New Nintendo 3DS/Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (Japan)
This silly Japanese ad popped up around mid-2014, starring Japanese model/singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and her powers of bestowing fabulous clothing and makeovers onto Nintendo characters. There’s Bowser with glasses, Toon Link with a top hat, Isabelle with a cute, puffy dress, and even Samus gets some spots for her Gravity Armor. All eye-catching fashion, but these characters weren’t getting permanent redesigns; actually, their new outfits were based on a new wave of 3DS faceplates launching across Japan at the time.
Needless to say, it was a successful ad campaign thanks to its eye-catching ambition. Yes, it’s a weird concept, but a fun one that makes us want to analyze every character’s makeover. I’ll be honest in admitting not every one of them works — Magical Girl Kirby and Monster’s Inc. Donkey Kong have never ceased in unsettling me — but I’m rather charmed by Bowser’s glasses and Yoshi’s new bow. With how long it took for these faceplates to launch in America, I’m actually a little saddened we didn’t get our own variant of this commercial!
By the way, speaking of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, what exactly is going on in this otherwise innocent Animal Crossing: New Leaf commercial? Sure hope that’s Tom Nook’s flab you’re grabbing there, Ms. Kyary!
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Japan)
Yes, even Japan got in on some Zelda rap action, going all out with an elaborate dance number, sets and costumes for Zelda: Triforce of the Gods! (Or A Link to the Past, as we call it in America) From the very first “deru deru” (“it’s out, it’s out”), we’re treated to an infectious beat as Link dance-battles the likes of witches, Gibdos and Ganon himself as he rescues Zelda. Actually, Link’s technically a she here, since he’s played by a young female actor.
What makes this commercial so fascinating is that despite being absolutely bizarre, it actually works. Unlike the other commercials here that don’t accurately portray their subjects, it actually grabs our attention by remembering to utilize the original context all the while framing it in an unusual yet entertaining premise. How can you not be instantly hooked? It’s not tasteless, doesn’t gross us out or fly over or heads with edgy symbolism: it’s just fascinating and fun to watch. You won’t be dancing in the Super Nintendo Zelda, but the commercial’s fun enough that you want to play it anyway; in fact, you might find yourself wishing you could see the commercial again!
Apparently, it’s enough of a classic in Japan that they produced a new rap for the 3DS sequel’s commercial. Yup, that’s right: there’s actually four Zelda raps in all!
(By the way, ever wanted to know the behind-the-scenes choreography and casting? Well, here ya go.)
Whatever This NES Commercial Is Supposed To Be (America)
For my final pick, I’ve decided to send this article off with a piece of nightmare fuel. Yes, what you’re witnessing are 80’s attempts at CGI models of Bowser, Duck Hunt Dog, Lakitu, Gyromite‘s Smick and Some Guy speaking in creepy synthesized voices as they repeatedly assert “you cannot beat us.” Personally, I’m most spooked by the slowed-down Super Mario Bros. music, but I think ol’ Duck Hunt Dog is in the running for the scariest voice.
With 80’s computer technology being what it was, I can admit maybe kids walked away from this commercial thinking it looked pretty cool. Obviously, that’s not the case now, and while the slogan is at least clear (“You cannot beat us” is a challenge directed towards the viewer), that they constantly put us down only adds to our petrified fear. The synth voices alone are enough to send even me, a grown man, retreating into fetal position. Let us be grateful such CGI abominations are a rarity in this day and age!
And that wraps up my list! Did you notice how many Mario-related commercials made the cut? That was actually a complete coincidence; somehow in my scavenging through dozens of Nintendo commercials, Mario and Co. always stuck out like a sore thumb. Hey, it’s not my fault Nintendo’s advertisers liked to get weird with their mascot…
Did any of your favorite weird Nintendo commercials miss the cut? Sound off in the comments below!