The evolution of Japanese game commercials

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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  • Taloh - September 24, 2009 12:04 a.m.

    The last one reminds me of the Mac vs PC commercials.
  • EmmaXII - September 8, 2009 9:12 p.m.

    Wow! The commercials have really come a long way! Oh yeah! Mite b waaay 2 late 4 dis bt @Tobio, looks like u didnt read it either! All u did was dis @conman93 Same wit U @chrisda! So wot r ye talkin bout u hypocrits!!
  • TKTOWA - September 6, 2009 8:47 p.m.

    So when I began reading this I was thinking "They better mention Segata Sanshiro or I'll probably puke on myself." Thank you for doing just that. Sega Saturn is my favourite console and Segata is my hero.
  • aatinko - September 6, 2009 1:06 p.m.

    Wow, those Japanese folk totally ROCK, they always have! RT
  • MitsuharuSan - September 4, 2009 4:46 p.m.

    I love it, brings tears to my eyes! Good old Nihon... Thanks for the awesome article.
  • dweller - September 4, 2009 4:22 p.m.

    At this point I've seen the dancing Legend of Zelda advert several times. And I'm still not tired of it. Advertising!
  • iKOemos - September 4, 2009 4:42 a.m.

    All of these are EPIC WIN!
  • lovinmyps3 - September 4, 2009 3:59 a.m.

    I love Japanese commercials. They're way more creative than American ones.
  • MechGyver - September 4, 2009 2:45 a.m.

    Final Fantasy X = Chrono Cross
  • MetalGearFlaccid - September 4, 2009 1:19 a.m.

  • RebornKusabi - September 3, 2009 11:31 p.m.

    I absolutely ****ing love that "Zelda Rap" video XD
  • gutlessVADER - September 3, 2009 10:49 p.m.

  • bonerachieved - September 3, 2009 9:24 p.m.

    God i love these haha, theres more videos on youtube that like completely destroy these commercials and make them make NO sense at all haha.
  • shaft121 - September 3, 2009 7:41 p.m.

    Ooh, jealous Tobio. One day you will get to say that too.
  • Felixthecat - September 3, 2009 4:26 p.m.

    Pikmin is'nt spelt PikMin.
  • Cyberninja - September 6, 2009 1:26 a.m.

  • neon6 - September 4, 2009 4:16 p.m.

    Those Manzai acts are awesome.
  • DrDack - September 4, 2009 3:45 p.m.

    The Legend of Zelda ads remains one of my favourite game ads of all time. It just doesn't get much better than cross-dressing and toilet paper mummies.
  • BlackElement17 - September 4, 2009 3:55 a.m.

    I saw a web documentary on Segata Sanshiro once, it was entertaining

Showing 1-20 of 28 comments

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