Yesterday, on Throwback Thursday…lackluster video game consoles and the weird commercials that advertise them!
Pictured: An incredibly dramatic simulation of me hitting the “Publish” button.
Not really, but it is a hell of a way to get your words out there, isn’t it?
Also getting out there: brain matter and blood.
The 1980s saw the video game crash, the resurrection of the home video game market, and the advent of VCR gaming. Some of these games were great, and a wonderful teaching tool for kids. Some were add-ons to board games, and some were just…pitiful.
My parents had one of those VCR games about NFL trivia, and while that didn’t peak my interest back then (it still wouldn’t if it doesn’t involve the Giants), we still popped that video in just to watch. I also vaguely remember a Chutes and Ladders game that had a videocassette…
Childhood almost complete. Almost. I have a few other things I need to find first.
Being an archaeologist of nostalgia, a digital Indiana Jones (as a coworker called me), I love to dig deep into the world of the obscure, even if it means digging into untapped and dark doldrums of my childhood. I can picture some of the things I’ve tried looking for, but when you only have a visual image to go on, it makes things a little bit tough. Try googling a description of your visual image. I’m sure Web MD would come up as a result and tell you that you have a tumor.
That took a turn, so let’s veer back into the glow of old videocassette glory!
Anyway, in 1987, Worlds of Wonder was at the top of its game, releasing talking bears and talking girls and talking Snoopy (he talked?!), and a goose that read stories. They also released a Lazer Tag game and one of their properties was soooo popular, he even had his own cartoon. It was cute but short-lived.
They also released a dud of a video game console, if it could even be called that.
And I owned it.
That’s right – picture it, Christmas 1987. I was five years old, and my parents got me and my brother our very first video game console, World’s of Wonder’s untapped potential of a competitor to that OTHER video game console.
I’m referring to the monster known as the Action Max!
I know, try not to pee your pants from excitement. This wasn’t worth it.
I’ve covered Action Max before, both on my previous blog (Part 1 and Part 2) and as my first Retroist article. For something with such an insanely short life span (it lived and died within 1987), this proves to be very fertile ground for the nostalgia writer/blogger/video maker market. Suprisingly, this seemed like something EVERYONE seemed to have. If you just weren’t old enough for a Nintendo, this was your training wheels/rite of passage/gateway drug to the eventuality that you would own a far superior console.
1987 wasn’t your year, was it?
The Action Max was such a novel concept that really believed it was aiming (literally, it came with a light gun) for something big and attainable…and fell short despite its attempt. When it died a quick death within a year, it left only five released games (one was the pack-in). There was a sixth planned, but Worlds of Wonder filing for bankruptcy probably quashed that plan…or maybe it was just this system’s shortcomings were realized.
The commercial that promotes it really believed it had something special.
I hope they compensated that kid with something other than his own Action Max. I’d feel so bad if he got paid anything less than money. It would probably be more depressing than how the “actors” in Manos: The Hands of Fate got paid.
The little girl got a bike. Just saying. She was the lucky one.
While I could go on and on all day about the games themselves (something I really aspire to do at some point), I’m going to talk about the promotional commercials at the end of the tapes. Now, because Sonic Fury came with the console, there was no need to advertise it. But the tapes also omitted the video that was arguably the best one of the lot, Blue Thunder, and that’s only because footage of the movie was pilfered for the game itself. so was the Coca-Cola logo, but you should really watch the video itself if you’d like to find out how that happened.
Let me put it to you this way: Action Max was hot on promoting only three of their titles:
The one where you get attacked in a submarine in the 21st century…
Dig that hat on the Captain.
That dark turn of a Casper The Friendly Ghost rip-off that everyone who had this system owned…
And that shooting gallery game at some unnamed Police Academy somewhere.
For more obvious reasons, they wouldn’t advertise the game that came with the console, and well, they seemed to forget Blue Thunder was a thing. Which was a shame, because despite its obvious shortcomings, it actually was worth seeing a 30-second commercial of.
Folks, when you click play, you’re going to hear a few things (the Action Max logo intro, which screams low-budget 1980s home video glory!, and the end theme for Sonic Fury), and you’ll see the only three promos made for Action Max games.
Pain will not find you when you decide to click play, so go on, be a big boy/girl and click play.
You survived .38 Ambush Alley, submarine explosions, and the ghosts that haunt Pops Ghostly!
You’re something special, you know that right? People are going to talk about you.
I’ll pray it is positive things they speak of!
And that’s it. Quite frankly, this is the longest Flashback/Throwback article I’ve written, well, ever. Like I said, I could go on and on about this system, which says alot of something that never worked that well to begin with.
If you’d like to see the complete lineup of Action Max videos (they run under 20 minutes, which is a standard of Worlds of Wonder’s playable media)
They’re the first five videos in this playlist, which is actually a cool playlist of VHS stuff.
James and Mike Mondays covered this system in one of their videos too!
Well, thank goodness, we got through this unscathed and well, all parts intact.
You know you could have shot your eye out with that light gun, right?
Come on, do you really think that would have happened?
As always, thanks for stopping by and visiting. Have a great weekend!
Some play with power, but you prepared for ACTION!
No amount of compensation could make that tagline sound effective, trust me.