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Comedic actor Paul Rudd may be known for his romantic comedies and sarcastic characters on the big screen, but before he was Ant-Man, he was just a kid in a trench coat playing F-Zero in an abandoned drive-in movie theater. The year was 1991, and Paul Rudd was part of the 16-bit console wars.
The 30 second TV spot was uploaded by YouTube user SwozyGustafsson. It starts in a drive-in lot with no cars. A trench-coat wearing kid steps into the lot and puts F-Zero into an SNES sitting in the middle of the drive-in.
The screen kicks on and the kid starts playing one of the more popular games from the 16-bit era, drawing the attention and interactive entertainment cravings of nearby gamers. We get a quick look at SimCity on the SNES, and another cut back to a young Paul Rudd looking intense as he's playing on the big screen. Flashes of The Legend of Zelda pop up on screen as shadowy figures of gamers lurch toward the drive-in.
The entire atmosphere feels more like something out of a 1980s music video or horror film. Camera angles askew, smoke-filled scenery where only the silhouettes are visible, and lots of contrasting colors. It was like a little bit of the late 1980s spilled over into the early 1990s.
Rare gems on the SNES like Pilot Wings are also highlighted, along with The Legend of Zelda. The commercial quickly zips through a few other exclusives for Nintendo's 16-bit home console while Rudd looks on in pure amazement, as if he's just stepped into an arena of full of golden unicorns.
The commercial swells, as the pink shirt-wearing Rudd becomes surrounded by other gamers who are drawn in by the mesmerizing glow of the SNES and the high-quality, sprite-based games on display. The commercial ends with a note that Legend of Zelda and the generically named Football were "to come". And then the narrator lets everyone know that "Now you're playing with power... super power!"
I almost forgot how intense commercials used to be back in the day, actually trying to convince gamers and normies alike that the systems were worth owning.
Back then the console wars were a very different thing. Commercials had to try to squeeze in gameplay and some sort of hook about the features of the console to lure in potential customers. Compared to today's marketing, I would say the older commercials are a lot more effective. We get to see the games, we get to see the controller, we get to see actual gameplay and the commercial has its own bizarre theme.
These days it all seems like marketing video games is constructed in a corporate white room where suits who have never picked up a controller are pitching to the console manufacturers how they should promote their devices, using the most generic imagery possible while packing in as many buzzwords as possible. Heck, I don't even remember what a Wii U commercial looked like... did it even get a commercial?
Anyway, this throwback to the classic era of hardcore gaming is pretty cool. Despite the commercial being cheesy, at least Paul Rudd gets to say he was in one of the more creative spots used during the illustrious 16-bit wars.