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Segata Sanshiro, the Greatest Video Game Ad Man Of Them All

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Sony's fictional executive Kevin Butler has won himself a legion of fans. Which is great! Kevin Butler, though, ain't got shit on Segata Sanshiro.

In the late 90's Sanshiro was concocted by Sega to help sell the Sega Saturn. And there's never been a more entertaining ad mascot for a video game company.


For pretty much the entire 1990's, Sega made a name for itself with its advertising, whether it be taking direct swipes at Nintendo, confusing an entire planet with Dreamcast ads or wasting millions of dollars sponsoring high-profile football teams.

But nothing was as entertaining, and ahead of its time, than its series of commercials featuring the fictional martial arts expert Segata Sanshiro, his name (and demeanour) a tribute to a badass Judo fighter from a Kurosawa flick.


This guy didn't try sleaze. He wasn't a marketing executive. He was a man who screamed a lot. Screamed at children. Carried giant Saturn consoles through the woods. Beat the shit out of teenagers. Threw men so hard they exploded. All in an effort to get people to just sit down and play a damn Sega Saturn.

Really, the man was a legend. Heck, still is a legend, because not only did he make amazing commercials, but he made a ton of them: although Segata Sanshiro ads only ran in Japan between 1997 and 1998, there were almost twenty of them produced (plus a top-selling music single!), meaning there was not only quality on show, but quantity as well.

He even got to star in a game of his own (for the Saturn, of course), a type of minigame compilation called Segata Sanshiro Presents: Shinken Yu Gi.

So legendary was Sanshiro, in fact, that when it was time for the Dreamcast to replace the Saturn he was given a heroic send-off in a final commercial that, even to this day, brings a tear to the eye (it's the final commercial in the gallery above).


Sanshiro was played wonderfully by actor Hiroshi Fujioka, star of Kamen Rider, and who has subsequently done a bit of video game voice-over work including roles in Kingdom hearts, Shenmue, Final Fantasy and Pokemon games (as well as lending his mullet to Rambo arcade games).


But enough talking. Time to watch.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.