A History Of Video Game Mudslinging

by O'Dell Harmon on Nov 06, 2012 at 10:00 AM

It’s Election Day. After months of campaigning and taking shots at the other guy, politicians hope their efforts have not been in vain as you elect a candidate into office.  That got me thinking. In the golden days of gaming when Sega and Nintendo were fierce rivals, games were not afraid to blatantly call out the competitors just to win your affection. Companies and games still do it today, but it seems that the times have made them softer than they used to be. So, in honor of the grand ‘ole freedom of choice, and the right to bash the competition, here is a look at game mudslinging. 

The Heyday 

It’s no secret that Sega and Nintendo use to be at each other throats. Just in case you didn’t know, here is a little example.

Sega showed Nintendo what Genesis does! This was just a small example of gaming propaganda and the lengths companies were willing to go. Even the boxes themselves were filled with it. 

Psycho Fox for the Master System proudly boasted, “Are you bored of being a valiant prince who saves a lovely princess? Are you sick and tired of dungeons and ‘mother brain’? Do you deliberately stay away from games in which you have to fight as a knight in shining armor?”, simultaneously attacking every Nintendo franchise, but don’t think Nintendo stayed silent. 

Taking the high road approach Nintendo fired back with a simple retort. Plus when lightning strikes the words “super power” you know you’re in trouble. Also, it’s got hunk power in the form of a young Paul Rudd.

There was so much back and forth that some commercials where even lost in time and didn’t show up until recently. 

The New Frontier 

After the transition into 3D and some bad blood between Nintendo and Sony, there were some new consoles on the market. You’d think that, with the evolution of gaming, the old mudslinging would stop, but they got more elaborate. Nothing says competition like a bandicoot showing up to your office building with a megaphone. 

Keeping things classy was not a top priority among game companies. When mocking the name of a system isn’t enough, you should just drop it off a building.

Nintendo chose to take the kidnaping, torture, sympathy, and educational approach. Because in politics and gaming there is no better, or preposterous, strategy than showing how “evil” your competition is. 

The Big Three 

I’m not sure why things always had to end in violence. I’m surprised people didn’t have console riots in the streets with gaming related tattoos across their backs. The next generation saw the fall of Sega, and a new era of competition between Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft. In this new gaming landscape, we saw a shift in strategy: game companies making bold claims while belittling others at press conferences just like real politicians and more title versus title slander. 

Calling out games for being too soft became the norm for a while, but now hard hitting titles like Call of Duty and Battlefield are going at it.

These all had the spirit of the Heyday but not the same hard hitting attacks. Only if Kevin Butler would come and viscously call out Nintendo and Microsoft, oh that’s right! He did. 

As you go out and vote today, remember your favorite games and consoles and the lengths they went to earn your loyalty and trust. As this generation closes and the next political seasons of consoles start, I plan to see more shots fired, gaming rivalry, and companies pushing the boundaries because we can’t move forward without a little unfriendly competition.