Why Japanese game ads are the best in the world

Our eyeballs have been sullied by hateful Western game adverts for too long now. Our retinas simply can’t stand staring into the back of peeps' craniums in 360 commercials, gritty - read miserable - cinematography for action games ads or Aryan race-esque families playing 2.4 children in front of their consoles. Want us to buy your titles, giant corporations? You could start by never showing us this again…

Instead, show us middle-aged businessman fighting for survival in the wilderness, wronged women attacking men with bouquets or a couple in gold body paint hugging on public transport. It sounds like madness, but it’s clearly a sound business strategy. After all, the Japanese have been using brilliantly barmy ads like these and more below to shift games to punters for decades.

We could direct you to this Japanese Zelda ad for A Link to the Past. But honestly, we think we’d have a hard time justifying why emo teens prancing around in form-fitting tunics to twee pop while line dancing represents why Link’s series is ace. Instead, we’d much rather show this Four Swords commercial, which perfectly apes the gentle humour and charm of the games.

The disarming little material men not only help convey the title’s colourful visual style, they also emphasise co-op play and how important it is to the game. And the Western competition? Well, a man with split personality disorder rambling to a shrink about his Zelda adventures was certainly an ‘interesting’ direction to take. But we’ll stick with the puppets, cheers.

Booming voices and cheesy taglines are fine and all – this American Snake Eater ad loves them. But when the competition is this…

There’s only ever going to be one winner.

C’mon, what chance do in-game footage, tight editing and a professional voiceover have against a middle-aged man in his kecks? This is the perfect Metal Gear ad. It encapsulates all the themes the series is famous for – tongue-in-cheek humour, mournful melodrama, sexy time – while also covering Snake Eater's survival mechanics. It couldn’t be any more Kojima short of stopping in the middle to give us a 20 minute lecture on nuclear weapons.

There’s no denying the UK ‘fear you can’t forget’ campaign is effective at evoking tension. Trouble is, it never focuses on the main selling point of the latest Resi: co-op. That’s where the following longing, love-fuelled looks over 360 pads come in.

The generic British ad forgoes substance for style. While the Japanese one shows the camaraderie that can be built up in co-op sessions – the best thing about Resi 5 – and is also funny to boot. Although we can’t remember the last time someone gave us googly eyes during an intense game of zombie-murdering. We’re clearly not considerate enough co-op companions.

Don’t get us wrong, we like the American Jackass-style ads that aired for Ratchet back in 2002. Johnny Knoxville-inspired shenanigans aside, though, nothing compares to a man in an oversized space marsupial suit.

Absurdly overblown, with a tongue digging a crater-sized hole in its own cheek, the faux summer movie ad captures Ratchet’s humour and action perfectly. Expertly cut together, it makes us want to play Going Commando all over again. That, and spend our weekends dressed in furry animal costumes.

David Meikleham
Google AMP Stories Editor

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar+ and the Official Xbox Magazine. He is currently the Google Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, which sees him making daily video Stories content for both websites. David also regularly writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands too.