Why Japanese game ads are the best in the world

How can other commercials compare with cuddly toys, smooching strangers and homicidal women?

Ever wondered why the Dreamcast sold about fourteen units in America? We’re guessing the advert for its flagship launch game wasting half its airtime on a blue rodent playing DJ didn’t help. Clearly, they should have gone with some cuddly toys instead.

Why waste millions on Hollywood-aping production values, special effects and editing when you can just film a plush toy comically falling down a cliff. Cleverly, it apes the feeling of an Indy film by trying to emphasise the adventure aspect of the game. It’s good-natured, self-deprecating humour is also a welcome change from Sonic’s relentless ‘attitude’. And any ad that ends with Sega’s much maligned mascot getting torn apart by crocs is alright in our book.

Watch the American ad for Colossus and you’d probably think the gentle giants are the baddies. While the commercial does a good job bigging up the scale and drama of each epic battle, it entirely misses the point of the game. The true spirit of Team Ico’s title – tear up that man card and get those hankies at the ready – is grief and loss. Something the ad below completely captures.

Nothing about it's that Japanese – erm, apart from the game and publisher. It’s not wacky, obscure or convoluted. Instead, it simply presents SOTC’s central theme and presents it in an affecting, eloquent way. Damn, we were just getting used to those man cards, too.

Watching a man systematically carving up his living room furniture in the dead of night – occasionally spliced with DMC footage – is a good idea for an ad. Well done Capcom’s American advertising team. Too bad your Japanese counterparts had already come up with this…

What better way to sum up demon slaughter, six foot swords and buckets of blood than an attractive woman beating the bejesus out of her boyfriend with a bunch of flowers? Witty and funny, it even gives a sense of Dante’s juggling combo system. We’ve had some stinking dates in the past. But none have ever been so tragic they’ve ending with us on the wrong end of an SSS rank.

Any advert that translates the title of its game as literally as the one below is undiluted win as far as we’re concerned.

Of course, you’d never have a blinding clue what the game was about based on what you’ve just seen. But there’s no way we can criticise and ad based around a love story between golden fish or finding a kindred spirit on the bus ride home. Bonds of Gold, is actually a bit like Shadow of the Colossus from what we’ve seen. And you’ve got to love a nation that can turn this…

Into this…

At any rate, we’ll take this kind of Wii advert over celebs with nuclear-whitened teeth ‘enjoying’ entertaining Nintendo products any day.

April 3, 2009

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