When Nintendo Ruled The World
As I’ve said time and again, growing up (such as I did) as a child of the 80’s, I was fully inundated with mass marketing and the pure overload of everything as everything. Let me elaborate. Back in the day, toys and kid’s shows weren’t just toys and kid’s shows. Oh hell no. The brain-trusts behind each and every new item geared toward children made damn sure that all of their available bases were covered by splashing their fantastic new ‘thing’ all over everything from lunch boxes and TV trays to sneakers and sticker books. Oh yes, it was far, far worse than it is now. Besides, now-a-days you’ve only got a solid half-dozen things out all over stuff at one time: your girls favorites (Hannah Montana and Camp Rock), your boys favorites (Avatar and Transformers), and your tween shit (Twilight and Jonas). These particular items, however smothering, are mere pittances compared to the truckloads of crap from back in the 80’s and 90’s. Especially Nintendo.
When Nintendo went from playing cards to the full on Home Video Game market, holy shit… the marketing objects went through the roof. Literally. As soon as Mario hit the scene it was like Mickey Mouse all over again. If you were cool, and you had a set of parents willing to drop a few hundred that first Christmas, you knew right away the pure, majestic power of Nintendo and its little plumber mascot. Mario and company were literally all over everything. Perhaps you don’t really remember some of the many items you likely owned as a child. Well, let’s refresh all of our memories, shall we?
First on our list has got to be the mighty marketing monster: cereal. Kids love cereal, kids eat cereal, and dammit, kids remember cereal. So what better way to get kids to think about Nintendo right after they get up? The Nintendo Cereal System, of course! This was a dual-pouched box of sugary goodness consisting of Mario cereal nuggets and Legend of Zelda (specifically Link) cereal bits. The box beckons you to mix and match, and who wouldn’t? And what box of kids breakfast treats would be complete without a prize? Not this one, bucko! These often came with coupons for games, little plastic characters from said games, or even tips and trick to help you win those games! Oh. Yes.
Back in my day, carrying lunchboxes to school was a sign of coolness and appreciation for your favorite past time. No one ever got their ass kicked for sporting a boss dinner bucket. Well, unless you were a dude with some plain-Jane drug-store model with nothing on it. Then you got your ass kicked. But if you were cool, along with your Trapper Keeper and mechanical pencils (hey, those were a fairly new deal, too), you always had your handy lunch box sporting the latest fad to tumble down the pike. And it should come as no surprise to anyone that Nintendo joined this strategy, too. This box-Thermos duo featured basically the same fellows as the cereal: Mario and Link. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Though many families touted the prospect of family togetherness at the dinner table, just as many said, “Screw this crap. We wanna watch TV while we eat.” And so was born the TV Tray. After models came and went, the purely aluminum tray with the baked-on graphics became the standard and took on the forms of just about every television show, movie, and kids crap around. Nintendo was absolutely no exception. They new a good marketing tool when they saw one and grabbed on with both hands. Enjoy your cereal on this bastard right in front of the…
Here’s the deal: you either made a cartoon to promote your new toy line, or you made a toy line featuring a new cartoon. Both were equally effective and did the job pretty much the same way: kids wanted what you were hocking. So, along comes Nintendo; the upstart video game company all cock-sure of themselves and tossing money willy nilly. So what did they do? Make a cartoon of course! Check out what this Captain N masterpiece was all about and then dig on this little ditty:
There simply is no better way to get your sugar levels peaked than by ingesting mass quantities of candy. And everyone knows, if you’re gonna play that marathon Nintendo session where you need to work your way through Metroid or Kid Icaris in one sitting, you are really going to need to be as high on that sweet nectar as humanly possible, even bordering diabetic levels. So why not get ya some of these Pez-like candy depositors and munch away! Mmmm… tastes like Donkey Kong!
So after all that candy and cartoons and incessant video games, it was time for bed. And any kid who was anyone had a cool set of some kind of themed jammies. Maybe you were the Underoo kid who had a few sets of Spidey and Superman skivvies, or maybe you were the kind who preferred to sweat buckets in the footie PJ’s. However you liked to sleep, it was all but a forgone conclusion that many of us enjoyed the Nintendo sleep-wear set. Ah, Japanese comfort.
Just don’t hurt yourself trying to bash the bricks out of your ceiling. It is, after all, just a game.