The 6 Most Baffling Xbox Commercials,
Well, today’s Mother’s Day, a day where we look thank our mothers and maternal figures for their part in our lives. It’s a day of breakfasts in beds, brunches, quiet reflection, simple acts of gratitude and affection, or however you choose to celebrate it in your family. So let’s talk about Xbox commercials.
Baffling choice for a topic? Well, not as baffling as some of these commercials. While Microsoft’s home console has actually enjoyed some very good marketing campaigns (if I was making a list of best commercials for Microsoft, “Believe” would probably be the winner) they also engaged in some of the weirdest commercials this side of a demonic baby doll. It was like the marketing department knew they should make memorable ads, but forgot to engage in the other practices that good commercials have, like a clear message, or remembering to show/mention the product more than once. These commercials (and promotional video in #5′s case) are some of the strangest I’ve ever seen and they baffle me. What makes this list extra fun is that most of these commercials were actually banned from being broadcast, a testament to the sometimes disturbing messages and images the commercials made use of.
So friends, let’s take a journey into madness, shall we? Remember to share your thoughts below and that this list is purely opinion-based.
6. Pie to the Face
I…. what? Is this a metaphor? A statement about the human condition? Look, I don’t know Japanese, but there’s barely any spoken dialogue. It’s just a Japanese woman wandering around a hotel or apartment complex and then taking a cream pie to the face before the Xbox logo appears. Y’know, I’m starting to see why the Xbox didn’t take off in Japan when it had marketing like this behind it. I mean, Japanese commercials can get weird, especially when they involve desserts, but at least the weirdness comes from a manic energy or over-dramatization of a mundane occurrence. This is dull and rather lifeless, making me wonder if the director wasn’t just turning in a student film he once made.
Of course, what’s probably even more baffling to you is that, on a list of confusing commercials, the Japanese entry is in last place. Well, for the explanation to that conundrum, keep on reading as we head on over to….
5. The Saga of Darkmaster
Now here’s something I had rightfully forgotten about. See, along with your Xbox Live starter kit back in the day, you got a launch disk that not only helped you set up the service, but also contained promotional videos that told the story of Darkmaster, an Xbox Live gamer who was so amazingly 90′s that he was sent into 2002 so the decade wouldn’t collapse in on itself. Let’s check off the things that are wrong with this commercial, shall we?
1.Dark Master is in a dorm room (which can be inferred by the fact that one of his buddies is in “The Next dorm room”). What college gives individual students rooms of that size?
2. Chrono Warriors and World Cup Warriors? Really Microsoft? I realize that you didn’t exactly have the biggest library of games ready for Xbox Live when the service launched, but you did have titles and if you are going to use fake games, could you at least make the footage look better than something technical schools would be using in their advertisements? Also, what sports game allows all of the athletes to be individually controlled by players without balancing so the other side isn’t left with only one player?
3. “Dork master?” I realize you couldn’t unleash a string of profanities on a service you were trying to sell all audiences, but couldn’t you at least make the insults more biting than something that might be said on Saved by the Bell? Also “that dookie don’t float?” Someone got paid to write that. I want you to think about that and weep.
4. That’s not the Xbox Live interface.
5. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that Darkmaster is so good, he doesn’t even have to turn his Xbox on.
Still, you might be saying to yourself: It’s not too bad or confusing. The commercial does show that the service allows you to connect with players from around the world and it even features the Xbox’s voice changer, a feature I wish the 360 had kept (and enforced as hearing players scream the millions of way they wished I would die becomes a lot more entertaining if they talked like Dr. Claw). Well, where it becomes baffling is in its sequel. Yes, there was a sequel. Please watch below before continuing.
So, Darkmaster decided to get a job. Good for him. Yeah, the job involves him dancing around in an outfit that probably smells of sweat, puke, and various bodily fluids from all of its previous wearers but hey, everybody needs to work a crap job at some point. On the other hand, outside of dressing up (including glasses for some reason), he’s decided to do everything to ruin his chances of getting the job. Let’s see, instead of giving any of his strengths, he spends the entirety of the interview talking about his hobby and he even lies about it (notice how some of his friends have changed their locations?). I mean, we just saw the original ad, things did not go that way at all. I give credit to an actual game being mentioned this time around (Mech Assault, at that) but unless this is happening in a parallel earth, our boy has some serious memory problems (he also still can’t remember what the actual Live interface looks like). Honestly though, if you were hiring for even the lowest job of your company, wouldn’t you want someone who can stay on task (not go off on tangents about playing the vidja games), has functioning memory faculties (you either lost “the football game” or you didn’t, champ), and isn’t obsessed with his or her hobbies (not only does he waste the interviewer’s time but he admits to playing the night before a big exam)?
And yet, he gets the job. Which makes me think that Darkmaster should probably check that suit for bullet holes. Considering how the next commercial (yes, there was another one but it came down with a case of sanity so it’s not on the list) has him as a spokesperson for Xbox Live, I think he found some.
4. German Pilots and the Crazy Couple (Banned Commercials)
Hey, do you like shirking your responsibilities, damaging your company’s multimillion dollar equipment, and endangering innocent lives? Then you need an Xbox!
But hey, what if you and your significant other are a pair of competitive sadomasochists who need to slow it down?
We’ve got you covered. What if you want to stalk, imprison, and replace a celebrity?
3. Dance Central Lets You do Just That
Huh, so a guy’s getting his legs waxed… nothing wrong with that. Dressing in heels and gold bloomers, all right, whatever makes you comfortable. Okay, so now he’s wearing the weird sort-of-hoodie-but-not-really-thing Kylie Minogue wore in “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” the same song that’s playing in the background. All right, so the guy is a huge Kylie Minogue fan, a taste I don’t share but hey, to each their own. Now he’s taking his clothes to the dry cleaners and… claiming he’s Kylie Minogue?! Okay, okay, maybe he’s just joking–and now he’s sneaking into her dressing room to touch her things and steal her clothes. At this point, I was reminded of the Lady Gaga comic, albeit with a simultaneously more disturbing yet likable protagonist (the comic had an obsessed fan as a protagonist).
Well, that wasn’t a bad viewpoint to have as the commercial ends with the guy running into Minogue, locking her in her dressing room, and then taking her place on stage, using the moves he picked up from playing Dance Central to impersonate her. He goes back, considers letting her out, and then decides against it before he goes back out on stage.
The past three commercials are baffling, not because they are hard to follow, but because they seem to exist in their own worlds and unintentionally seem to suggest that The Xbox isn’t just a game console but rather an outlet for some of the more disturbing aspects of the human psyche. It seems like a counterproductive direction to take a commercial and doesn’t really encourage all audiences to buy it.
Still, while that might have been odd, it’s time we went to the just plain weird.
2. Life’s Too Short (Banned Commercial)
That’s right, expecting mothers. If you aren’t careful, you’ll shoot your baby out at Mach 10, causing it to age at an accelerated rate as it breaks the laws of time and space, its entire existence consisting of screaming in fear as it soars towards its grave. What does this have to do with the Xbox? I have no idea; unless this is supposed to be a metaphor for the life of an Xbox Live Rager. If anything, since this poor child had hardly any time to comprehend its existence, I’m more likely to associate him with the sperm whale from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Still, while the thought of a being who lives out his entire life screaming before he crashes into his grave is disturbing, at least it’s not as gross or confusing as the #1 spot on our list.
1. Mosquitoes (Banned Commercial)
Okay, you watched the ad right? Good, good. I hope you had a good laugh at the breakdancing maggot and didn’t get too grossed out by all of the close-ups of the CG mosquitoes. So, now that we’ve all had time to process… that, allow me to ask a simple question:
WHAT THE HELL WAS THE POINT OF THAT?
So, mosquitoes used to be nature’s musicians, make life good for all the animals, and bringing joy to the earth. Then somebody told them to work and they began sucking blood, even going so far as to crawl within a person’s heart and suck the life out of a comatose patient. Then humans retaliated and began killing mosquitoes, who had become “bad musicians.” So, as a final warning to humans, the mosquitoes tell us to embrace our spirit of play.
You know, when it comes to baffling game commercials, the one that gets brought up all the time is the PlayStation 3 commercial that just has a creepy baby doll being awed by a PlayStation 3:
At least in that case though, you kind of get what the advertisers were going for. The little hellspawn is clearly impressed with the floating device and calls it mommy, imprinting on the console as a power it wishes to emulate. While disturbing (I keep expecting to see D-levelSCP personnel piled in a corner), it shows the PS3 as something strange and impressive; it is a unique object that demands your attention (or at least the attention of Lucifer’s minions).
In the same vein, the other commercials on this list at least had a point, no matter how much they might have stumbled trying to tell it. The pie to the face was the surprise of experiencing the system and the pilots, Dance Central commercial, and crazy couples showed the Xbox could be an outlet for your wilder desires. Even the “Life is too short” commercial was trying to say that you should enjoy the best console since life is so short (they forgot to mention that part, though).
This… What is the point? Play the Xbox or turn into a mosquito? No, they don’t mention the Xbox, so it’s any type of play. The Xbox logo is just shoved on at the end. The mosquitoes were “bad musicians,” but the only music feature the Xbox really had was the ability to make custom playlists for games. There’s lots of bug squishing, so maybe it’s referencing that mini-game in Fusion Frenzy where you smash giant bugs with mallets. No, that can’t be it, because the mosquitoes were normal size. Wait, “mosquito” stats with an ‘M’ and so does Microsoft. So maybe, just maybe… I have no idea why this commercial is trying to sell me an Xbox and I’ll probably relegate it to a fever dream within a week, as you probably should.
Well, that was the list. If you have any suggestions for the list or for future lists, please share them below in the comments.