Tuesday, April 28, 2009

AdVantage Point: Catwoman (2004)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games.
This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations, advertisements.

From games crossing over in to comics [ie; Mirror's Edge], we move to the other side of the corporate licensing relationship - the tie-in game. The upcoming Wolverine release (in conjunction with X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has prompted a whole lot of huffing and puffing about games licensed from film releases.

For one reason or another, industries with large groups of fans seem to be particularly good at spreading ill conceived rumours. In the case of license derivative games vs series native to the medium, there's certainly a compelling argument to say the former doesn't produce as exciting results as the latter. Does that result make a rule of thumb? Of course not.

Catwoman kinda represents the bottom of the conceptual barrel.
Consider it irony that I'm using this particular advert in a discussion that's intended to be confrontingly positive. In fact, I might even admit that it requires some level of naivety to rebuke popular theories such as this one. The evidence for cross-promotional franchise games resulting in anything but a steaming ball of infamy, is pretty overwhelming. Particularly if one stretches oneself to consider the endless glut of games not readily available in a favourable lexicon. Games dwelling deep within the bowels of retail, residing at the bottoms of bargain store bins, and post offices.

"Catwoman", as a film first, represents the extreme negatives of borrowed source materials.
Brand association ultimately undermines much of the project as it deviates wildly from a character who, at the time, sustained one of the most acclaimed on-going superhero series on shelves.
This was a character who should have represented great strength and intrigue, but instead, devolved into silliness as nauseating camera whips gave way to a macrocosmic expansion of an utterly underwhelming tale of insincere empowerment through corporate neo-fascist perfume hazed crud. Far from anything Darwyn Cooke, Ed Brubaker, or Cameron Stewart energized.

Such deviations should hold importance to the gaming industry, which, through it's large fanbase, has in many ways forgotten it's value as a story-driven medium. The attraction for a gamer like me will always be the same sorts of things that attract me to comics and films. The three mediums all share much in common, despite any resistances expressed by the uninspired masses who will at times proclaim one product transcends the prospects of adaptation in other fields [a fact thankfully and publicly refuted by the  Watchmen film, despite it's problems].

A great strength film or comics properties should immediately bring with them is a rich tapestry of characters, locations, and plot points. They are the ultimate antithesis of the generic grey gloom that hangs over gaming's popular genres today, possessing decades of experience and characterization, which should ooze from every polygonal pixelated orifice.

With such a thorough conceptual foundation, superheroes in particular lend themselves to a video game setting. From the earliest traditions of hero-based gaming, there has been a brotherly love between the mediums of gaming and superhero comics. Be it the ability to jump, punch, or fly through strange environments, it's all always been superheroes. That relationship was very literally solidified in the very early days of this young medium called "video games."

While AdVantage Point hasn't deviated so far back, commercial advertising of games in comics began a long time ago, in issues far far away. The 1980s saw ideas sent both ways, advertising in comics, and games like early Spider-man adventures, on home computers.

Unfortunately, it's this maturity and experience that appears to be lacking in Wolverine.
Unlike Catwoman, this conversion of character doesn't appear to suffer from the same wild deviations. Instead, much like the recent  Chun-Li film, the issue here is of under representation, rather than "mis-."

Instead of taking full control of the vast forty-year history surrounding the X-Men universe, and the thirty years of Wolverine; this game dwells on more contemporary conventional concerns. Game mechanics lending themselves to the bloodthirsty nature of the character have overwhelmed a property that should have done exactly that, with the motivation of vivid visuals and a sense of informed knowing.

As the gaming industry matures as a business, we see the increasing dominance of sequels and serialized series. As this seeming inevitability continues, the wisdom of a seventy-year old medium like comics becomes increasingly relevant. While gaming dwells on the distractions of improving technologies, the obselence of this obsession draws ever nearer, evident not only in the peaking technologies of consoles like Xbox and Playstation, but also the redundancy delivered by the public's resounding approval of Nintendo's Wii, which is graphically far inferior.

Looking to a lasting model of gaming, the power of the sequential adventure, and the serialized experience gamers can have alongside powerful characters, becomes the obvious way forward for companies intent on controlling their properties. Even in the futuristic event of an industry-wide adoption of MMO strategies, the user-generated experience has the potential to lull into the grinding formula that detaches many mainstream gamers (such as myself) from games like World of Warcraft. Instead, it's the serialized contributions, such as events contrived in Matrix Online, that propose a far more intriguing benefit. A benefit that boils gaming back down to it's traditional elements of the possibility to interact with fantastical scenarios, characters, and universes.

I'm dismayed by the current trend, particularly amongst younger gamers, to desire the omission of plot.
Even if that desire is a slight misconception.

As X-Men Origins: Wolverine passes us by, we now look forward on the comics tie-in calendar, toward Batman: Arkham Asylum, which promises a script by popular comics/TV writer, Paul Dini.
Sharing it's name with the acclaimed Grant Morrison "graphic novel," and starring a character whose greatest exploits have easily rivalled the much-praised Watchmen, this should be not only the ultimate outing for the Dark Knight Detective in games, but also a bold step forward in representing not only strong foundations in gameplay, but also conceptual adaptation and storytelling.

To the Catwoman ad featured -- it's actually not bad.
Far exceeding anything in the film, the commercial suffers the same obscenities of that costume and Halle Berry's most ferret-faced moment, but -- the black on white poses a graphic statement I myself am quite fond of. Not only that, but the game also offers something resembling in-game screenshots - always appreciated.

From this dark public moment in licensing history, we've derived a generally positive statement.
Sure, it's easy to sit and make snide remarks about the atrocities of film, comics, and gaming, but I've tried to avoid that today in an effort to refute the canonized theory that these games must be bad. Any game, comic, or film is just as capable of being a masterpiece as any other. There may be tools available to each that set the mediums apart, but anything one can do, the other can do just as well.

I'd like to think one day, when this is popularized, we won't have to deal with the underwhelming prospects of adaptations and licensed products that fail to invest in what made them viable properties to begin with. Unfortunately, both sides of the corporate system will need changes of minds to make that happen.

Fingers crossed for the future!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

AdVantage Point: Mirror's Edge (2008)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games.
This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations, advertisements.

From a series of games promoting established brands with anticipated install bases, to one of the most exciting new properties to emerge from this generation of consoles. Mirror's Edge marks one of the glaring downsides to being a gamer not ready to invest in a current console.

In the comics direct market, the presence of licensed video game properties continues to grow.
Prominent series exist for Street Fighter, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Halo, World of Warcraft, and several others, including the exciting parkour future shock that Mirror's Edge represents.
The six issue series is published by DC imprint (subsidiary), Wildstorm, who are not connected to the famous DCU icons. With cartoon stylized artwork by Matthew Dow Smith, the action is overseen by writer from the game, Rhianna Pratchett, who has also worked on a handful of other game titles.

With this in mind, it's probably not surprising to learn that this double page advert comes from a DC comic book. I'm not entirely sure that the game hasn't been advertised by rival publishers, but you can assume that the presence of this dynamic double-page spread is the benefit of a deal between the cross promotional brands, playing in to the use of the license.

It's a great advert!
In stark contrast to the advertisement for TNA Impact! that focused on reiterating the personalities associated with the brand; Mirror's Edge offers something far more specific to the game itself.

Like most contemporary adverts, it lacks any kind of screenshot to preview the game, but by utilizing the same stunning CG featured in cover art for the game, we get a stylish image that does actually communicate most of what we need to know. The parkour-style running gameplay is pretty easily expressed through the dynamic image of lead-protagonist, Faith Connors, skirting the edge of a building, while enemies from the game appear across the two page expanse.

Really significant to the game itself, as well as it's promotion, are the clean lines, and ultra-modern stark colour palette that make Mirror's Edge instantly recognisable. It's a visual design sense that creates a brand for the game, consistent throughout all aspects, including the character, who is best glimpsed as legs and arms in the shifting aspect of the first-person view.
It's an aesthetic that speaks to a gamer like me, who really misses the Euro modern techno-pop aspects of the Playstation era. It's the kind of game that shares that immersive level of cool that the Wipeout series had, as much fun to experience and observe, as it is to play.

Of the six adverts featured so far in these laboured almost-daily features, this is probably my favourite.
As interesting as some of the others might be, this strikes me as the perfect balance between communication of the product, composition of the image, and sheer dynamism. Flipping through the pages of inked and coloured comic book artwork, this blindingly stark image with it's vivid reds pops exactly the way the game does. Everything you need to know to inform a purchase, is there.

The only regrets I have regarding Mirror's Edge are that this couldn't have been secured as a Sony-exclusive title that reinvigorated the Playstation brand and attitude. That, and that I don't have any of the currently available consoles (or a viable PC) to play this.

Has the cross-promotion of video games into comics paid any dividends?
Honestly, I don't know. There's been a suggestion that UDON's efforts with Street Fighter have found a market outside the direct comics business, but I don't know how accurate that is. Looking around 1up as I do occasionally, I certainly haven't encountered any awareness about these kinds of tie-ins, aside from occasional references in discussions about franchises.

Original Post: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8986737

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

AdVantage Point: TNA Impact! (2008)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games.
This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations, advertisements.

Yesterday's entry, (featuring Halo Wars), glanced the subject of advantageous ambiguity in advertising. Looking back, it strikes me that all of the adverts we've featured, so far, have had one aesthetic commonality: they're all advertising brands assured a largely familiarized audience.

TNA Impact! marked the first video game entry for prowrestling's current number-two promotion.
Much like Halo Wars; Impact! does very little to indicate the qualities of the game in the print advertisement, instead emphasizing the personality of the brand, while also using the space to promote the shows the game is based on. Given TNA's prospective budget, it's not a bad idea to try to juggle as many objectives as possible, but is it really doing the job?

It's popular belief that some advertising needn't necessarily sell a product, but rather, simply keep it in the conscious and subconscious mindspace of consumers. Regular reiteration through strong advertising almost certainly has an effect on a potential buyer. If the brand is already in the frame of reference of the consumer, they're sure to subconsciously recognise brand association. If any TNA fan wasn't already aware of the game, then featuring three of the franchise's biggest stars; Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe; is sure to remind them during respective appearances.

Obviously the star appeal of headlining talent goes beyond those already familiar with it.
Kurt Angle shot to stardom after his 2000 debut in WWE, becoming one of the most decorated champions the company has ever known. The Olympic Gold Medallist shocked the industry when, in 2006, he left World Wrestling Entertainment, only to defect to their nearest rival, bringing with him one of the most recognised names in the business. It's not a terribly complex principle, then, when TNA promote the Kurt Angle brand, building their own association while perhaps luring fans from across the pond. The concept of association was there when Angle was first recruited by WWE, and now passes to TNA, and their new game.

A lot of fuss has been made about the Nintendo Wii's expansion of the gaming market.
While impressive, this does reemphasise the point that conventional gaming, and licensed material, is valuable for it's captive audience. Penetration into broader markets is highly unlikely, which is why very little time might be wasted on soft selling to new markets. Again, this is an advert directed at people who already know it's meaning, and that is why it's most striking elements are relatively unexplained.

Impact! follows on from a long tradition of prowrestling video games.
For a medium built on testosterone and competition, it's hardly surprising that interactive power fantasies have proved popular with it's audience. A resurgence of popularity in the late nineties saw wrestling capitalize on expanding technologies in gaming and online networking. Wrestling remains one of the most prevalent subjects on the internet, and the video games have contributed strongly, birthing an expansive and fiercely loyal niche market of gamers. "Create-A-Wrestler" formulas have to be one of the strongest examples of user-generated material in games, popularized in the late nineties by WWF: Warzone, it's sequel, WWF: Attitude, and a series of games released on the Nintendo 64, including cult favourite, No Mercy.

The Smackdown! series of games, originally exclusive to Playstation, have become the brand to beat. TNA Impact! goes up against the latest in the series of annual instalments, now featured across several platforms as Smackdown! vs RAW.

For the game itself, TNA Impact! attempts to rise to the challenge.
Innovative and popular talent, AJ Styles, was promoted as a prominent contributor to the mechanics and concepts of the game. TNA's unique match types and in-ring conceits are recreated for the game, along with all the visual trimmings that make prowrestling the spectacle of sports entertainment that it is. Unfortunately, Styles's influence can only inspire so much in the fairly mediocre game engine, however.

Given the business direction Midway has taken over the past six months, it seems increasingly likely that Impact! might gain infamy as one of the company's last productions. On the flipside, the footnote in wrestling will hopefully be a little more positive for the game's introduction of a new wrestling gimmick -- Suicide!

Despite channelling superheroes in the most hokey of ways, the skull-faced vigilante wrestler made the transition from in-game storyline, to life, bursting into TNA on a flying fox from the ceiling. Suicide's identity, for the time being, remains a mystery, but his unique role in the TNA Impact! game has to be one of the most admirable risks taken by both parties. Capitalizing on TNA's more receptive audience to a puroresu style clashed with US prowrestling drama, it's a fun concept that brings something to both sides of the licensing agreement.

TNA fans are bound to be very forgiving of the fairly uninspired track the game goes down.
This in itself could be another reason not to try to promote the in-game material, as much as pushing the brand of TNA, and it's cult of personality.

Monday, April 20, 2009

AdVantage Point: Halo Wars (2009)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games.
This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations.

If memory serves me, on the 04/17 episode of ListenUp [aka; 4 guys 1up] the lads turned their attentions to promotion of Halo Wars with the inference being, unwitting consumers might be lured in by the ambiguity of reference to the game's RTS format. I found this particularly interesting because, as you might have noticed, these types of games have very little to do with me.
I'm the type of "gamer" nobody seems to be talking about in the battle of casual VS hardcore. The one who still doesn't know which console is for him. The one who got left behind.

I don't really see the attraction in the endless line-up of shooting games that seem to typify the modern gamer and the Xbox 360. If everyone were like me, the PS3 would probably have found it's market place with another round of tried and true exclusives, and the Xbox would be sold almost exclusively to rednecks enthused by a newly designed union flag motif.

I'm going to be honest -- I don't really know what Halo is.
I mean, sure, I get the gist of it. There are marine looking blokes, some of whom apparently have names and bad ass machismo, and they use their 'tude to fight aliens in a sci-fi setting. I know there are guns involved, I know multi-player is embarrassingly popular, I know it can be played alone, I know Brian Bendis can be a mediocre writer, and I know some of my friends keep insisting it's the greatest game in the universe.

Rather than expand my basic knowledge with a few clicks toward YouTube, I thought I'd maintain my ignorance long enough to share it with you in this contrived manner. Why? Because there can be no better acid test than a man who knows very little.

Like most shooting franchises these days, the aesthetics of Halo appear pretty standard.
I don't doubt that the specifics of every corner and bulge communicate something thrilling and familiar to the seasoned Halo fan, but for me, it's enough to indicate the basic premise of the series.
I believe the artwork featured is also the cover of the game, which is important to note, because it's the final piece of information offered to any casual acquaintance picking it up off the shelf.

Something that strikes me immediately about this advert is the multiplication of "units."
The depth of the image and the alignment of the hero characters communicates something very specific. It isn't artful enough to be set dressing. This is an image immediately alluding to the fact that this isn't a one-man quest in a larger world, but rather, a game of many. If I didn't know an RTS, I might not be immediately receptive to that, but the allusion is there, none the less.

In terms of marketing, the text in the advert also helps communicate the significance of various types of soldiers, which, I assume, do not have such vital distinction in the FPS instalments.

Listening to the quotes on ListenUp while I'm writing this, I have to at least acknowledge that the reference seems more to be tilted toward a deliberate ambiguity in the promotion. In that respect, it's also worth acknowledging the potential ambiguity of the information communicated. At the end of the day, websites like this, and the promotion of popular series, usually provide enthusiasts with enough information to make informed decisions.

Me? I couldn't give a crap about Halo. Wars, or otherwise.
However, if someone possessing my level of disinterest and ignorance can know what to expect from Halo Wars, I think it's safe to say most purchases listed were well informed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

AdVantage Point: Dragonball Evolution (2009)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games. This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations.

A non-descript dictionary defines "evolution" as; Any gradual process of growth or development.
You and I, without any predilection toward polite accuracy, would probably refer to those "developments" as improvements over the last generation. In this respect, the long awaited foray into live-action for Akira Toriyama's popular manga/anime series, Dragonball, has been unfortunately named.

Without a shred of discernible irony, Namco-Bandai wheel out the latest revision to their long running Dragonball [Z] fighting spin-offs, suffering two-fold for the Evolution title.
The PSP exclusive deserves perspective for the limitations of the device, but inevitably suffers the same ironies as the film. One can't help but think back to the farcical digitized era of the mid-nineties, where incestuous cross-promotion like this might've at least been in the company of similarly stupid stunts, ala; Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game.

As the 2000's reach their conclusion, Dragonball fanboys have a multitude of iterations on the Budokai series to satisfy all their fighting fanboy needs. Only the clinically obsessed of fanboy completists will feel compelled to round out their collection with this release. Paling in comparison to any of it's more canonically faithful predecessors, DB Evolution appears to be a moderately decent PSP fighter without even the quantifying trimmings that make each Budokai revision vaguely plausible. Also absent, of course, is the simple stylistic flair of the Toriyama style, or the variations of flashing energy and lights that made the fighter unique.

Obviously, the target of any movie tie-in game is to capitalize on the success of the film.
Kids in particular are likely to want to jump deep into their realm of familiarity. However, in the case of Dragonball Evolution, one wonders if marrying the contractual obligations with something more familiar to the hardcore audience, might not have been a wise move.
A contemporary reference might be the popular X-Men and Wolverine games that spun out of that movie dynasty, capitalizing on decades of continuity to attract nugget-seeking fans.

Of course, when it comes to the less narratively driven exploits of fighting games, those fan luring easter eggs leave you with a predicament similar to the Budokai franchise.
The comics franchises have done well to progress their instalments with what resembles a new plot for each game, but in the fiercely dedicated arena of Dragonball fandom, the Budokai series has embarked on a periodical process of refinement, releasing much the same game each time, albeit with incrementalized additions of obscure characters, and tweaked skills.

Street Fighter IV inspired a resurgence of interest in the classic franchise, but in it's execution, it largely reverted alterations made in the 1997 SFIII, returning to a more classic approach. Sure, it's an effective and intelligent decision, but lives or dies by the decade gap between the last version of SFIII (Third Strike in 1999), and the excitement of rediscovering a tweaked classic.

DBE might be the first substantial deviation for the fight franchise in quite some time, but I'm not sure there's reason to care. After yesterday's lamenting upon the death of Midway and the poor reputation of Mortal Kombat, I think we can all agree, this is something much worse. Even with the lure of playing as a Hawaiian shirted Chow Yun Fat!

Friday, April 17, 2009

AdVantage Point: Mortal Kombat II (1994)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games. This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations.

You know you're in trouble when suddenly you have to actually mention your games by name in order to promote them. My, how the mighty have fallen.

Midway's financial woes have become a very public battle, but in today's ad feature, we look back to an era of decadence when both the troubled gaming publisher, and the comic book industry as a whole, were at their financial heights.

I equate being a Mortal Kombat fan to very similar to supporting the local team while they're at the bottom of the ladder. As a fan, I know their strengths and potential better than anyone, but as we suffer the indignity of each defeat, I gradually become one their greatest critics.

Unsophisticated fighting techniques and the recurring naff of simplistic designs has earned the Mortal Kombat series it's fair share of dismissal by critics, but if it comes down to it, I hope Midway can negotiate the sale of the IP to a company that will nurture and accept the established canon of this misunderstood 1990's dinosaur.

Behind the sound and fury of idiots throwing spears and fireballs at each other, is a beat 'em up with a soul worth stealing. As Tekken and Street Fighter roll out their latest instalments in the saga of sunsets and proposing sumo wrestlers, Mortal Kombat waits eagerly to follow up on the apocalyptic cliff-hanger of it's last game in the core series, Armageddon.
While fans close to the series have been critical of Armageddon's inconclusive ending(s), it's fair to say most complaints stem from the sheer volume of possibilities that are left open following the game's narratively driven action-adventure mode ("Konquest").

As a small time comics writer, I often regard MK with envious eyes, salivating at the prospect of getting the opportunity to tell a streamlined sequential interpretation of their saga. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, despite having an endless supply of nuggets of story, the games do continuously fail to live up to themes of characterization, concept, and design.
Sharing much in common with the sequential nature of their comic book counterparts (who they tackled in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe), the MK characters are established enough to make most blunders forgiveable, but the untapped potential of the brand's long running universe is one of the most concerning aspects of their repeat filrtations with mediocrity.

The heady days of Mortal Kombat II -- the game actually being advertised in the feature page -- are long gone. The step up from the digitized 1992 arcade beat' em up, to it's 1993 sequel, was significant. The MK style was arguably defined in this sequel, taking it away from it's Enter the Dragon-inspired Hong Kong aesthetic, to develop something much more garrish and harmful. Ever more elaborate ways to impale and compress enemies against nearby furnishings emerged from the sequel as everything started getting very purple and alien. The first game's popular martial arts archetypes were quickly joined by bizarre newbies like; Mileena, Baraka, Kintaro, and Shao Kahn, while the originals enjoyed feature tweaks that played up their sinister characters and backstory.

For many, the excitement of the atmospheric fantasy makeover for the franchise remains it's most glorious moment. Alongside 2002's reintroduction of the series, Deadly Alliance, it is arguably the most significant inclusion from a developing conceptual concern.

The popularity of the series and excitement of it's iconic evolution no doubt made it's transition to consoles all the easier to promote. With a year behind them, and the establishment of MKII's attract title screen in arcades, the use of little more than lightning, was probably enough to whip bloodlusting youngsters into an absolute frenzy. I know I was there, mashing buttons on the Genesis as I bought into a fiction ready to rival my favourite superheroes (who themselves were going through a violently stupid stage, at the time).

New rumors of the MK team breaking away from Midway to resume activity elsewhere, makes for a compelling case for a Mortal Kombat sale. It's hard to imagine talking about the series without expecting the same in-game approach and laboured promotion by series co-creator, Ed Boon.

At the first sign of trouble, I have to admit, I felt a little bit excited about the prospect of change.
With Itagaki floating formless in the ether, I can't help but imagine the possibilities as I reference various famous comic book reinventions perpetrated by similarly notorious figures who got a hold of franchise icons (see; Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, etc). What might a Japanese developer, particularly one of Itagaki's style, do with the relatively conventional series? For that matter, what about a buy-out by Tecmo? As a barely discussed implausibility, I kinda like imagining a Ninja Gaiden co-op starring Ryu Hayabusa and Scorpion against the invading forces of Outworld. Or how about an MK with decent fighting styles that seem relevant to their characters? One can dream!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

AdVantage Point: Street Fighter IV (2009)

Give an idiot a scanner and a comic book, and let him to pick out all the advertisements for video games. This is AdVantage Point -- a chance to document the winding timeline of comics/gaming history as it was canonized by the adverts. Musings, rantings, observations.

This quite possibly might be one of the stupidest ideas to hit the 1up.blogs - adverts.
I suppose the beauty of a concept like this, however, is the timeline it will eventually show. Like the sequential medium of comics itself, these advertisements become a timeline of history.

With no real affection for most games currently being advertised, I figured it fitting to start with one of the revival heavyweights. I'd like to say Street Fighter II was right there back at the dawn of capitalism, paving a way for video game advertisements in comics, but let's face it. They'd been around a good decade before that!

It's been great having the Street Fighter franchise active again, not that it ever really went away.
This ad kinda brings back those warm tingly feelings of the early nineties, and I'm sure the neon pink doesn't go completely without credit, for that.

Like most ads, this one sells an established brand, without dwelling too much on the details.
Most of us probably already know enough to decide whether or not we're interested in buying a new Street Fighter, so presumably, it's about awareness and market presence. That said, this has to be one of the very few adverts I've encountered recently that actually goes to the trouble of including screenshots from the actual game. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but that seems like a good idea, to me.

With Street Fighter IV, the visual style of the game was an important selling point. These screens probably don't communicate it's delicate balance between the 2D animation style classic to the series, and it's new 3D potential, but they at least allude to something familiar as well as something new (ie; the hadouken dramatic camera).

I wonder if the appearance of Honda and the bold slogan don't communicate a secondary message to those receptive. For the average reader, the emphasis of Hadouken in the bold statement is enough of a nostalgia grab to warrant attention and reminiscing, but for those many invested in gameplay, it perhaps hints at the developments that have been made in the fight system since the hadouken-squashing Street Fighter III.

It's a little surprising not to see big selling icons like Chun-Li, Guile, and Ken in the advert, but Ryu's probably adequate enough to represent that public face of the series. I'm reminded of the countless discussions about both feature films (1994/2009) and the constant call for Ryu. Honestly, I don't think the wandering world warrior is really that intrinsically significant to any creative endeavour with the franchise, but we haven't exactly had the best opportunity to test that theory.

Interestingly enough, this advert hasn't appeared in UDON's licensed series of comics.
Their role in creating a series that fleshes out the backstory of Street Fighter IV and it's new characters is arguably advertisment enough, and you needn't really try to sell to the audience who's clearly already invested in the brand. I guess you just get used to a complacency of "synergic" association in marketing.

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Original Post: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8986141

And Now a Message From the Sponsors...

When I signed up on 1up.com as an avid listener of the podcasts, I'm sure I had some ill conceived notion that I would spontaneously spark an interest in modern games, and start blogging profusely. Alas, with perhaps the rare exception of the odd elaborate insult to the current industry and fanbase, I've done little of that. Instead, most of my posts redirect you toward other venues, where I can be found taking superheroes seriously and generally phoning it in.

I recently noticed that, despite my inactivity, a modest flow of folk were hitting this here blog.
I don't know how, or why, you found your way here, but I have an overwhelming urge to try to make it worth your while, despite my being a total slack and uninspired bastard.

If you've been here before, you probably know me as a comic guy. Fair enough.
You can, after all, find my pseudo-superheros-sports blog at http://secretearths.blogspot.com, and buy my modest writing at http://www.nitelitetheatre.com. The question is, why should any of that even matter to you, the 1up.com reader?

The obvious pop culture significance of superheroes aside, there has to be more. More. More!

Unfortunately, there isn't, so instead of coming up with something really interesting, I thought I'd at least fill the void with some overlapping. Comics and video games do occupy a similar space. The same kinds of people find the same kinds of interests, and so, there's a happy tradition of cross pollonation between the seasoned statesman of the comics industry, and active power fantasy of the video gaming experience, which becomes a sequential format the more it ages.

If I was going to use up UGO's newly acquired webspace with the picture feature, I wanted to have a motivated reason. Thus, in merging my interests, I thought I might share with you some of the adverts that have come to populate the landscape of comic books.

With the death of iconic print rags like EGM, it strikes me that many interested readers might never get to see this facet of the advertising strategum. Honestly, before I considered doing this, I hadn't really noticed just how many gaming adverts there still are! I've already got a nice stack of 2008 and 2009 commercials to share with you, albeit, mostly revolving around bland shooting games I personally couldn't give a rats arse about.

The scanning process has already thrown up it's first intriguing tidbit.
Whilst surveying issues from the past few months, I was surprised to find that it was DC comics who had a far greater share of gaming adverts, dominating the barren House of Ideas. One can note theories of vocational relevance that would explain the loyalties of one related brand, to another, but that might be reading in to it a little bit much.

Never the less, I hope you, the reader, will come to enjoy subsequent features of adverts, and enter a suggestable mindset that will allow me to milk you for sales of my comic(s).

Stay tuned!

Original Post: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8986134