The 6 Most Needlessly Terrifying Video Game Commercials Ever

#3. Xbox -- Shooting Babies into Graves

Microsoft, via YouTube

Back in 2001, Microsoft needed an eye-catching way to introduce its brand new Xbox system to the public, something that conveyed the power and ingenuity of the system and the palpable awesomeness of its library of games. What they made instead was an ad that begins with a woman in a hospital firing an infant out of her splayed crotch like a circus cannon and sending the baby through the glass window of the maternity ward.

As the newborn flies through the sky like a tiny missile made of adorable flesh, it quickly ages into a young boy like a growth-accelerated clone fathered by godless science. The boy continues to eerily morph into a teenager, screaming in terror while reflexively covering his privates, because he is flying through the air at speeds high enough to uproot your genitals like a mailbox in a hurricane.

Microsoft, via YouTube
"We feel that screaming naked boys will really appeal to our target audience."

The screaming teen transmogrifies into an equally nude and screaming adult and then finally into a trembling, shrieking old man before smashing headfirst through a dusty sarcophagus in a lonely graveyard:

Microsoft, via YouTube
Wow; nice aim, Mom.

After enduring that terrifying minute of nihilistic cinema, we are rewarded with the devil-may-care tagline Microsoft invented for its new system: "Life is short. Play more." The ad wound up being banned in several countries, despite Microsoft's insistence that it conveyed a "positive statement about life." That statement of course being "All life on this planet dies in a cosmic instant, so you might as well spend your blip of eternity playing Xbox."

#2. Nintendo 64 -- Blackmail Your Cross-Dressing Relatives into Buying You Video Games

Evan-Amos, via Wikipedia

Nintendo decided that the best way to push its line of value-priced Greatest Hits video games for the Nintendo 64 was to release a commercial featuring a young teen walking in on his father wearing full drag and being bribed into silence with the exact retail price of Pokemon Snap, because apparently that's a timeless piece of adolescence we can all relate to.

Nintendo, via YouTube
There was an episode of the Wonder Years about this, right?

We begin with a tracking shot through a suburban home, panning over framed pictures of a happy family as we hear the gentle narration of the father's voice, accompanied by sentimental music, explaining to his son that money isn't everything and that family, health, and happiness are what are truly important. Finally, the camera comes to rest on the son's dopey face as he is standing in the doorway of his parents' bedroom gawking at his father, who has reached an advanced stage of fabulousness in a dress, makeup, and pearls.

Rather than patiently explain to his son that this is just a part of Dad's personality that is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of, the father says, "What I'm trying to say is, how much will it cost to keep this from your mother?" Then we smash cut to the line of bargain-priced Player's Choice games Nintendo is trying to sell as the wackiest narrator on planet Earth guffaws his way through a sales pitch elucidating that the games are so inexpensive, you might be able to con your cross-dressing father into buying you two in exchange for keeping his torturous personal secret hidden from his wife.

Nintendo, via YouTube
"The wig says 'New game,' but Grandma's pearls say '... played on my new TV.'"

As if in response to the wacky narrator's suggestion, the ad ends with the kid walking into the bathroom and discovering his grandfather in a pair of pumps and thigh-high stockings.

Nintendo, via YouTube
"Grandma died last November, I've just been trying to ease you guys into it."

Now he doesn't have to choose between Donkey Kong 64 and Super Smash Bros. -- he can extort his vulnerable, closeted family for both.

#1. Sega Saturn Will Tear Your Eyeballs Out of Your Skull

Sega, via YouTube

Back in 1995, Sega released its first 3D gaming console, the Saturn, to fanfare that seems impossible to explain unless you were 12 years old in the '90s, a period of time wherein poorly rendered polygons were virtually indistinguishable from reality. Despite the fact that the Saturn had a four-month lead on the PlayStation in the U.S. and a two-year head start on the Nintendo 64, it still wound up being considered a huge failure and finished well behind Sony and Nintendo in that generation of the console wars. We suspect the following David Lynch masturbation fantasy Sega released as the Saturn's debut ad in America may have had something to do with that:

It begins with a man wearing a trench coat and a face full of scowl strolling into John Carpenter's Castle Dracula, where he is greeted by two topless platinum women who inform us that he "executes" games.

Sega, via YouTube
We typically wouldn't bemoan this, but unfinished torsos might be a little too topless.

We're then treated to a juxtaposed series of images showing us a race car driver getting strapped into his driver's seat while the Game Executioner plops down in a comfy ergonomic command recliner. The driver redlines his engine as a pair of plastic tubes deploys into the Executioner's face and dislodges his eyeballs like peeled grapes in a Dyson vacuum.

Sega, via YouTube
"FYI, the eye reinserting machine is in the shop."

It is at this point, 45 seconds into the commercial, when we finally see footage from an actual Sega Saturn game, displayed briefly on two small television screens in front of the disembodied eyeballs.

Sega, via YouTube
Because this concept worked so well the first time.

The Game Executioner is now in charge of piloting the race car. Understandably, sucking his eyes out of his head makes the task of driving a race car impossibly difficult, and he gets into a horrific crash that transforms the hapless race car driver into Jesus.

Sega, via YouTube
"Why don't you just heal yourself?"
"Insurance reasons. Thanks, Obama."

Race Car Jesus then gets rushed down a hallway on a stretcher by some doctors, but the group is intercepted by the Game Executioner, his eyes now glued firmly back in their rightful place. He leans menacingly over Race Car Jesus and whispers, "Reality always hurts." The camera then zooms into the likely paralyzed driver's eye, we see the Sega Saturn logo floating spectrally in his ocular fluid, and nobody asked for a Sega Saturn that Christmas.


Maxwell Yezpitelok is in Chile and also on Twitter. Peter File is a mild-mannered reporter by day, but by night, he's kinda rude.

Related Reading: Not done being creeped out by video games? Check out these horribly true urban legends. Of course all that horror was intentional. These glitches in video games are so scary, it's almost impossible they AREN'T the result of machines turning against us. And if you're more interested in how dark a child's video game can get, this link can help.

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