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There are GAMES and then there are games. The games we'll be discussing tonight on A Weird Kid Top 10 will generally never make it onto any respectable gamer's list of top 10 anything. Luckily for you Mr. Destructoid reader you've got me, and I, in turn, am lucky to have you.
For years now we've heard the discussion of ads being forced into video games and how they supposedly effect the immersion factor of the games we play. But many of you don't realize how lucky we are that we no longer have to buy and pay full price for games where the entire game is an advertisement.
Love 'em or hate 'em, these games are part of our video game culture. Many, many of them are horrendous examples of games, while some others are geniune diamonds in the rough, actual good content wrapped in an advertisement skin. Tonight's list is my Top 10 Advertainment Games. Catch you at the end.
Chase The Chuck Wagon -- Atari 2600
Yes, people advergames stretch back as far as the good ol' wood paneled glory that was the Atari 2600. Made by the Purina company as a reward to customers who sent in multiple proof of purchase labels from their dog food packages, this game was never commercially released. That reason alone makes this game a very sought after cartridge.
It really is no wonder why there was a video game crash back in 1983, companies had no clue on how to market video games. The audience who were playing games at the time were kids (who when I last checked don't usually buy the dogfood in the house). Some of us have had enough of a hard time growing up explaing gaming to our parents, how tough do you think it was in the early 80s to convince a parent that you want a dog food game?
Kool-Aid Man -- Atari 2600
Always busting through walls shouting his inexplicable catch phrase "oh yeah!" and distributing cold sugary beverages to the childrens, Kool-Aid Man is a marketing character that many of us grew up with. I can fondly remember not drinking anything but kool-aid for a huge chunk of my life (no wonder I was an obese kid), and eating delicious fat foods while gaming on the NES. Ahh the halcyon days of youth.
This game, is nothing like an enjoyable youth. You star as the Kool-Aid Man trying to quench the thirst of the aptly named "Thirsties", like many Atari games, the graphics are nowhere near as polished as something you'd see nowadays. The whole point of the game is to stop the thirsties from drinking all of the water from your local swimming pool by giving them something that will really dehydrate them, KOOL-AID! It as fun as it sounds and even mimics the act of making the disgustingly sweet beverage by having to collect water (W), sugar (S) and Kool-Aid mix (K). Like I said earlier, video game crash of '83.
M.C. Kids -- NES
McDonalds is a company that people have grown fond of hating, whether it be its blatant attempt at capturing certain "niche" crowds, their horrible ba-da ba ba ba jingle that every one of you just got into your head, or the fact that no matter where you go in the world you're likely to find a place to buy a double quarter pounder with cheese. Of course, this is the adult in me talking, the same adult that hasn't eaten there in over 5 years. But I wasn't always this way, all of us started as kids.
What did you want as a kid for dinner? A Happy Meal perhaps? This is akin to what McDonalds wanted for kids like us growing up, they hoped that by equating video games to fast food, that we'd be customers for life. This was McDonalds first foray into video game development for the NES, that featured two kids (one black, one white, but equal powered) attempting to help Ronald McDonald find his bag of tricks that was nabbed by the nefarious Hamburglar. For a game that was a big commercial, it wasn't half bad. The main weapon that you'd use in the game to fight with were bricks (always cool), and there were over 30 levels to explore. Of course, that's nowhere near as good as Super Mario Bros. 3. But at least it was an honest attempt.
McDonald'sTreasureland Adventure -- Genesis
This time around in McDonaldland you actually play as the child molesting clown himself, Ronald McDonald. The game is, well you probably already guessed it, a platformer. A good platformer at that. The level design was incredible for a licensed game, much less one about a McDonald's mascot. There was a ton of variation in each levels you'd venture to. The game is quite frankly a cross between Earthworm Jim, Mickey Mousecapades, and Vectorman. The Genesis showed that it too was capable of making decent games with this title. The graphics were surprisingly refreshing and bright, the special effects with the boss battles were fun, this was just a fun platformer to play. Its too bad that they had to slap the McDonald's name onto it, it could have stood on its own two feet IMO.
Chester Cheetah: Too Cool To Fool -- SNES
I loved the mascot for the Frito-Lay Cheetos, Chester Cheetah was the Fonz for a whole generation of kids that didn't ever watch Happy Days. This game is another in a long line of sub-par platformers released on both the SNES and the Genesis. You star as Chester who is enjoying his life at the zoo until your prized scooter is stolen and broken up into pieces. For the game you strive to find all of the pieces of your scooter hidden around the zoo grounds. I'll be honest, I played this for maybe 5 minutes before I had to stop. It wasn't a bad game, I just couldn't take the blatant advertising, though the graphics were quite pretty really.
Spot -- NES
Spot was another of the famous (or infamous) 7-up games released in the early 90s. This one however, wasn't a platformer like Cool Spot but a competitive puzzle game that is reminiscent of Ataxx or Infection, in that they are all puzzle games that use the same mechanic to play. I remember the most was having some friends over, breaking out the NES Satellite and having a blast playing 4 player while all of us laughed at the animations that Spot did when moving or capturing a piece. This was a fairly decent game for its day that was helmed by the guys at Bullet Proof Software (they made Tetris big). Not a purchase, but a definite rental.
Chex Quest -- PC
One could easily look at this game and mistake it for Doom. That's funny because it uses the exact same engine as Doom. They simply changed everything from demons to booger monsters, machine guns with "zorchers" which use an energy that forces the Flemoids back to their world. The health was changed from medi-paks to varying food groups, the armor was replaced with Chex cereal, and there was no violence only a ton of bodily fluids exchanged. Sure the game was sub-par compared to the original Doom, but how many other games do you know that advertise as a full blown FPS?
Yo! Noid -- NES
How many of you old bastards remember the Noid from the Domino's commercials from back in the 80s? I do, and while it was fun to play as the pizza stealing asshole in a fucked up costume. This game was pretty derivative for its time. The graphics weren't that great, there were some fun mini-games between levels that were fun, but the whole run & gun aspect of each level got old quick for a NES game. I mean, the whole point of the game was to beat up on the Domino's personnel, not much plot there guys.
The Burger King Trilogy -- Xbox 360
I remember this time last year finding out that there were 3 games slated to come to the Xbox 360 that you could only pick up at Burger King locations. After I saw that all of the games featured the horribly creepy yet so friendly "The King" character, I told myself that no matter what you have to buy these. 3 Burger Kings later and 10 bucks poorer, I had all 3 games in my grasp. I then proceeded to my house to play them as quickly as I could. Big Bumpin' was a pretty lame game, but it was forgivable because it cost a whole 3 bucks and provided 200 achievement points, the same could be said about Pocket Bike Racer but I thought it was a much better game. Where it was at for this trilogy was with Sneak King.
For those of you out there that haven't caught the pun yet (it took me a while), say the title really fast, it sounds like sneaking. Ok, so the whole point of the game is to hide or sneak up on unsuspecting people and surprise them with various foods that Burger King makes. It was just like the commercials except this time we got to see the King setting up his trap and was generally just so fucking creepy. The best part was all of the little animations that the programmers put into his actions, hiding in a pile of leaves involves the king diving in head first, that's brilliant. Even better are the showboating moves that he puts on for the customers when he delivers. I loved playing this game.
Cool Spot -- Genesis
Wow, a refreshingly good advergame in its own regard. Cool Spot was a pretty damn good platformer back in its day. The graphics are well animated and vivid, and the music even won a few awards the year it came out. This game is the antithesis to anything that was listed above. The Spot character was probably one of my favorite animated mascots in recent memory (more so than the Coke drinking polar bear, which I'll never understand).
The appeal to Cool Spot is that you play the game as the tiny little character that you'd see on the 7-Up commercials, and the drink bottles back in the mid '90s. Sure it probably made the beverage company some money from increased sales, but the game was actually good and fun to play. It makes you wonder why companies don't try as hard as others when making these types of games.
Yaris -- Xbox Live Arcade
This game is an affront to all that is good about free games. This game is so wretchedly bad that I've deleted it and constantly regret having it show up on my played games list. The achievements are so poorly planned that it takes too long in a bad game to accomplish even one of them. Seriously people, this game goes to show that just because something is free, it doesn't mean that it's any good. Avoid this at all costs!
That does it for another edition of A Weird Kid's Top 10. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Many thanks go to Brosef for bringing up tonight's idea for the list. As always, let me know if you have a particular top 10 that you'd like to see, and I'd be happy to oblige. And for all of you that have submitted ideas, I promise I'll eventually get around to yours. Thanks for reading!!!