Remember the 3DO? Or the Power Glove? It's easy to forget that the lineage of today's Playstations and Xboxes is filled with so many odd mutants never fit for mass consumption. Here's a look into the awkward, gawky past.
Watching these commercials takes me back to a time when we all salivated over the latest and greatest bitrate, and playing video games was a predominantly male pastime (notice the prevalence of wailing guitar solos and macho voiceovers). It's a look into our collective unconscious - God, some of these commercials are so lame! I must have been so dorky! I certainly remember going to see the Nintendo movie "The Wizard" back in 80's, which was basically a long commercial for Super Mario Bros. 3 and the Power Glove. Remember how Lucas loved the Power Glove because it was "so bad", and how stoked we all were to buy it after that scene? Man, was that disappointing when we all got it and discovered that it basically didn't work.
In weird peripherals, Nintendo clearly leads the way. ROB the robot was genuinely useless, though I'm sure he helped to sell systems. I couldn't find a commercial for it, but does anyone remember the U-Force? It allowed you to control your NES using "hands-free" technology, and like most unnecessary peripherals, it impeded rather than enhanced your ability to play the game.
Some of these systems seemed doomed from the start. Remember how the 3DO was $700? And that was back in 1993! Or how about the horrible litany of dinner plate sized controllers? I'm looking at you, Atari Jaguar, Sega Dreamcast and original X-Box. Then there was the Virtual Boy, the literal and figurative redheaded stepchild of the Nintendo consoles (the graphics were rendered in all red lines). Other consoles, like the Phillips CDi, were doomed by an identity crisis - and a really creepy commercial. What is this generic entertainment machine that you want me to buy? Am I supposed to watch movies on this thing? (Also deserving an honorable mention in this category is the Apple Pippin, a game console so obscure that I couldn't even find a commercial for it, but that suffered the same fate from being one of those ill-advised multi-purpose home entertainment consoles that did everything poorly.)
Most of all, watching these commercials makes me appreciate how far video games have migrated from the mancave into the mainstream. Now, instead of using video games to escape from the world, it's something we use to connect and socialize (and maybe even get laid!). Thank you, amazing Guitar Hero skills.
Finally, if you have to watch just one of these commercials, check out the one for the Sega Saturn. It has a few moments that are genuinely hilarious.
Atari Jaguar - Commercial #1
Atari Jaguar - Commercial #2
Turbo Grafx16 - Commercial #1
Turbo Grafx16 - Commercial #2
Neo Geo Pocket
The Power Glove
The Power Glove - as featured in the movie The Wizard
The Power Pad
Sega Scope 3D
Nintendo ROB the Robot