I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time, but never quite got around to it. Nintendo-lehti, the official Finnish Nintendo magazine in 1990s, had a contest where people could submit new ideas for marketing slogans for Nintendo. The results were published in issue 3/1992, but I’m not sure if Nintendo’s importer (Funente Oy, I think?) ever used the slogans.

The winning slogans were actually pretty innocuous:

  • “Game Boy is small, but contains big adventures!”
  • “Great entertainment with a push of a button!”
  • “Keep the console hot, and your head cool!”

…but the “other slogans that the judges also liked”, that took the rest of the page, led me to believe that this was some sort of a weird badly-covered-up attempt at publishing some Humour in the magazine. This was the 1990s. You never knew if this was a sincere attempt at humour or an attempt to be deliberately cheesy.

To kick this train wreck going, I have to say that I made absolutely no attempt to properly translate the rhyming here, because I may run into danger of subtly adding a meaning to this poem, and I definitely want to keep the meanings exactly as they are:

“When you push a button in Nintendo
you might see the title screen in the screen
no matter what you play, for example, SMB 2
it definitely is from Nintendo
the famous video game.
In the game the difficulty level is average,
sound good, graphics excellent.
Of games good of combat,
of thinking and of adventure,
Zelda 2, that it is — a game good and excellent.
I hope you have a Nintendo in your home
so that you may let out a joyful screamulation.”

Okay, I had to coin that last word. How the hell else could I translate “riemuhuudanto”, which probably can’t be found in the dictionary anyway?

The biggest crime of this poem — apart of the completely incomprehensible “Of games…” part that I’m not sure makes any sense in Finnish, even — is that it describes Zelda II as having an average difficulty. Remember that game? Of course you remember Zelda II: The Kick-in-the-Teeth of Link! Okay, maybe NES games as a whole just had damn high difficulty level, so it would have been pretty average…

Besides, while game reviews in poetry form are sometimes amusing, taking poetry-format game reviews and cramming them in game advertising is a quite questionable policy. And, of course, I have to wonder why anyone would advertise anything as having “average” qualities.

“Let go of the mundane life and vanities with Nintendo. Awe-inspiring moments, challenging fights and thrilling adventures among demons. Nintendo — for people of all ages!”

For some reason, this is exactly how I picture hard-line conservative Christians advertising Nintendo games. See? It definitely can be done! What makes conservative Christians have such a strong anti-video game sentiment these days is really anyone’s guess.

“Explosively sweet video game console.”

Here we go back to the “weird 1990s mood”, and get a pretty good example of what not to do when you get the good idea of putting some contemporary colloquialisms in a phrase. Make sure it makes some damn sense if someone who doesn’t get the slang reads it.

“Nintendo games are:
Faint-inducingly Fun
Comfortably Complex
Icily Interesting
Incorrigibly Interesting
Notoriously Nice!”

This poem was a bit easier to translate accurately, and I’m happy that I could somehow translate the alliteration here. However, I have piles of scepticism reserved for poetic advertising slogans, especially alliterative ones, and definitely so for ones that stumble and wobble to make some sense.

Please don’t make advertising slogans that look like they have been Made Up. If you’re selling things, pretend you’d have to be right next to the customer to throw a sales pitch, to sell it to them in person. Advertising slogans should sound like something that you can say, and come up with, without any big conscious effort. Don’t go “Nintendo games are… um… eh… icily interesting??? Yeah, that’s pretty clever.”

“Nintendo games are the highest quality games in the world!”

As a whole, this phrase isn’t that bad, but then I started to think… who on Earth would use “high quality” as a term that describes a game or a game system? “Buy The Elder Scrolls IV: Game of the Year Edition, ensured by its publisher 2K Games to be a fully patched release that is shipped on two high-quality factory-pressed DVD-ROM discs. Not crappy DVD-Rs or anything.” This, my friends, does not sell. Consumers have to take high quality as granted, especially on consoles when patching isn’t possible.

“The joy of a rainy day is / to buy a Nintendo.”

Another one of those poetic rhyming slogans, and in this case, it just doesn’t pay to try to translate it that way. I have to object on this on the grounds that while I really like rainy days, I don’t particularly like going out to buy game systems on rainy days. The last two Nintendo systems that I bought (DS and Wii) were both bought in a rather clear and nice day. Rainy days are pretty nice to play games.