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.
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?
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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