Playback: Volume 4 Feature - The Next Level

Playback: Volume 4

A look back at some memorable shills.

Article by TNL Staff (Email)
February 13th 2006, 11:20PM

Ever since Sega sold billboard space to Shell in Hang-on, gamers have been seeing subtly placed advertisement in their games. But every now and then a game goes that extra mile and becomes a pure marketing vehicle. One could perhaps argue that some of these are due to the breakout popularity of some of America's favorite advertising mascots, but until Chester Cheetah lands a picture deal or a TV series, I'm inclined to think that big grin still just wants me to eat more Cheetos-brand cheese-flavored snacks.


Pepsiman is probably the penultimate melding of commercial and video game. Whereas most ad-to-game adaptations involve constructing some kind of world or story around the character, Pepsiman strives to be little more than a playable version of the soft-drink-fueled superhero's popular 30 second TV spots, and somehow results in a game that's hard to put down. Pepsiman is a faceless metallic crusader who seeks to quench thirst wherever it might occur. His only unique talents are the ability to sprint for long distances, and make Pepsi materialize out of thin air, so that is precisely what Pepsiman's PlayStation epic is all about. Like Mr. Domino, Pepsiman never stops as he runs through streets, people's living rooms, sewers, and construction sites until he reaches those desperately in need of a crisp, refreshing Pepsi, making sure to run past no fewer than 300 or so Pepsi signs along the way. Between levels, players are treated some tasteful cut-scenes that might not have anything to do with the game, but manage to remind players that they ought to be drinking more Pepsi, already. It's sheer corporate whoredom is unsurpassed, but Pepsiman is so over-the-top, it's hard not to love.

··· Travis

Yo! Noid!

NES-era Capcom was dealing us one Wombo of a Combo with their licensed games (e.g. Duck Tales, Chip ‘n' Dale Rescue Rangers), so how sad it was when they took this rotten anchovy and proceeded to slap us in our collective faces with it. The universe of a fat monster-man in a rabbit suit with a yo-yo obsession doesn't create itself, so likely this was a normal game before being shellacked with the Yo! Noid license. But it's lousy no matter how you slice it. It's a one-hit kill game yet not an action game or a shooter; it's the typical platformer that's half skill, half memorization. So not only boring, but also difficult (and not compulsively difficult and challenging like Duck Tales). Cheap enemy placement and no checkpoints of any kind deepen the suckiness. By the time you're on the second level (in which Noid goes to a singles bar that's not only several miles above Manhattan, but also made of ice and filled with bears!), you get the feeling that the nuggets Capcom put on this slice of pie ain't sausage.

··· Alex Vo

Chex Quest

Chex Quest is a curious bit of gaming. It was the first game ever to be distributed inside boxes of breakfast cereal as a free prize, and to date, it's probably the coolest thing I've ever found filling my bowl in the morning. Since Chex lacks the beloved mascots that competitors like Cap'n Crunch and Fruit Loops boast, the developers created their own Chex-tastic character, an intergalactic marine dressed as a giant piece of cereal, known only as "Chex Warrior." The Whole-Grain Hero is sent to the planet Bazoik to rid them of the a race of mucus-based aliens known as Flemmoids. Chex attempts to maintain a non-violent premise, but since it's still a fundamentally Doom-based game, it consists of zapping baddies with a laser gun that looks like a harmless taser. When ammo runs low, Chex Warrior can dig into enemies with his trusted spoon. For some reason. Chex Quest, might be a chincy piece of nonsense stuffed into cereal boxes, but the fact that it really ends up being an enjoyable experience is a testament to just how much fun the Doom engine really is.

··· Travis Fahs

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