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The 10 Least Subtle Product Placements in Video Game History

Sick of advertisements in your video games? Well, once upon a time, the video games were the ads. A number of titles were produced from the ground-up to be nothing but a sales pitch--one you had to pay to see.

Luckily for mankind, this corporate cabal shot itself in the foot. Most of the games were so jaw-droppingly shitty that few have attempted it since (we're looking at you, Burger King).

How shitty were they? Behold:

#10.
The California Raisins: The Grape Escape (Nintendo, 1991)

For those readers too young/senile to remember, these desiccated purple turds were the claymation spokesfruits for the California raisin industry. Like a carnival freak show, folks were intrigued by the Raisins overall grossness, and raisin sales initially shot up as people bought the product out of morbid curiosity. However, the Raisins popularity waned as consumers soon could not look at them without dry heaving.

Legendary game designer Capcom (Mega Man, Final Fight) produced The Grape Escape in the dying days of the Raisins' fame. Luckily for Capcom's reputation and the human condition, the game was never released. If you have a taste for sadomasochism and dried fruit, know that this monstrosity occasionally pops up on eBay.

Surprisingly enough, your raisin's primary weapon was not his own horrible shriveled face. No, it was a "Raisin Rifle" or a "Goop Gun" or a "Puree Peashooter" or whatever. Anyway, when you shot foes with raisin gunk, in actuality you were slinging your own bodily fluids around.

That's a Freudian quagmire we have zero interest marching into.

#9.
Pepsi Invaders (Atari 2600, 1983)

During the "Cola Wars" of the 1980s, some wacky advertising execs at Coca-Cola took the term a little too literally and hired Atari to create Pepsi Invaders. The soft drink manufacturer released the game - a modified version of the arcade classic Space Invaders - for their 1983 sales convention. Atari produced only 125 copies of Pepsi Invaders, ostensibly to prevent their asses from getting sued off.


In retrospect, these labels are kind of unnecessary.

Pepsi Invaders has no plot, but we can infer this much from the gameplay - Pepsi (or a malevolent, Pepsi-loving alien race) is annihilating humanity. The Coca-Cola Company (which has somehow scored a sweet defense contract from the Reagan administration) now mans the Star Wars Defense System.

Once you crushed Pepsi's alphabet-shaped fleet, the words "COKE WINS" materialized in the heavens, the god of the video game world declaring to his creation the superiority of one can of high fructose corn syrup over another.

Pepsi Invaders made some really bold claims about Pepsi's corporate ethics. Blindfolded taste tests are one thing, but accusing your competitor of engineering global genocide? Look who's talking, Coke.

#8.
Super Caesar's Palace (Super Nintendo, 1992)

In the early 90s, Caesars Palace commissioned game manufacturer Majesco to tempt Super Nintendo owners with the forbidden fruits of Las Vegas. This scheme failed as A.) many SNES owners weren't of legal gambling age; and B.) Super Caesars Palace made you feel like you were the last gambler in a post-apocalyptic Vegas where all other humans had been wiped out.

Never mind the come-hither stare of the buxom patrician on the game's box - Super Caesars Palace is an exercise in loneliness. You navigated the nearly deserted casino playing slots, poker and scratch-off lottery tickets all by yourself.

We're not sure if you're familiar with the gambling industry, but the scratch tickets aren't a good sign. Legitimate casinos don't have those. Also, if you ever wander into a Vegas casino and realize you're the only customer in the joint, you should probably run for the doors, because it's either a really bad place to gamble or it's on fire.

#7.
M.C. Kids (Nintendo, 1991) and McDonald's Treasure Land Adventures (Genesis 1993)

Video games about fast food? The only thing more conducive to childhood obesity would be if it came with an IV that injected bacon drippings directly into kids' veins as a reward.

These two corporate tie-in titles from the early 90s seemed to have nothing to do with McDonald's products and everything to do with corporate iconography.

Then again, look at that picture up there. You might be wondering how the sight of a mutated apple vomiting on a clown was supposed to make kids hungry for hamburgers. Well, we're thinking it has something to do with a mom trying to get her boy to eat some healthy apples the next day, and the kid screaming in terror and demanding a nice McDonald's burger instead.

Also, Mayor McCheese doesn't appear in either game, an oversight so egregious that it borders on criminal. Fuck these guys.

#6.
Chester Cheetah: Too Cool To Fool (Genesis & Super Nintendo, 1992)

If by this point you're saying, "Who in the hell would actually buy these games?!?" remember that there is a whole section of the terrible games industry that aims itself, not at gamers, but at the out-of-the-loop family members who do the gift shopping.

It's not hard to imagine your grandmother walking into the video game aisle of Toys "R" Us, seeing Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah on a box and thinking, "By gum, that interactive television novelty has that saucy cat on the box! My lovable porker of a grandchild does adore his curdy twigs!"

It's impossible to tell how many Christmases and birthdays Chester Cheetah: To Cool To Fool ruined, but we estimate way too many.

On top of that, here's another case of an advergame miserably failing to sell the product it's supposed to shill. You'd think a game about Cheetos would make the snack look like ambrosia, right?

Wrong. In the game, Cheetos are circular, purplish and look like nipples. Apparently they thought the game was supposed to be based on Japanese Cheetos.

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