Yeah yeah, I know I promised my next induction would be the continuing TNA trials of AJ Styles, but I think everyone reading this will forgive me when I lay down what we’re going to be covering tonight: unlicensed Nintendo games being shilled by Hulk Hogan…on a 1990s infomercial no less!
Ain’t no way y’all complainin’ ’bout dat!
A bit of backstory before we dive into a very murky sea of pixels. So back in the late 1980s, there was nothing bigger for gaming geeks than the ‘original’ Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In fact, for many people it quite simply WAS video gaming – if you said, “Come over and play Nintendo” everyone on the block knew exactly what you meant. The number of games that are now considered classics on the system were almost impossible to count: Super Mario Bros., Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, Mike Tyson’s Punchout, Pro Wrestling, Excitebike, RC Pro-Am, Tecmo Bowl…the list goes on and on. I promise some of you are already gearing up to read me the riot act in the comments section below for not including your favorites.
Go ahead, I can take it.
All those games I mentioned were licensed by Nintendo. Sure, Konami created Contra, but it had go through Nintendo to be released. This meant, of course, that Nintendo also got a cut on every game. To circumvent this, some companies came up with the idea to simply ignore Nintendo entirely and release games on their own. The quality of these carts ranged from “pretty good” (I’ll argue to my last breath that Tengen Tetris is a million times better than Nintendo’s own version) to “hmmmmmm” to “can this bug-riddled mess even be classified as a game?”
The biggest challenge these outsider companies had was getting their games out to the public at all. In most cases, Nintendo threatened retailers who stocked these carts with no more Nintendo games or systems at all. If you were K-Mart and had the choice of carrying Super Mario Bros. 3 or Big Nose the Caveman, there wasn’t must of a decision to be made.
To that end, these companies had to resort to entirely different tactics.
As infomercials were something of a staple in the early 1990s, it made sense that you’d see carts like these filling up empty time slots on your local station’s schedule. Now I think we can all agree that anyone with a pair of functional eyeballs could see the games shown above looked pretty subpar.
But what if…what if…
…instead of paying $50 for cartridge with a single game, you could get all those crappy games in ONE cartridge?
By golly, according to the graphic above, that’s up to $1,500 worth of games!
While the promise of hundreds of dollars worth of gaming and a spazzy finger may have enticed some to whip out their credit card, the fine folks here knew they needed something more.
So behold Hulk Hogan…bootleg Nintendo cart shillmeister!
“I’m the expert at tough challenges! Thirty games! One cartridge! What power! Intense play! Maxivision! It’s incredible dudes!”
I know a lot of wrestling fans don’t like today’s overly scripted promos and wish guys would just be given a basic idea of what to say. I’m pretty sure that’s what Hulk was given here – some points to go over, ad lib a bit, sell it as best you can.
But instead of going more in-depth, he literally just screams the bullet points as loud and fast as he possibly can!
Behold the MAXIVISION!!
And just in case you didn’t think those games looked awesome enough (did we mention there are THIRTY of them??), I want you to take a closer look at this cartridge.
I mean, it has lightning bolts and everything!
Not to be a downy clowny, but I am pretty sure that would short circuit your system!
It’s Incredible Dudes!
The shilling continues, as we are told this magnificent cartridge works on your STANDARD Nintendo system. No need to buy some new system for this – these games are all packed in there because the POWER IS IN THE CARTRIDGE!
And thus, buyers were promised “thousands of hours of challenging play” for the low low price of just $49.95.
No wait, my bad. That’s THREE PAYMENTS of $49.95…holy crap, that’s nearly $150!
Nearly THREE-HUNDRED SMACKAROOS adjusted for inflation!
I should also note that this special offer is for credit card holders only – ain’t no COD here, pal!
While I am sure what I just went over was a normal 60-second spot, we are discussing here the super deluxe infomercial version, featuring the Maxivision Power Video Challenge, complete with a live crowd, all of whom are shaking pom poms.
Because when you think video games, you naturally think pom poms!
Not only that, we get an honest to goodness announce team too!
Say hello to a man we’d know as “Maniac” Mike and his partner…
…Michael Elson! We’re told he’s one of the world’s top gamers and has been featured in all kinds of magazines, including Nintendo Power.
Trust me, kid, you ain’t gonna be welcomed back on those pages after shilling bootleg NES carts!
To the floor we go as Hulk continues his insane banter, telling us…
This is the most insane challenge I’ve ever seen! Let’s check in with the accountants!
That’s not a typo – that’s literally what the man screamed at us.
No, we didn’t get score keepers or officials or anything like that.
We got BEAN COUNTERS!
They explain to us that the Blue team has 500 points, while the white and red teams are tied at 425 points each.
Now if you’re like me, you are probably asking, “Wait, what? Is this a competition? How are these points being tabulated?” and so on and so forth.
While I can’t give you that information, I can tell you who the team captains are!
The Honky Tonk Man!
“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff!
The Birdman Koko B. Ware!
This legit may be my favorite GIF since the last time I said I had a favorite GIF. The stark contrast of Koko jumping, dancing, and gyrating while the camera spins to reveal a kid who may be in a coma is perhaps the greatest use of 3,660,059 bytes of data in the history of computing.
We are told these teams are competing in the Power Video Championship, which appears to be under the jurisdiction of the WGF. While we are never told what that stands for (or I flat out missed it, take your pick), going out on a limb and guessing the World Gaming Federation, no doubt named as such as the really stupid kids out there would think it was an offshoot of the World Wrestling Federation. Anyhoo, our first game (or I guess our 28th game as we are seven rounds deep and four games in) is Captain Comic.
Let’s have the Hulkster shill it as best he can!
Before we see anyone actually, you know, playing a game we go back to the Nintendo Power guy who tells us he loves these games because they feature incredible 3D graphics.
Can we zoom in on that one a bit?
INCREDIBLE 3D GRAPHICS!
As we finish up round seven, we head back to the accountants who tell us that the Blue Team is out in front, but it’s a super close contest!
It’s literally anyone’s game!
(But thankfully not mine, as even super game collector RD wouldn’t have spent money on this thing.)
As we head into the next round, we’re told our next fantastic title is Menace Beach. Ok, I have to give them credit there – that’s a decent pun, especially on a show featuring Hulk Hogan. Better yet, it’s a win any time you get to hear the Hulkster talk about a MALT SHOP.
Hulk then talks to the team captains, coming upon a forelorn Paul Orndorff as his team is in last place. Never one to give sympathy, Hulk ponders if he should instead be called Mr. BLUNDERFUL. This outrageous statement makes Orndorff lose his ever loving mind in a fantastic bit.
RIP Mr. #1derful. You are very missed.
Round 9 gives us Shock Wave and let me tell you, this looks like a lethal combo of boring and awful. Holy smokes this games look atrocious.
Even Hogan, who is being paid for this I should remind you, sounds like he’s ready to fall asleep.
So we take some time to see all the horrible games on the cart, and we come upon Dudes with Attitude.
Anyone remember them from WCW?
I’m pretty sure Blade was a legit card carrying member of that group. Yes, the company actually sold cards you could buy to show just how awesome you were.
I miss my hobo friend. Sigh.
Back to the accountants for a score update, as now Team Red is out front. You know, I am pretty sure this whole ‘championship’ is just something made up and there is no validity to these numbers. I sure ain’t having these guys do my taxes.
And judging by the horrified look on his face, I’m guessing he saw just how many unsold boxes of these cartridges are stuck in the warehouse.
To the lightning round we go, as the teams are competing for all the marbles with our final game, this one called Krazy Kreatures. It features a character literally burping on the title screen so you know it’s good!
Sadly you couldn’t tell that from the synopsis of it, as it sounds like Hogan is walking out the door (hopefully with a bag with $100 bills in it) as he is recording it.
Finally, the whole shindig comes to a close as the time limit it up. The announcer guy is so excited he nearly trips over the steps and twists an ankle in his microphone cord. I’d ask if it would be too much for them to reshoot that, but I sincerely doubt they had any idea there’d be nerds critiquing their bootleg video game cartridge infomercial frame by frame thirty years later.
We learn that Team Wonderful wins. It’s such a gigantic celebration that they get not one, but TWO trophies.
Shouldn’t they have gotten thirty to tie in with the cartridge?
We fade to black with Hogan shilling as best he can. Sadly, it loses a bit of its luster as Maniac Mike flatly states, “Yep…you’ve got a point there Hulk.” I don’t know I agree with him.
And so what did those kids who begged their parents to buy this pile of crap get for their $150? A cartridge with fifteen terrible games.
That’s right – when the carts actually shipped, there weren’t 30 games on there, there were a mere 15. Having seen the games in action, I am not sure that’s a plus or a minus.