’s a commercial from the ‘80s.