The Weird World Of Old Video Game Ads

The+strange+effect+in+the+Mental+Wealth+commercial+was+done+with+90%27s+CGI+and+facial+tracing.+Really+impressive%2C+if+not+off+putting.+

Brandon Ramirez / El Paisano Media

The strange effect in the Mental Wealth commercial was done with 90’s CGI and facial tracing. Really impressive, if not off putting.

In the 90’s and 00’s, video games were building to the world-encompassing business we know now. Back then, things were different. The shift of the console wars had set Sony and Microsoft on a collision course. Technology was advancing fast, and had weird shelf lives. The Internet also started to play a part, giving people a way to take a side. The growth of the games industry during this era was unprecedented, and the media started to show it. 

Commercials

The commercials of the 90’s were pulpy and intense. Rob Liefeld was writing comics, Wolverine was wider and buffer than ever, and video games were in your face. Cartoons were punctuated with playful competition between Sony, Nintendo, and Sega. Loud and quick ads told about the power the player had. You! Yes, you! The power is in your hands! Power was a huge dynamic during this time, echoing in conversations today. But, back then the power of the machine and the witty attitude of the character was the focus of ads.

But things were already starting to get weird. Enter, Mental Wealth. The strangest ad I could find from this era. Mental Wealth was a Playstation ad from 1999. It featured a slim young woman with a strangely large head and thick Scottish accent waxing philosophic about using games to be the “human in question” in the human endeavour. All while sitting in what appears to be a concrete walled basement. But the weird was also in the consoles. 

Consoles

As Y2K came and went, the future was upon us. Microsoft took this idea to heart. The original Xbox was all about advancement, in tech and identity. The new kids on the block, and first to the next gen, Xbox pushed the power of the system through sci-fi inspired graphics. Hidden in the Matrix green interface was something pretty strange though. Imagine, being 10, up late on a weekend, playing games in the dark. Then, suddenly, after being on the menu for a bit, you hear strange sounds coming from your speakers. Alien voices yakking at you, sending you straight to your parents room. Xbox was hiding a little Easter egg in their menu, if it was on long enough highly synthesized voices would play. Apparently to enhance the “super advanced alien tech” theme of the Xbox. 

Before Xbox was making kids scared of UFOs, Playstation was making them fear the abyss. The original Playstation had a start up so iconic and frightening that it’s still talked about today. But the error screen had something even creepier. The start up was loud and dramatic, but the error screen music was terrifying. Threatening strings accompanied a red screen, with a song titled fearful harmony. 

Before My Time

I was born in 99’, so much of the really weird stuff I didn’t see first hand. But I still feel super attached to it. Once I got online, the web was inundated with wild stories of Tails Dolls coming to life, in-game radios predicting the future, and supposed subluminals. But the stuff that was proven, that was real, was stuff I was somewhat related with. I grew up with PS2, and played hours of original Playstation games. I had an Xbox, and got to see all the weird PS3 commercials. Nostalgia is a strange thing, and like Stranger Things showed us, we can feel it for times that weren’t ours. I wonder now, if the weirdness of this era will ever reach the forefront of pop culture like the 80’s did.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •