Thursday, March 1, 2012

Five video games that were marketing ploys in disguise

As long as video games have existed, there has been someone looking to advertise in them.  Some companies go a step further, making a game that serves as one big advertisement.  Some of these games are surprisingly enjoyable, and others are notable in a historical sense.  So without further ado, here's five video games that were marketing ploys in disguise.

Cool Spot (Genesis/SNES)

7-up had themselves quite the product placement with this little number.  The red spot, seen on every can at the time, became the central protagonist.  It's really quite a clever idea.  The game's power-ups were all based off of the 7-up logo too, so brand recognition was stealthily ingrained in young children's minds.

Mick And Mack as the Global Gladiators (Genesis)

Everyone thought the golden arches were known everywhere when this game came out.  Apparently, the board of directors thought otherwise.  Mick and Mack must save the world, by finding the golden arches hidden in each level.  After the player finds enough, the exit to the level opens up.  Find all the golden arches in a level, and a bonus stage appears in between the levels.  It's not a AAA title by any stretch of the imagination, but one of the more interesting mentions in advergaming.

Chex Quest (PC)

Now this one holds a special place in the heart of many kids who grew up in the 90's.  Essentially a Doom port at its core, Chex Quest was one of the few ways kids could play Doom with their parent's approval.  Given that it was practically given away with every box of Chex cereal, it was very easy to obtain a copy.  Chex Quest also had a surprisingly high level of polish to it, too.  Every level had some secret rooms, spots to find ammo, it really felt like kid-friendly Doom.

Chase the Chuck Wagon (Atari 2600)

Prior to the video game crash of 1983, quite a few brands made their own video games as advertisements.  I touched on this in The end is nigh! (and that's not a bad thing).  Even though McDonald's, Quaker, and other companies made games, I'm focusing on this one because it's more recognizable than other examples from the time period.  Chase the Chuck Wagon was essentially a maze game, with players controlling a dog who was trying to get to the chuck wagon full of Purina Dog Chow.  It was sponsored by Purina, who gave it away to people who collected Proof of Purchase stamps and mailed them in.  It's a simple game, and it's kind of difficult to notice that Purina is the company that makes it, but those details didn't matter 30 years ago.

Sneak King (Xbox/Xbox 360)

And here we have the creepy king, king of Burger King. In this game, you play as the king, and sneak up on people to give them Burger King foods.  Sneak King breaks every taboo about interacting with people, and will relegate its followers to a life of basements.

It sells at GameStop for super cheap now, and only worth checking out if you're really hurting for another 1000 gamerscore.

I hope you enjoyed this Top 5.  See you in two weeks!

Also, are there subjects that you'd like to see me do a Top 5 list on?  Sound off in the comments below!

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