The evolution of Japanese game commercials

30 years of daft, brilliant and disturbingly odd TV skits

Back to basics: when graphics were good enough (1996)

By 1996, however, Nintendo had figured out how to use SGI workstations for Pure Good, resulting in games that looked unbelievably awesome but were, in fact, playable. And believable.

This simple but effective Super Mario 64 CM focused exclusively on the in-game action, and it wasn't even tarted-up in an attempt to make it look better - those underhanded tactics just weren't necessary anymore. Of course it still took some years for this to style of TV advertising to be fashionable again, mainly because it took some years for other games to catch up with Super Mario 64.

PlayStation sophistication (1997)

The look and approach of PlayStation CMs was always fresh and unmistakably Sony. If you journey back to Sony's ads for products in the 1970s and 80s, you can see the same sleek, sophisticated image that viewers in Japan were fed with PlayStation CMs such as this 1997-vintage series, which portrayed Normal People in impeccably-directed sequences before casually dropping the games into the equation.

The "don't look like your trying too hard" ethos continues today, and can be seen in the relaxed, natural-looking CMs of both Nintendo and Sony. Not that Nintendo would ever admit to being influenced by Sony...

Brands personified: Segata Sanshiro (1998)

The creation of Segata Sanshiro, played by actor Hiroshi Fujioka, was one of the cleverest moves SEGA made during the Saturn years (OK, that's not saying much, but it was really clever). Segata Sanshiro was bold, direct and courageous - a genuine hero figure who spent his time on screen saving people, punching giant Saturn controllers, romancing the chick from Sakura Taisen, running barefoot across ice rinks and, here, literally moving the goalposts.

Whatever the scenario, whatever the game that needed promotion, Segata Sanshiro was there to do something vaguely heroic before invariably wrapping things up with a fear-inspiring command to PLAY SEGA SATURN! Result: the Saturn became SEGA's best-selling console in Japan. But in spite of that, the Console Ambassador role didn't really catch on. Segata Sanshiro was the last of his kind and the Japanese game CM world moved on without him. (If you want to take a break here to dab your wet eyes with Kleenex, that's entirely understandable.)

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