Monday, December 22, 2014

"You Don't Know Jack 3", 1997.

So as to keep up with the Joneses (you know, "in the fast lane"), I have subscribed to a handful of other sources I have found covering this tres niche beat, documenting print ads for video games. Some of them, like me, try to be a little topical, finding ads with ties to relevant current events or seasonality. Today I caught this curio in the wild:
Waitasec -- Video Game Comic Ads? That's me! And their image-only post has been liked some 70 times in a single day! I sure don't get that kind of traffic (heh: 44 views over an entire year), and I went to the foolish effort of writing several paragraphs of qualifying content to accompany the picture post! Who's the fool now? (Hint: it's me. And not just now, but rather: it was always me.)

Anyhow, that was Christmas 2013, and here's another post I started thenabouts, then realised I couldn't make happen in time for Christmas, and decided to set aside for Xmas 2014. And now here we are!

Category: A Christmas Case History

Y.D.K.J.
8769
12.25.97

Q: If Santa Claus developed a "Bipolar Disorder", how might he behave on Christmas Eve?

THINK YOU KNOW THE ANSWER? CALL
1-888-NEW-JACK
GAME #301

Yes, Virginia, there is an answer. Just dial that little number there, and we'll give you a peek at our latest edition, YOU DON'T KNOW JACK Volume 3. No cheesy salespeople, no B.S. It's just a game.

Like what you hear? Drop the phone, and pick up the CD-ROM, wherever irreverent software is sold.

I'm guessing that the intended answer to this ad's gag misinterprets the term's typical application to manic depression and instead makes some joke about flying from the North Pole to the South Pole, but it always makes me think of G.I. Joe scribe Larry Hama's 1997 (hey! the same year!) "Howard the Duck Holiday Special", in which the canard is recruited to join a corps of substitute Santas, including one straight-jacket-clad "Sanity Claus".
There's not a lot to say about this ad; the hip and sassy tone was a consummate product of its era, all attitude and no content. My guess is that the ad was intended to drive potential customers to listen to a hip and sassy voice mail message at the 1-888 number ("New Jack", there's another totally forgettable '90s reference). The ad is an empty signifier, but, to its credit, unlike most ads it's up front about it.

I do dig Santa's crooked spectacles however, implying some variety of illegal misadventure conducted by this cyclothymic Kris Kringle.)

I actually bought this game as part of a bundle in last year's Winter Steam Sale (which is, let me remind you, on now), flabbergasted that software of that vintage was being vended through the premiere online software storefront. I noted that there appeared to be overall a revival of many old properties, however brief: along with YDKJ, I noted Sword of Fargoal, Oregon Trail, and Carmen Sandiego as three properties unexpectedly springing back to life. But I did not have ads for any of those games.