Video games have become part of many companies advertising. At one point from 1983-4, Quaker Oats was even in the game business.
According to the media research group Screen Digest, spending on in-game advertising is expected to increase to over $1 billion by 2014. Unfortunately, not all in-game advertising has been good.
Hugues Johnson is a co-host of the Retro League video game podcast. He lends his knowledge on advertising gone wrong and gives his picks for the five worst product placements in video games. Yes, all these games are real.
5. Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool
Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis, 1992
Chester Cheetah is the official mascot for Cheetos. In Too Cool to Fool, Chester Cheetah is attempting to find his missing motorcycle parts which are scattered throughout a zoo.
To regain health, you need to eat paws made out of Cheetos which are all around the level.
In cut-scenes, Chester talks in rhymes like an ’80s surfer movie, said Hugues. The instruction booklet is infamously filled with rhymes, misspelled words, typos, and bad grammar. For example, USA is written as “UCA”.
Too Cool to Fool was made in Japan but published by an American division of Kaneko, a Japanese game company.
According to Hugues, in the early ’90s American localization (translating the game so those in the US could understand it) became standard. This helped prevent translation mistakes. Too Cool to Fool failed to meet that standard.
Graphically, it wasn’t bad for its time. However, sluggish controls and slow platformer gameplay hurt the “righteous kitty from the heart of Hip City.”
4. Johnson & Johnson Tooth Protectors
Atari 2600, 1983
Tooth Protectors was only available through mail-order with Johnson & Johnson after purchasing one of their products. You play as T.P., the Tooth Protector. The goal of the game is to prevent plaque from colliding into the teeth.
“This mouth is worse than Michael Strahan in terms of gaps between teeth. Just a disaster,” said Hugues.
Each round is under a time limit. The “Snack Attack” sends down crumbs. You have to deflect the crumbs back at the Snack Attack. If you fail to deflect them, a tooth disappears. If you lose three teeth, the game is over.
Tooth Protectors is one of the rarest Atari games. Oddly, it doesn’t hold much collectible value as a title like Chase the Chuck Wagon, another Atari 2600 mail-order game which produced more copies, said Hugues.