Why Japanese game ads are the best in the world

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

The most misleading game ads of all time
May not be representative of in-game footage


Game ads that'll make you say "WTF!?"
We look for mind-bending ads


10 adverts that would actually work in games
We make ads so the marketing men don't have to


  • linkganon - September 3, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    lol, watch the snake eater one, at 26 seconds, he's got beer in his right hand while eating a snake. i also watched the mgs2 substistance for x-box commercial. yeah right, only for x-box, i don't think so. never coming to x-box ever again unless it's a campaign to ruin them, sounds about right.
  • haseeb29 - April 12, 2009 2:46 p.m.

    The Mgs one was awesome so was the Devil May Cry one and the Resi %
  • Conman93 - April 7, 2009 7:29 p.m.

    LOVE the 4 swords one!!! I really want to get that game
  • MagicArmadillo - April 5, 2009 11:44 p.m.

    veeery nice
  • Picnic1 - April 5, 2009 11:47 a.m.

    American ad agency: "Yes, we've got to promote Konami's latest carefully crafted game 'Metal Gear Solid SNAKE EATER' to the American public. I was thinking that we should show some, well, you know, some of the things that make this stand out like the jungle and water effects. Let's go a bit Japanese quirky this time. Or a bit David Lynch maybe.' "No, let's stick with the whole Armageddon blowing things up thing like we always do. Anyway, I've got a hair appointment at 4pm.'
  • gmilf71 - April 5, 2009 1:53 a.m.

    LoL japanese ads are WIN. i like the mgs3 and R&C ones.
  • deathrebellion - April 4, 2009 2:05 p.m.

    Japanese commercials r like Peacocks compared to peahens, (sry i didn't come up wid any other quite suitable comparision) lolz
  • oryandymackie - April 4, 2009 11:06 a.m.

    I refuse to watch any Western game adverts ever again (and you can quote me on that) I will just cover my eyes. I loved the Ratchet and Clank ad
  • GIJoe01 - April 4, 2009 2:30 a.m.

    The Shadow of the Colossus commercial was one of the most beutiful things I've ever seen.
  • Defguru7777 - April 4, 2009 2:20 a.m.

    Man the Japanese make great commercials. Too bad we spend all our resources BLOWING THE SHITE OUT OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI!!! Yeah, I went there.
  • Ninja-KiLLR - April 4, 2009 12:59 a.m.

    wow rahct was awsome devil may cry um ok? that was odd
  • izayuh - April 4, 2009 12:13 a.m.

    that devil may cry was funny and i liked the snake eater one
  • Hurricrane - April 3, 2009 11:25 p.m.

    wow the RE5 1 was hysterical
  • EricBratcher - April 3, 2009 11:04 p.m.

    I've always loved this one as well.
  • lava_lamp - April 3, 2009 8:18 p.m.

    >spend our weekends dressed in furry animal costumes. lolz Dave Meikleham is a furry
  • sadisticgrizzz - April 3, 2009 7:16 p.m.

    Those ds commercials just strait piss me off.
  • ChuckB - April 3, 2009 5:03 p.m.

    Why do the West flock on (mostly) mediocre commercials?
  • skyguy343 - April 3, 2009 5:02 p.m.

    WOOOOT! Another SoTC reference!! sweeeet :D
  • RebornKusabi - April 3, 2009 3:12 p.m.

    Oh **** that! The Japanese ad for Link to the Past is so unfathomably awesome that it breaks all of reality with it's awesomeness! Awesome! reCAPTCHA- Luigi 540.50
  • noobeater - April 3, 2009 11:29 a.m.

    resi 5 one made me smile but the metal gear solid one was EPIC it had me laughing every second of it

Showing 1-20 of 37 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000