The Weird And Wonderful World Of Australian Video Game Commercials

Before the internet put the entire planet on the same page, there were certain nations on Earth that were a little... slower than others. Places where the latest trends would turn up late, or turn up filtered through a few different sets of hands.

Australia was one of those places.

Owing to our extreme isolation, particularly with regards to the distance between Australia and our cultural "heartlands" in the United States and Western Europe, our video game experience in the 1970s, '80s and '90s was a little different.

That's not to say we were backwards in any way. And I'm sure gamers in places like, say, Greece, or Brazil, will have know exactly what I'm talking about. We grew up with Ataris and Commodore 64s and Nintendo Entertainment Systems and Sega Master Systems and everything else you needed for a grounding in the ways of video games.

But the way the games and consoles were sold to us sometimes felt a little strange, even at the time. And feels even stranger now. Something is slightly off. It's like watching something translated from another language. Only, it's from English into... English.

Sometimes, this left us with disasters/masterpieces like this, which just didn't get what either Nintendo or the NES was about. Evil dogs? Robot partners? What the f**k?

Yet for every strangely awful ad there was a strangely entertaining one (comedian Tim Ferguson's N64 ads being particularly memorable) especially as we entered the 1990s and the people making the commercials obviously knew more about the subject matter than they had in the early '80s.

See below for some of the best, worst and downright strange commercials of the pre-internet era down under.

Things are obviously vastly changed these days. Most commercials are made with international audiences in mind anyway, and those that are left for local subsidiaries to produce can be easily influenced and approved by head offices in Japan, the US and Europe.

[Big thanks to RetroGamingAustralia for most of these clips!]

FUN FACT: Australians don't pronounce "Sega" correctly. We know it's "Say-gah", it says so on title screens, but for some reason, the nation ignores this and prefers to say "See-guh".

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


    These ads are way cooler than what we get now. (At least, I think they are -- they're actually memorable and entertaining.)

      We get video game ads now? Sorry, country WA, nobody bothers advertising games to us I think in the last half decade we might have had a Halo ad and one for the Wii. Hence my addiction to Kotaku.

    3 Atari games were worth $170? Proof that we've always paid too much for video games.

    Pretty sure that kid playing kid in the Dick Smith ad really got his Mario crushed by Bowser. Didn't look like he was going to make it.

      I thought the same thing. Thank the video editing gods for jump cuts.

      kid playing kid? ugh typing fail. Sadly while watching all of those, I found I actually remember the Atari rap and the 'Commodore is keeping up with you' song.



      even with your robot partner?

    God I loved my Seeguh Master System 2.

    Somehow I get the feeling Michael Atkinson got nightmares from these ads and decided to ban games.

    I'd rather have those. This is what we get now; <_<

    Heheh, wait till you see THIS ad*, featuring my first ever console, a DICK SMITH WIZZARD.

    *Warning: Possibly features the pissweak kids from The Late Show. And a very young Dick Smith. And a very creepy bloke.

      Now THATS some crazy ad! And why is Dick Smiths head logo older than him? He looks like the "original" wiggle as well!

      funny how dick is proud of how he imports stuff cheaper than aus made

    these adds are much better than those Nintendo and kinect ads of peoples faces when playing the game.

    Tho that Nintendo 1 add is the weirdest of them all, its a add that was designed to be played in the 1940s and instead of Nintendo it said Japan.

    Wow, I cry for the kids whose parents were sucked in by the Sega SC-3000 ad.
    "The computer of 1984"? Sure, on the planet where C64's weren't available.
    "Are you keeping up with a Commodore?" Hell Yeah.

    Haha, the Intellivision ad must have been the inspiration for the "Degenatron" ads on GTA: Vice City. Play Penetrator, where "you smash the green dots deep inside the mysterious red square!"

    The Sega Rentals one is *definitely* worth a watch, if only because you'll keep saying "Hey I know that voice". Yes it's Holga Brockman, aka the "Have you ever hired a videotape that wasn't quite right?" guy.

    PS: On a serious note, interesting to see the absolutely 'all ages, both genders' aspect of the 80's ads.
    The industry really did lose it's way in that respect, from 1990-2005.

    I remember one when I was a kid advertising the first Ninja Turtles game on the NES and that the end it said "The Only Turtles on Sega are these..." cut to a shot of a Master System with baby turtles crawling all over it! Odd.

    game gear had a TV addon, wow, didn't know that.

      Yeah but it blew. Like the game gear I got 30 minutes out of brand new batteries on Chritmas morning :P

    Get your NES for money, and beaten for free.

    Bottom line is, if Sega was a real word in English, Aussies would simply pronounce it "See-guh." Americans have a more Spanish influence, so they'd say it "Say-guh." In actual fact though, Sega is a Japanese word, so it probably should be pronounced "Seh-guh." But then again, it's short for "Service Games," so perhaps it should be "Ser-guh."

    ... ... See-guh it is, then. ;-p

    Damn I miss brashes. I control-alt-deleted many a Mac in those stores just for the fun of it *snif*

    i used to call it see-guh, but then after a while i changed to the "american way" of saying it

    I rememebr 90% of those ads... very sad

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