In 2014, a subsection of the video-game playing public found themselves longing for a simpler time in gaming journalism, one that paired incisive commentary with passion and, perhaps most importantly, integrity. “Actually, it’s about ethics in gaming journalism,” they gently implored their critics, all while watching the halcyon days of the art form slip further into the rearview.
Today, however, an artifact from that peak era of gaming journalism has surfaced in this 1991 commercial for the Nintendo game Battletoads. In it, we see the guys behind “Jeff’s Video Game Review,” a show that highlighted a gonzo style of criticism that’s simply too extreme for this modern era of political correctness.
“They got psycho pigs and turbo thwackin’!” Jeff extols, while his tie-dyed cohort, Harley, lauds the game’s “kickfighting, surfing, and babe-saving.” See? Simple, clean, honest criticism, delivered from the heart without any developer’s cash (or hands) in their pockets. Sure, they love Battletoads (who wouldn’t?!), but did you hear Jeff say that Ultra Enviroman “has got to go”? Ouch. Pretty clear these guys aren’t for sale.
What they are is one of us. By emphatically crossing their arms, splaying their fingers in different directions, and bopping to an unheard beat, Jeff and Harley make it clear just how much they love playing games. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
“How could you go wrong?” Jeff asks of the viewer at the end, foreseeing a question that, years later, would take on an added, decidedly more sinister, relevance. How indeed, Jeff—how indeed!