Best Nintendo TV Commercials of the '00s and '10s
The end of the N64, a new disc-filled frontier for Nintendo, the rise of the DS and the celebrity 'lifestyle' ads for the company's Blue Ocean audience...
The GBA e-Reader — which offered several NES games on GBA after players swiped multiple physical cards through a bespoke scanner built for the console's cartridge slot — might not have taken off in the West (it never even got off the ground in Europe), but this gorgeous claymation-style commercial alone makes its existence worthwhile.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit
Known as Mario Kart Advance in Japan, this is just a fun little piece of Mushroom Kingdom animation and we love the devilish glint in the eye of the normally placid Mario. The western ad for the GBA game wasn't bad, either.
This pair of off-the-wall spots for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask only show glimpses of gameplay. Instead, most of the commercials are spent focusing on people panicing at the impending apocalypse and hoping that Link can save them all.
The Japanese commercials were marginally less sombre, but if the state of the world is getting you down at the moment, it's probably best you skip down to an ad with Mario skiing off the roof of a house or something.
Enter the GameCube
With Sony having led the games industry in a decidedly less immature direction where ads were concerned, Nintendo adopted some of its rival's abstract tactics for the GameCube's launch campaign. This campaign ultimately wasn't successful in positioning the GameCube as a sleek, cool machine to take on the PS2, but this ad is still an eye-catcher.
"Eye-popping, jaw-dropping GameCube action"
Mario Party 4? Didn't they just do one of them? Fine — grab the Mario suits, Dave. We'll go round Pete's on Sunday, he's got a pool. Bring your camera and some tinnies and we'll make a day of it. What's that? Skis? Oh, go on then...
This is what happens when you blow two years of marketing budget on a trendy launch campaign that makes your console look like the Matrix. Still, we're suckers for bad party costume versions of video game characters, especially when they're beating the crap out of each other.
"Wii would like to play"
You're enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon when two mysterious gentlemen pull up out front and walk to your frontdoor brandishing a mysterious silver briefcase. What do you do?
Apparently, you open up and invite them in to play some Wii. There were loads of "Wii would like to play" commercials, and the idea of two unassuming Japanese chaps arriving on your doorstep with Wiimote treats tickles us somehow. The way they buzz around in that ridiculous Bullet Bill emblazoned smart car has 'cheap 2000s cookery/pets/home refurbishment show' written all over it. They're like the 'Wii Whisperers', or something.
Beyonce chilling with Rhythm Heaven
There were some fairly elaborate set-ups in some of Nintendo's enormous catalogue of TV spots featuring celebrities throughout the Wii/DS/3DS era. We fondly recall Penelope Cruz dressed up as Mario, for example, or Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda's wholesome series of ads for various Zelda games. And there's that odd one with Samantha from Sex and the City (Kim Cattrall, but come on — it's Samantha in the ad) enjoying Mario in his various suits. Less wholesome, that one.
By contrast, the one above is just about as simple as it gets: it's Beyonce chilling out on a couch playing Rhythm Heaven. However, it's worth noting that it's Beyonce chilling out on a couch playing Rhythm Heaven. Therefore, it wins in all categories. We're Beyonce fans here at Nintendo Life, and this could really only be topped if she closed the DS at the end and asked if we fancied a round or two of F-Zero.
Jedward going on a Dragon Quest
Before 2020 we'd have likely consigned this to the 'worst' category and said our friends across the pond got the better deal, but John and Edward have been a joyful tonic on Twitter this year, and we've developed a newfound respect for the pair with the hair. Maybe we had them wrong all along?
On the final page we take a look at some Nintendo commercials we wish we could forget, for one reason or another...