The Weird & Wonderful World of Australian Video Game Commercials

Illustration for article titled The Weird & Wonderful World of Australian Video Game Commercials

Before the internet put the entire planet on the same page, there were certain nations on Earth that were a little...slower than others. Places where the latest trends would turn up late, or turn up filtered through a few different sets of hands.


Australia was one of those places.

Owing to our extreme isolation, particularly with regards to the distance between Australia and our cultural "heartlands" in the United States and Western Europe, our video game experience in the 1970s, 80's and 90's was a little different.

That's not to say we were backwards in any way. And I'm sure gamers in places like, say, Greece, or Brazil, will have know exactly what I'm talking about. We grew up with Ataris and Commodore 64s and Nintendo Entertainment Systems and Sega Master Systems and everything else you needed for a grounding in the ways of video games.

But the way the games and consoles were sold to us sometimes felt a little strange, even at the time. And feels even stranger now. Something is slightly off. It's like watching something translated from another language. Only, it's from English into...English.

Sometimes, this left us with disasters/masterpieces like this, which just didn't get what either Nintendo or the NES was about. Evil dogs? Robot partners? What the fuck?

Yet for every strangely awful ad there was a strangely entertaining one (comedian Tim Ferguson's N64 ads being particularly memorable) especially as we entered the 1990's and the people making the commercials obviously knew more about the subject matter than they had in the early 80's.


The gallery above features some of the best, worst and downright strange commercials of the pre-internet era down under.

Things are obviously vastly changed these days. Most commercials are made with international audiences in mind anyway, and those that are left for local subsidiaries to produce can be easily influenced and approved by head offices in Japan, the US and Europe.


(Big thanks to RetroGamingAustralia for most of these clips!)

FUN FACT: Australians don't pronounce "Sega" correctly. We know it's "Say-gah", it says so on title screens, but for some reason, the nation ignores this and prefers to say "See-guh".


Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

You can contact Luke Plunkett, the author of this post, at You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.


Elihu Aran

Okay, I have to ask: do Australians really say "See-ga" (Long e) instead of "Sega" (Short e)? That is bothering me to no end.