Sunday, July 4, 2010

South Pacific Video Will Sell You... Something...

It's Independence Day, the 4th of July, here in the United States, and a good day to post this optimistic, sky's-the-limit, red-white-and-blue, thoroughly American and completely uninformative magazine ad circa 1982:

It's not really clear what products and services South Pacific Video has to offer.  Is the slogan Climb to the Top a reference to Donkey Kong?  A general huzzah for an industry still on its way up?  A complimentary motivational poster for readers of Electronic Games?

My guess is that South Pacific Video was a distribution operation -- the collection of logos at the bottom of the ad implies the company represented a semi-random assortment of smaller players; a retail operation would likely have carried a few products from, say, Atari, Activision, Imagic and Mattel.

Looking at this ad today, most of the companies and videogame divisions listed are long since gone.  Vidtec and Tiger were among the many smaller, less successful Atari 2600 publishers, with few memorable games between them.  The Emerson Arcadia was an also-also-ran in the console sweepstakes from day one, coming to market just in time to be deeply discounted.  The Colecovision looked promising but hadn't quite established itself when this ad came out.  My casual research indicates that Royal Sound, presumably an audio equipment company, ran into some issues with the National Labor Relations Board and is no longer in business, with several other companies founded later on using the name or variations of it.  Parker Brothers did solid business in the cartridge market while it lasted, thanks in large part to strong licenses, and survived the industry crash, thanks no doubt to its core board game business.

And, of course, down in the lower right-hand corner is Nintendo, a coin-op company with no real presence in the consumer market, though they did have an interesting handheld series called Game & Watch.

It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good, it seems.  Sometimes a company can climb to the top just by outliving the competition.

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