The player knew that he or she was in for a unique gaming experience upon seeing the bizarre ads for Earthbound, which usually consisted of one or more wacky enemies, a massive green cloud of what can only be described as “fart gas,” and some sort of quip about the game’s wicked stench. For example, imagine Mondo Mole standing in a green stink cloud with the following text floating above his head: Holy Moley! Earthbound smells like unclean nocturnal creatures who live underground and play in the dirt! BUY IT NOW.
|Borrowed from Earthbound Central. Excellent site!|
Next was a picture of Master Blech, a piece of pizza nowhere to be found in-game, a semi-accurate description of the game’s plot and a coupon that said, “Cut this coupon not the cheese.” Yes, it all sounds like a generic video game ad from the mid ‘90s (Interplay's Boogerman comes to mind), until you notice a curious circle of, uh, something on one of the screenshots.
|Also borrowed from EB Central 'cause I used mine.|
“What is that odd circle thing doing on my ad?” the reader would ask predictably, and try to scratch it off. Then he or she would notice that the ad was daring them smell the little circle they just scratched. So, not wanting the ad to think they were a sissy, most people rammed their noses into it was reckless abandon. And that’s when you’d get a nosefull of stink. “Earthbound. It's like living inside your gym shoes,” the ad proudly proclaimed, as readers bolted to the window for some fresh air.
Bravo, Nintendo! You know, looking at it on paper, it all seems rather ingenious. I really have no idea why an ad campaign that literally smelled like old socks and puke was so ineffective. Perhaps there just weren’t enough references to disgusting bodily functions?
|The first three cards all dipict bosses. Also stenches.|
|I never sent this one in.|
|The bottom three cards featured Ness, the Bubble Monkey, and I guess they forgot to make a third one.|
As I discovered when I first played the game almost 15 years ago, Earthbound defiantly does not “stink” as Nintendo’s ill-fated ad campaign would have customers believe. In fact, it smells pretty good to me… literally. The real “Earthbound smell” wasn’t printed on a scratch-n-sniff card, and if you’re lucky, you can see (smell?) what I mean. First, grab your player’s guide and open it to a random page. Now stick your nose in a take a big whiff. If the fragrance of the trading cards hasn’t taken over every page in the book yet, you should have just experienced one of the best aromas in the world – that of a new SNES game. This is most difficult to come by nowadays. If only one of the scratch-n-sniff cards had smelled like that! Oh well; I guess it’s more entertaining to barricade myself in the laundry room with my nose stuck in between the pages of NES/SNES manuals, sniffing the pages like a cocaine addict, in search of that ever-elusive scent of my childhood. Maybe it’s the thrill of being caught that makes me do it. I guess I just like living dangerously.
|I NEED IT|
Too bad it didn’t do the same for sales.