Top 10 WORST Nintendo Commercials of All Time
VOICE OVER: Dave Thibault
WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
Not everything Nintendo touches turns to gold. For this list, we're looking at all the bizarre, off-putting, or offensive ads Nintendo has released over their years as a video game company. Our countdown includes the ES You Cannot Beat Us Commercial, the “Hey You, Pikachu!” Commercial, the Ring Fit Commercial, and more! Which of these Nintendo commercials made YOU cringe the most? Let us know in the comments!
Not everything this company touches turns to gold. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our top picks for the Top 10 Worst Nintendo Commercials.
For this list, we’re looking at all the bizarre, off-putting, or offensive ads Nintendo has released over their years as a video game company.
#10: Nintendo 64 Cross-dressing Commercial
The Nintendo 64 had some phenomenal titles in its library but you wouldn’t know it while watching this ad. It begins innocently enough with a father’s voiceover explaining that family and happiness are more important than money. But it takes a turn when you see a young boy has discovered his father’s cross-dressing secret. The ad’s message is essentially, “Find out your parents’ secrets and exploit them for our awesome games, kids!” And it’s delivered by a grossly, overenthusiastic announcer telling you how great the N64’s games are. There isn’t even any footage of the games; just blackmail played up for weird comedy, and it leaves us feeling a little dirty.
#9: Ring Fit Commercial
Over the years, Nintendo has released more peripherals than we can count. Some have been hits (Wii Fit) while others have been misses (Power Glove). And while the Switch’s Ring Fit peripheral seems to be a hit, its initial ad had many feeling wary. The commercial shows groups of people from around the world having fun with the Ring. However, it never shows what they’re playing. It’s just bunch of people running and stretching while their friends and family yell at them. The game, “Ring Fit Adventure,” was revealed soon after with another trailer, which begs the question… why not just reveal them both together? Maybe they were trying to build anticipation by teasing the controller first, but if so, the strategy fell flat.
#8: ”New Super Mario Bros. U” Wii U Bundle Holiday Commercial
The Wii U struggled for most, if not all, of its lifespan. And ads like these certainly didn’t help matters. This one focuses on two siblings giving a presentation to their parents on why they should get a Wii U. Their argument, which is also Nintendo’s here, is that it’ll increase family time. Yeah that may have made sense with the Wii, but it can’t work twice. Cringy acting -on top of the fact that no family acts like this- makes for a pretty out-of-touch ad. Also, the bundle includes “New Super Mario Bros. U,” while the ad shows “Super Mario 3D World” which is two completely different games. Thankfully, the ad is only 30 seconds long.
#7: “Dr. Mario” Witch Doctor Commercial
Nintendo is company known for playing it safe with its branding, but they’re not without their own racially and culturally insensitive missteps. “Dr. Mario” was Nintendo’s way of mimicking the success of “Tetris” with the added attraction of their chief mascot. Why they didn’t just focus on the gameplay in this commercial is beyond us. It shows a teen competing against a witch doctor stereotype in “Dr. Mario” for the Game Boy. And it ends with the teen’s head being shrunken when he wins. First of all… witch doctors were healers, not witches themselves. This racist caricature is by far the worst aspect, but the overacting while playing the Game Boy certainly doesn’t help.
#6: “Hey You, Pikachu!” Commercial
“Pokémon” captured the imagination of kids around the world with its exciting creatures. The N64 spin off, “Hey You, Pikachu!,”did not. But we really should’ve known given the mercilessly 3-minute long ad Nintendo released. Instead of letting the game speak for itself, Nintendo hired this painfully overenthusiastic kid to sell us on the game. The gameplay is rather slow-paced, but the actor speaks incredibly fast, keeping pace with the similarly mismatched music. Plus, he’s constantly going on about how his best friend Pikachu is the light of his life, which just makes us feel a little sad and embarrassed for him. Nintendo was clearly trying to sell their fanbase on a game that simply wasn’t for them, and the advertising comes across as desperate.
#5: “Yoshi’s Island” Restaurant Commercial
“Yoshi’s Island” unfortunately released while the SNES was on its way out and just a month after the launch of Sony’s PlayStation, meaning that they were already fighting an uphill battle. But this ad did NOT help. Their message was that the game was packed with content that it was practically bursting. And they chose to show illustrate this with a man overeating in a restaurant, complete with gross sound effects. If that wasn’t bad enough, it ends with him literally exploding over the other patrons. How Nintendo thought this ad would make anyone want to run out and pick up a copy is absurd. “Yoshi’s Island” is a classic but this makes us gag.
#4: Game Boy Micro Commercial
Nintendo has never been the edgy company. But that hasn’t stopped them from occasionally trying. A year after the DS was released (and likely to get a little more juice from the Game Boy line), Nintendo released the Game Boy Micro: an even smaller version of the Game Boy Advance. And to show how addictive this little console could be, they chose to show a mouse trying to mate with it. Yes, really. When placed in a maze with cheese and the console, the mouse goes for the console. Nintendo could’ve used CGI to have it turn the console on and play. That would’ve been cute and gotten the message across. But no. Mouse humping. Why Nintendo? Just…why?
#3: Nintendo 3DS Aisle 3 Commercial
The 3DS had a lot of great selling points, and Nintendo tried to get this across in this particular ad. Did they do this by actually showing the features? Obviously not or it wouldn’t be on this list! Several customers come into a store looking for something only to be told to go to Aisle 3 by the associate. But he acts differently towards each customer and it comes off as awkward and tone-deaf, especially when he tries to fist bump the black customer. He even tries to impress the pretty girl only to leave her behind when he finds out she has a boyfriend. What a tool. Rarely has a character in a Nintendo ad been this off-putting.
#2: Grill-Off With Ultra Hand! Commercial
Setting aside the fact that this is an ad for a mediocre WiiWare game exclusive to Club Nintendo members (i.e., a game that didn’t really require an ad), this is one of the weirdest commercials Nintendo has ever produced. And that’s saying something. In three minutes, we only actually see a few fleeting glimpses of the game itself. The rest is comprised of a family barbecue that’s interrupted by a bizarre talk show host, a hippy in space, a T-Rex, and a woman in a meat costume - all shot with weird green screen. What is happening!? It’s meant to be funny, but it’s just strange. If this was meant to convince people to sign up for Club Nintendo, we’d say they missed the mark.
#1: NES You Cannot Beat Us Commercial
There’s weird, there’s creepy, and then there’s this abomination. The concept is simple: it’s a challenge issued to all players to try and conquer Nintendo’s games. The execution, however, is an assault on your hearing and eyesight. The old, computerized graphics age more poorly with each passing year. And the voice of what is clearly an evil robot, accompanied by the Super Mario Bros’ Castle Theme, stabs you in the eardrums via soundwaves. Also, the message of “You Cannot Beat Us” makes Nintendo sound like some totalitarian regime. The whole thing is grating and disturbing, which is, if nothing else, an impressive combination to pull off. But NES games were pure fun packed into cartridges, and this ad is unbecoming of Nintendo’s classic console.