7 Advertisements Just Barely Disguised as Video Games

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Companies are always trying to sneak advertisements into our daily lives. Not surprisingly, advertising based games (or advergames) have been around almost as long as the video games themselves. Here are some of the more notable examples.

1. Cool Spot

This game, based on 7-Up, was praised for its smooth graphics and challenging levels, despite the fact that the main character was the then-mascot for the company in a Sonic the Hedgehog-style environment. The sequel, Spot Goes to Hollywood, went flat pretty quickly, and Spot was retired as the company mascot shortly after. But he still hangs out between the 7 and U on the soda label.

2. Yo! Noid!

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Though the 1989 DOS and Commodore 64 game Avoid The Noid had players delivering pizzas and dodging the annoying Domino's Pizza mascot, this 1990 game for NES let the player act as the monstrosity. Noid traversed through New York using a yo-yo to battle his evil duplicate, Mr. Green. Yo! Noid was essentially a modified duplication of another Capcom game from Japan called Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru; the game play remain unchanged, but different facades were applied to the locations.

In case the pizza eating contests at the end of the levels didn't make the player hungry, the game came with a whopping dollar-off coupon for Domino's Pizza. But back in the early 90's that was, like, a dollar fifty.

3. Kool Aid Man

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This game, for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision, had very little to do with busting through walls and disturbingly revolved around drinking from a swimming pool full of Kool Aid that also served as Sir Punch's life bar. The object of the game was to quench the thirst of thirty "Thirsties" using the pool of life matter. Confused? So was everyone who ever played it.

4. Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool and Wild Wild Quest

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The Joe Camel of the snack food world received not one, but two of his own video games for SNES and Genesis, respectively. Neither game was well received; the game play was considered complicated and boring, and the instruction manuals contained bad rhymes that were very poorly translated from Japanese, such as "As is Chester Cheetah way, is one-person play."

5. The King Games

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That creepy King starred in three economically priced video games for X-Box in 2006: Pocketbike Racer, Big Bumpin' and Sneak King. The games were extremely popular due to their low price and high fun content. Burger King and its marketing company won several advertising awards for the campaign.

6. Chase the Chuck Wagon

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Another low-fi Atari 2600 adventure, this game was a maze-based and required the player to guide a dog to attain the glorious chuck wagon. The game was only available through proofs of purchase on the dog food bags. Only a handful of customers took Purina up on their promotion. Because very few copies made it into the hands of the public, the game is a prized collectors item.

7. M.C. Kids

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Of course the marketing masters for McDonalds had to get involved in the video game world. In this game, two teenage players enter the McDonalds Fantasy Land to chase after Ronald McDonald's "fun bag" which has been stolen by Hamburglar. McDonalds was not pleased with the final product, so they refused to promote the game. The game was too difficult for most younger players, and older players thought that it was a ripoff of other popular games, like Super Mario Brothers 3.

Caroline Donnelly is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

January 17, 2008 - 11:20am
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