In the late 90s, video game ads had a bit of a Wild West quality to them. Gaming had become a billion dollar industry, which meant that publishers were willing to pump plenty of cash into print campaigns. However, even the biggest magazines still had minimal oversight, allowing companies to run advertisements that were genuinely shocking (at least by today’s standards).
Occasionally, Electronic Gaming Monthly took advantage of this lack of oversight and openly criticized a few of their advertisers. In their annually published Buyer’s Guide issue, they named the best and worst ads they’d seen that year.
More often than not, the ads they called out deserved a good dressing-down. Past winners were exceptionally gross, dumb, or just plain tacky. But in 1998, the ad EGM denounced was pretty inoffensive — unless you have a hate-on for bodybuilders, anyway.
It’s not that the ad (for Crash Bandicoot: Warped) is particularly hilarious. It’s that nothing about it stands out as bad. It’s attention-grabbing, it has some nice screenshots, and it’s funny enough to make a 12-year-old giggle. By 1998 standards, it’s pretty solid.
Of course, when you see EGM‘s favorite ad of that year (for Turbo Prop Racing), it’s easier to see the motivation behind their decision:
C’mon, EGM of 1998. The ads in your magazine regularly featured poop, boogers, and Comic Sans. You should be able to handle a few shirtless guys in speedos. And it’s not like you didn’t have a smorgasboard of bad ads to choose from. There were all sorts of awful advertisements in your 1998 issues, from ads that mocked depressed readers to garden-variety eyesores.
You can see the rational behind EGM‘s choices (and their take on the tastes of Bob Vila) below: