In 1994, Nintendo Power sent an exclusive VHS tape and Betamax tape to many subscribers of their magazine. The tape, titled "Donkey Kong Country Exposed", was 15 minutes long and featured interviews (conducted by an uncredited Joshua Wolfe), game tips, and general hype towards Nintendo and Rare's soon-to-be Killer App, Donkey Kong Country. Needless to say, the tape worked, and Donkey Kong Country was the smash hit of the 1994 Christmas season.
But the story doesn't end there. 1995 brought us "A Journey Through Yoshi's Island", a second VHS Nintendo Power tape. Focusing on Yoshi's Island, the video followed the general style of the Donkey Kong Country video, complete with Josh Wolf in a similar role. Unlike the Donkey Kong Country video, however, this tape was six minutes long. Notably, towards the end of the video there there was a brief clip of the final boss battle of the game.
Also released in 1995 was a third tape, The Invasion of Nintendo, which focused on Yoshi's Island, Super Mario RPG, and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest. This video had a strange plot about a Big Brother-esque entity and his minions raiding Nintendo game tester rooms and demanding info on the latest games. It was... weird.
In 1996, a fourth VHS tape by Nintendo Power was released, entitled "Change the System". This one promoted the upcoming Nintendo 64, and specifically featured three launch games: Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Shadows of the Empire. The gimmick of this video was that three hardcore gamers (David Checel, Steve Greaves, and Brian O'Rourke) were invited to Nintendo headquarters to get glimpses at the new system; Ken Lobb presented Mario 64, Armond Williams presented Pilotwings 64, and Henry Sterchi presented Empire (all three Nintendo staff members had previously been featured in the first three promo videos). The end of the video featured the first instance of the "coming soon" montage, where numerous upcoming games are displayed in rapid succession to a piece of music. Speaking of music, this video is notable for its soundtrack, with alternative bands' songs featured in the background. (Side note: Germany got a similar promo video titled "Nintendo 64: The Next Dimension of Fun". Some differences, however: The three gamers were absent, there were different gameplay footage clips, it was over ten minutes longer, and featured Wave Race 64 instead of Shadows of the Empire.)
With the fifth video, Nintendo decided to focus on one game again, and Star Fox 64 was chosen for the treatment. The tone of this video was completely different; while the "Exposed", "Journey" and "Change" tapes had bits of humor, the Star Fox 64 video went all out on campy execution and over-the-top acting. There was even a plot, so to speak: Two thugs from Sony and Sega kidnap a Nintendo employee named Peter, and interrogate him on a certain upcoming game for Nintendo 64. Peter initially refuses, but gives in when the Sony and Sega guy torture a Mario doll by cranking its head in a vice; after sharing some gameplay footage of Star Fox 64, Peter accidentally lets it slip that Bob would kill him if he told them any more. Sony and Sega visit this Bob, disguised as pizza men, and drug him with knock-out gas. Back in the chamber, Bob accidentally mentions "the Rumble Pak"; after torturing the Mario doll again (this time, by hooking it up to a battery table), Bob indulges on the details. As the Rumble Pak was the first controller to feature force feedback, this was debatably the highlight of the video. Finally, Bob, Peter, Sony, and Sega compete in the game's four player mode; after whupping their butts, Bob and Peter leave, but not before teasing the duo with the Star Fox 64 player's guide. He doesn't let them have it, though: "You can buy it at the store."
The comedic slant to the promo videos continued in late 1997 with "Hot Topic", a video focused on Diddy Kong Racing. This time, the format was that of a newscast, with host Trent Tillman interviewing various correspondents in the field (a couple have punny names like Dent Chassis) about the game. In other words, they're all acting like Diddy and co. are real people. The video had a distinctive '70s feel for some reason, from the fashion to the decor. Frustratingly, as with the Star Fox 64 video, no credits are featured at the end, meaning the cast and crew info is seemingly lost to time.
Apparently deciding that it's a lot of work to direct actors, the next video, released in 1998, didn't feature any on-camera talent and instead was just video game footage accompanied by narration and music. This video, about Banjo-Kazooie, was narrated by Jon Lovitz and matter-of-factly stated the content in the game, from the story to the power-ups/collectibles to the levels (in order of appearance). It was a simple video but it got the job done, and featured the most gameplay footage out of any of the Nintendo videos (obviously, due to not having anybody to cut back to).
A video exclusively for sports game fans was also released in 1998, and featured Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr., 1080° Snowboarding, and NBA Courtside.
In late 1998, another video was released. This one covered both the Pokémon video games and the (then) upcoming Pokémon series, which was about to debut in America. This featured multiple live-action actors as characters with supposed ties to the main cast, such as Ash's aunt Hillary or Misty's best friend Amy. The video also features some original dialogue recordings by the cast of the anime, notably a scene in which Team Rocket gets a call from Giovanni ordering them to catch Ash's Pikachu, the "rarest of all Pokémon", before the franchise launches and everyone else tries to do the same.
In 1999, "Hot Newz 64" once again returned to on-camera talent. Steve Sobel hosted something of an infotainment show, and two games were featured: Jet Force Gemini and Donkey Kong 64, along with a brief look at the Donkey Kong Country animated series. Interspersed with the video game footage was Sobel interviewing people behind the games, such as Travis Williams and Brian Hartman. There was also a recurring segment called "Ask Dan", where Daniel Owsen (who is actually a Fake Shemp hidden behind pixellation) gave tips and answered fan letters. It wasn't really a "comedic" video in content, although Sobel's Large Ham delivery was either hilarious or annoying, depending on who you ask.
Finally, in 2000, a video about The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask was released.
All videos can be viewed on World of Nintendo's YouTube channel.
These VHS tapes contain examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: In the Diddy Kong Racing video:Trent: Dent, as Dirk discovered, it seems we are dealing with something drastically different.
- Background Music: Most of the videos used stock music from the APM and Universal Publishing libraries, though a few used music from bands:
- Donkey Kong Country Exposed: "Metal Boost" by Mac Prindy - opening theme
"Mabumbumbo" by David Bradnum - "Here we are on our way to Redmond, Washington..."
"Jungle Dance" by Phil Nicholas - the host meets Ken Lobb and sees the artwork on the wall
"So Close to You 2" by Phil Nicholas - the host meets Dan Owsen and Tony Harman
"Hit Mix" by Curtis Schwartz - Tony Harman describes all the different types of levels in the game
"Swingle 2" by Phil Nicholas - the host visits the zoo and talks to Tim Stamper on the phone
"Helix" by Phil Nicholas - the host interviews George Zachary
"Work That Body 2" by Phil Nicholas - the host gets gameplay tips from Henry Sterchi and Isaac Marshall
"Luo Drummers" by David Bradnum - the ending montage
- A Journey Through Yoshi's Island: "Organized Chaos (A)" by Mac Prindy - intro and ending
"Throb (A)" by Wesley Plass - "Uh... where am I?"
"Cybernetic Overdrive" by Gerhard Daum and Mac Prindy - section on power-up melons
"Hyper Speed (A)" by Mac Prindy - section on morphing power-ups
- Nintendo 64: Change the System video: Meg by Modern Industry - opening of the video. Also plays over much of the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire footage.
Working Days by Starfish: Opening clip montage and "coming soon" montage
Skin by Modern Industry: Game players get out of the car
Low Day by Mumbletypeg: Game players are greeted by front desk. Also plays during the cannonball and "Jumble Hopper" sections of Pilotwings 64.
Gave it All Away by Modern Industry: Game players first get a glimpse the N64
Skin (remix) by Modern Industry: Ken Lobb introduces Super Mario 64. Also plays over much of the Super Mario 64 footage.
Battlefield by DJ DMD: Armond Williams introduces Pilotwings 64.
Casual Affair by Tonic: Plays over much of the Pilotwings 64 footage.
Trepidations in Love by Freaky Chakra: Plays over the end credits.
- Star Fox 64 video: "Caped Crusader" by David Farnon - opening and ending theme
"Ominous" by Geoff Bastow and Jim Harbourgh - Nintendo guy tied up
"Bond is Back" by Dominic Francis Glynn - torturing the Mario doll
"Angsty B" by Steve James and Dirk Sullivan - first montage of Star Fox 64 clips
"Yeah No" by Dirk Sullivan - second montage of Star Fox 64 clips (vehicles)
"For One Moment" by Gregor Narholz - Bob knocked out and tied up
"Hey You" by Steve Vaus - Bob demonstrates the Rumble Pak
"Wanna Be Da One" by Bud Guin and Steve Fawcett - multi-player mode demonstration
"Chrome" by David Hicks, Ian Clarke, and Simon Painter - montage of upcoming N64 games
- Hot Topic: Diddy Kong Racing: "Information Highway" by Zack Laurence (intro to the video)
"Mabumbumbo" by David Bradnum - Dent Chassis & Kandi Krause's segments (Adventure Mode, courses, weapons)
"Trinidad A" by Lars Luis Linek - Trent Tillman on a pool raft
"Romantic Legend" by Eric Swan - Sheila Westin's segment
"Bossa Cubana" by Gerhard Narholz - "It seems that tensions are already running high among the participants."
"Victim C" by Peter Fallowell - Cornelius's segment
"Stars and Games" by Alf Saro - four-player capability
"Techno Barrier" by Richard Cottle and John Gallen - montage of upcoming N64 games
- Banjo Kazooie video: "Boom (a)" by Toby Bricheno and Jan Juzef Cyrka - montage of upcoming N64 games
- Hot Newz 64: "Driver" by Dave Rogers and Paul Shaw - most of the video
"Solid" by Julien Bromley - Ask Dan segments
"Frenzy" by Dave Rogers and Paul Shaw - montage of upcoming N64 games
- N64 Sports: "White Knuckle Ride" by Graeme Pleeth - ending montage
- Donkey Kong Country Exposed: "Metal Boost" by Mac Prindy - opening theme
- Bald of Evil: Sony.
- Bandage Mummy: Dirk Monahan in the "Hot Topic" video suffered this fate after racing against Diddy Kong.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Sega and Sony, respectively.
- Blipvert: The editing on the opening montage of the "Change the System" video. Numerous gameplay clips are displayed for a second or less.
- Bonus Stage: The "Donkey Kong Country Exposed" video showcases how to access two of the bonus stages in the game.
- Book-Ends: The beginning and end of the "Change the System" video both feature Starfish's "Working Days".
- Similarly, the Star Fox 64 video opens and closes with David Farnon's "Caped Crusader".
- But Wait, There's More!: The "Change the System" and Star Fox 64 videos end with "There's more?!" and "You mean there's more?!", respectively. What follows is gameplay footage from upcoming games.
- Catch Phrase: "MORE!" in the "Invasion" video.
- Chroma Key: Candi Krause in the "Hot Topic" video, in what is an obvious use of green screen.
- Computer-Generated Images: Understandably, one of the features heavily hyped in the "Donkey Kong Country Exposed" video.
- Console Wars: Personified in the Star Fox 64 video.
- The end of the "Donkey Kong Country Exposed" video features numerous declarations that you won't find the game on 32-bit, 32x, or CD-ROM. Most importantly, NOT ON SEGA.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the "Hot Topic" video:Trent: We'll have more information on this story as soon as we have more information... on this... story. Ahem.
- Dumb Muscle: How Sega is portrayed.
- Electric Torture: Inflicted on the Mario doll in the Star Fox 64 video.
- Evil Genius: How Sony is portrayed.
- Evil Laugh: The Sony and Sega goons do it numerous times in the Star Fox 64 video.
- Film the Hand: In The Stinger in the "Donkey Kong Country Exposed" video, the staff try to cover the camera to obscure the top secret Killer Instinct.
- Fingore: Threatened in The Invasion of Nintendo.Evil Overlord: Henry, do you really need those thumbs?
- Fish-Eye Lens: Occurs in the "Hot Topic" video when Trent is at the pool.
- Giggling Villain: Sony and Sega.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Bob and Peter are apparently fine with playing Star Fox 64 with Sony and Sega.
- Instant Sedation: How Sony and Sega subdue Peter in the Star Fox 64 video.
- Interspecies Romance: In "Hot Topic", Sheila Westin apparently had a romance with Diddy Kong. Weird.Sheila: (crying) I MISS MY MONKEY!
- Jungle Drums: Utilized at the end of the "Donkey Kong Country" video (it's a stock piece called "Luo Drummers").
- Kill It with Fire: In "The Invasion of Nintendo", at the end of the doctor's roleplaying of a fight scene with bones, one of them declares he will do this to his opponent before the doctor quickly runs out of ideas on how to proceed with the roleplay.
- Knockout Gas: In the Star Fox 64 video:Sega: Pizza for Bob.
Sony: Are you, uh... Bob?
Bob: Yeah, but, uh... I didn't order any pizza. (Sega opens the pizza box, spreading knockout gas; Sony and Sega laugh maniacally)
- Laughably Evil: Sony and Sega.
- Long List: In the "Donkey Kong Country Exposed" video, the crew lists the different types of levels in the game: Snow levels, jungle levels, pyramid levels, cave levels, scaffolding levels, forest levels, mine levels, industrial levels, underground levels, factory levels, etc.
- The large amount of banana-flavored dishes at the lunch room in the same video.
- Motor Mouth: Frank Fontaine eventually turns into this when describing all the different combinations of matches you can create in Diddy Kong Racing.
- News Parody: The format of the "Hot Topic" video.
- No Indoor Voice: Steve Sobel.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: In the Star Fox 64 video, Bob is tied up, but Peter is untied and casually dining on pizza.
- Non-Answer: In the "Hot Topic" video, when Kandi Krause's jetpack runs out of gas:Kandi: Speaking of "time", Trent, is this battery operated?
Trent: Good question, Kandi. (moves on)
- Overly Long Gag: In the "Hot Topic" video, Frank Fontaine is a little too excited about the different variations you can perform in Diddy Kong Racing (as it featured car racing, hovercraft racing, and plane racing). He spends a long time listing all the different variants.
- The Password Is Always "Swordfish": What's the password to get into The Treehouse at Nintendo of America? "Diddy".
- Precision F-Strike: The sports video promises "gameplay so real, it damn near hurts!" Coming from an N64 tape offered by Toys R Us, that's pretty shocking.
- Rule of Three: In the "Hot Topic" video:Narrator: First on the scene! First with the news! Last in the Journalist's Invitational Softball Tournament, this is "Hot Topic"!
- Running Gag: Bananas in the "Donkey Kong Country Exposed" video. Two people (Lobb and Sterchi) ask the host if he wants a banana, and the Nintendo of America cafeteria serves nothing but banana-based cuisine.
- Saying Too Much / You Just Told Me: In the Star Fox 64 video:Sega: Glad you could join us, hehe, BOB. Your test fighter pilot just spilled his guts on Star Fox 64.
Bob: Peter! You didn't tell him about... the Rumble Pak, did you? (Peter does a Face Palm in the background)
Sony: No... Bob... you just did.
Bob: I did?
Peter: You did.
- Shout-Out: The Banjo Kazooie video features Jon Lovitz saying that Banjo isn't quite The Caped Crusader, but he's twice the fun.
- In the "Exposed" video, George Zachary mentions that the same computers which went into designing Donkey Kong Country were also used in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Jurassic Park, True Lies, and The Mask.
- In the "Exposed" video, one of the banana-flavored dishes that the chef lists off is called "fried green bananas".
- Speak in Unison: In the "Change the System" video:Ken Lobb: (discussing the Nintendo 64 joystick) Full 360 control.
- Stealing the Credit: While the Donkey Kong Country: Exposed video does credit RARE (who developed the game), it's only in a brief scene where the host phones Tim Stamper. But the whole video is shot at Nintendo of America in Redmond, Washington, which could give the false impression that NOA was largely responsible the game (they mainly helped with testing).
- The Stinger: Both the "Exposed" and "Change" videos feature an additional scene after the credits; "Exposed" features a brief glimpse of Killer Instinct (the host wanders into a room where people are playing it, and is immediately escorted out), and "Change", appropriately enough, features the narrator asking, "You still want more?!", cuing footage from Killer Instinct Gold.
- Strawman Product: The Star Fox 64 video portrays Sony and Sega as a couple of arrogant dolts.
- Tickle Torture: What Code 5, Procedure 7 entails in "The Invasion of Nintendo".
- Toilet Humour: In the Diddy Kong Racing video, Darryl is interviewed while sitting on the toilet.
- You Know What to Do: Sony gives a nonverbal one to Sega in the Star Fox 64 video.Sony: Wait, there's more?
Peter: Well yeah!.....But Bob'd kill me if I told ya.
(Sony stares at Sega for a few seconds while Sega puts it together)
Sega: .......We'll just have to get this Bob guy to tell us himself!