The best marketing tactic... EVER?
Star Fox 64 3D is upon us, and I have been feeling very nostalgic about the original Star Fox 64. It was such a great game that it marked my Nintendo fandom forever. Part of that legacy comes in the form of a Nintendo Power promo video, which may be the hammiest piece of marketing ever produced.
The VHS cover looks normal enough, with promotional artwork of the game. When I first received this tape in 1997, I was under the impression that it was going to be just video footage of the game. Note that back in the day I didn't have a computer, so being able to see video game footage before the game was released was a major thing for me. I popped the videotape in, and boy, was I taken away.
The reason why is that rather than going through the game and its features, the tape actually tells a story. A Sony representative and a Sega representative kidnap a Nintendo employee and force him to reveal the details about Star Fox 64. If you want further proof of how intense the console wars were back in the day, look no further than this tape.
In a way, Nintendo was justified in presenting Sega and Sony in the worst way possible. A year prior, Sega had done a Nights ad where they toss an N64 and shoot it with a rifle. Sony did the infamous Crash Bandicoot commercials where a man wearing a Crash suit stood in front of the Nintendo building and taunted them. So, Nintendo had the right to be as nasty as they wanted to be, and did they use that right to the fullest!
The Sony guy is EXTREMELY cocky, which may be a representation of how Sony had entered the video game market doing things their way and bragging about it. The Sega guy was a big, dumb lug. Down the line, Sega would drop out of the hardware business due to poor decisions, so Nintendo may have been indirectly telling the future with their interpretation of Sega.
The Nintendo guy is no saint. In fact, he may come off as being the worst of the three. He is very handsome and knows it, and isn't afraid of flaunting his attitude. Considering the situation he was placed in, he may have been right in fighting fire with fire, but it was surreal that Nintendo was represented in such a way. It doesn't help that when you watch this video, realizing how Nintendo struggled through the N64 and GameCube eras, it feels odd for the Nintendo guy to have that attitude.
The whole tape is cheesy as all hell. Nowadays, I am used to internet videos where it is more about the hammy acting than about the actual information, but seeing this back in the day was weird. The Sega and Sony guys torture a Mario doll in order to get info out of the Nintendo guy. Then they kidnap Bob, a scientist of sorts, in order to learn about the Rumble Pak (in the story, this is supposed to be a secret, which is silly since Star Fox 64 pretty much made force feedback a norm in the industry).
The video ends with a montage of the upcoming N64 games, including footage of the then very early Zelda 64, and the Nintendo guys laugh in the faces of the Sony and Sega guys (Again, silly since Sega did indeed go under while Sony dominated the market for two generations of gaming.)
It wouldn't be the last time Nintendo created a cheesy promo video for their upcoming games. Months later they released the Diddy Kong Racing video. It was silly, but not as nasty as the Star Fox 64 video.
The spirit of these videos exist in a way in the Nintendo Channel. The venomous rivalry and over the top silliness are gone, but they are still quite hammy in their presentation (Dark Gary, anyone?). But nothing will ever come close to how epic the Star Fox 64 video was, and it remains one of my most cherished gaming treasures.
If you ever missed it, here it is in its full nasty cheese glory!