Friday, March 22, 2013

"Hydlide", NES, 1989.

Thanks for the seven thousand of you who've enjoyed this blog so far! (Or, the one of you who enjoyed it seven thousand times. Sir, hats off.) In celebration, I'll indicate the difference you get when you procure your video game ads from comics vs. when you go to trade publications for them.

Get all fired up...
for the Adventure
of a Lifetime
Role playing!
Action-adventure!
Password feature!
2 speed levels!
FCI
HYDLIDE

With a full name like Fujisankei Communications International, I can see why they went as FCI. I don't have a lot to say about this game: initially released on Japanese platforms in '84, after five years it made its way to the English-speakers on the NES and everyone saw this ad in comic books. But the comics readers were missing out, because it turns out the ad was just a pale interpretation of the game's cover artwork, which is exactly the same -- only greater in every regard:
It's a bit surprising that the comics ads were so much shoddier, since you could assume that a game magazine would be mostly print with some spot illustrations while a comic would be primarily pictures on every page. Wouldn't the quality of the artwork reproduction then take precedence? It turns out, no: consumers would pay low comics prices for minimalist art and higher prices for specialty magazines. It's impressive how much the comic ad retains (eg. identical text, despite dropping the screen shots... though I still wish marketers touting "role playing/action-adventure" would make up their mind) -- what you get there is kind of a rendition of the box art at 40 paces. All the salient details are present, just all simplified -- and perhaps rendered more in a comic book art style? This would be pure speculation on my part.

It's just striking: gee whiz, for being similar, those ads are quite different. But for being different, they're quite similar. Typically I'd imagine an ad campaign requiring two different images for different print qualities would just run two fundamentally different ads, but not so for FCI.