Nintendo Time Capsule: 1997-2001

Nintendo is known for producing unintentionally hilarious promotional videos. In the mid-to-late ‘90s the company pumped out at least one VHS tape a year, each focusing on whatever the newest, greatest release happened to be. Some have become quite famous since then, sprouting all over YouTube and message boards across the net.

Above: Donkey Propakonga Country from 1994

Then, from roughly 1997 to 2001, Nintendo operated kiosks inside of retail chains like Toys “R” Us. Each one came loaded with a video CD player (not DVD, mind) that contained dozens of 30 second previews, recent commercials and custom-made videos for N64 and Game Boy Color games, all accessed by a touchpad. So for example, if you pushed “Ocarina of Time” on the display, you would watch this:

Above: Ringing any bells yet?

They’re basically point-of-purchase videos designed to run in the background while people shop, perhaps enticing them to buy a game that happens to pop up on the screen. Most of the big-name titles, like say Mario, Zelda, Smash Bros and so on, received very straightforward voiceovers – no need to mix the message or get creative when the game itself is so strong. However, when faced with a weaker title, one that maybe needs some finesse, the voice actors had to get into character.

WTF Voiceovers

Above: Three distinct voices for lame-o games

Conker’s Pocket Tales: Sounds like he should be narrating children’s books (slide whistle and all) but it’s fitting given this is pre-Bad Fur Day Conker. You’ll also notice how he has to stretch to come up with positives for what’s undoubtedly an unremarkable game, namely “even swim a river!”

WWF Attitude: Comically gruff. We imagine that’s what most marketing people think wrestlers sound like. Even better is the fact that these are probably all voiced by the same guy, forcing him to go from squeaky Conker to Stone Cold in one take.

Ken Griffey Jr: The default “baseball announcer” voice we use so frequently in our TalkRadar podcast. Crack the bat!

Above: Attention American Midwest: we get you!

Road Rash 64: Sounds like an out-of-touch voice actor’s approximation of people living in Tennessee. “People who ride bikes talk like this, right?”

Monster Truck Madness: You know, this is actually dead on. We’ve been to a few monster truck shows and the announcer really does belt it out like this. So his previous Road Rash stereotyping can be forgiven. PS this game sucks.

Above: When Full Metal Jacket is your only research

Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes: An ill-gotten franchise that we’re happy to be rid of. The “angry sergeant” voice does fit, so we can’t complain.

Command & Conquer: More baffling than the overacted delivery is the fact that this game even exists. Who wanted to play a game with such small units on a television with terrible resolution?

Sudden Accents

Above: It’s not racist, but it’s something

NASCAR 99: A deep-South redneck twang. No surprise.

WCW/NWO Revenge: We’re not sure what this accent even is, but it’s definitely not necessary. It’s like someone born in Boston and raised in Brooklyn.


Above: For no reason whatsoever, accents!

All Star Tennis 99: We understand needing to spice up the voiceover of a tennis game. It’s not the most exciting subject, we get it. But why record it as if you’re neck deep in kangaroo piss with nothing but a boomerang to save you?

Monaco Grand Prix: Monaco is in Spain. The voice is the most exaggerated Scottish accent we’ve heard in our collective lives. A must-hear.

Bonus! Psychedelic bumpers!


Not all of the tracks on the video CD were game-related – some were very brief bumpers that broke up the voiceovers with wacked-out visions of morphing mascot heads, shifting logos and trippy Game Boy explosions.

Next page: The all-time Nintendo 64 classics and two wonderfully uncomfortable hosts

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  • nomnom52 - June 29, 2011 5:09 a.m.

    It's awesome! I've owned the podracers at one point, I remember having a lot of fun with it and racing my dad. I also remember haing the Spider-Man one for a while on the PS1 (One of the first games I got for it, actually.)
  • mrmorozov987 - December 17, 2010 2:43 a.m.

    Anyone else notice how the AK47 looks different in the Goldeneye video?
  • banjokazoozie - March 16, 2010 10:46 p.m.

    rare should come back to Nintendo
  • Romination - September 21, 2009 4:32 p.m.

    SausageLozenge: You miss the fact that Army Men never died. They still make them. And they suck. If you ask me, it's a series that should get a real push to make good and the that's a good thing. Monaco is also it's own country AND is located in FRANCE.
  • solsurvivor - September 21, 2009 4:20 p.m.

    No StarFox 64???...Denied. That game was most triumphant.
  • FALLINGINFIRE - September 20, 2009 11:48 p.m.

    holy nostalgia batman
  • PrierAdmirer - September 20, 2009 8:56 a.m.

    @AA95mp: I was. By the end of the article I was pretty sure I was going crazy hearing N64 so much. Thumb Magnet was one creepy advertisement. If I saw that on my TV when I was young, I would probably be scared as hell.
  • lovinmyps3 - September 20, 2009 3:12 a.m.

    Haha I actually saw an old Pokemon commercial earlier today. I was watching my old Pokemon VHS videos and there was an ad for Red and Blue at the end.
  • caracol2009 - September 20, 2009 1:13 a.m.

    Monaco is NOT in Spain, it's a completely different country:
  • AA95mp - September 19, 2009 4:20 p.m.

    is anyone else getting sick of hearing "..........................." on your N64.
  • BoondockSaint54 - September 19, 2009 4:09 a.m.

    Good stuff. That DK64 one is hilariously racist.
  • Juggernaut140 - September 19, 2009 2:56 a.m.

    "Banjo Kazooie: Rare’s blatant ripoff of Mario 64 that recently saw new life on XBLA." Stopped reading right there
  • Mittenz - September 19, 2009 1:36 a.m.

    God damn, I remember playing monster truck madness and road rage 64 at my friends house as a kid, good times
  • Tomsta666 - September 19, 2009 1:25 a.m.

    HAHAHA!! I'm pretty sure I still have that Donkey Kong Country VHS tape kicking about somewhere!!
  • gutlessVADER - September 19, 2009 12:08 a.m.

  • BluePikmin - September 18, 2009 9:54 p.m.

    I remember these two (yellow) (red and blue)
  • Jim2y - September 18, 2009 8:59 p.m.

    holy crap! megaman 64?! I didn't think you'd mention it. I remember (and still have) a few of these games, so many memories...
  • nyef - September 18, 2009 8:02 p.m.

    gotta love nintendo... first :)
  • wiitard07 - September 22, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    should have put the SSB 64 add where the people in Ninty character costumes beat each other up in a field of flowers
  • vdogvictor - September 22, 2009 2:34 a.m.

    Monaco is not in Spain, it's its own country....and they speak French. Not that the voice over guy is using a French accent or anything...