Marketing is one of those strange concepts. No matter what sort of product you have, be it good or bad, there are people who are tasked with the job of making someone want to buy it. There are a million different ways to do this, especially with video games. I’m sure we’ve all watched Andy Dick pretend to be a woman to market Sonic, or seen the strangest pair of kids ever rap about The Legend of Zelda. With the explosion of new age media, however, advertising is a far wilder beast to tame. You have to compete with a million and one distractions to convince people to watch your movie, listen to your music, or play your game. For a recent example, everyone here on Sonic Retro is intimately aware with the ways Sega of America has been utilizing social media to push Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, a trickle of concept art and the odd screenshot, along with wild beards and teasing trailers to gain the public’s interest.
But what about Japan? How does the marketing department in the Land of the Rising Sun choose to market their latest titles with the help of viral Internet marketing?
Caution: the video you are about to watch is mostly safe for work, though you might be wary just who you play this near as it does feature an Asian woman in a red bikini.
Oh, did I forget to mention she ends up playing Super Monkey Ball?
So, what is going on here? Well, in an effort to advertise Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz, the latest game in the Super Monkey Ball franchise, Sega of Japan decided to call upon Yukie Kawamura. According to Wikipedia, she is “a Japanese gravure idol, tarento, and actress,” meaning that hardly anyone in the west is going to recognize her. Which is fine, since this isn’t showing up on Sega of America’s YouTube feed anytime soon. Though I do wonder what sort of reaction people would get when suddenly confronted with a woman doing Yoga while trying to play Super Monkey Ball. Especially when it is presented with footage of a photo shoot beforehand where she is posing oh-so-seductively with a Playstation Vita.
Turns out the photoshoot actually has a purpose, though. Sega’s partnership with Yukie extends beyond a very strange video, as her image is actually ending up in the game itself. For the first run of the game, Sega is including special promotional codes for people to unlock the franchise’s first “adult map,” where people playing the game can stare at Yukie’s scantily clad body as AiAi rolls around a variety of obstacles including her chest. No, I’m not making this up in the slightest.
I feel like there are so many things I can say about this whole promotion, but I think it might be better if I just keep my mouth shut. I don’t normally like to say this, but I feel like the only real explanation for how this idea was even considered in the slightest, let alone fully realized, is because “lol Japan.” You can certainly bet that the maps, at least in their current graphical form, are never going to make it to the west. Even if they replaced it with an American or European female model counterpart, it wouldn’t fly. The term “adult map” is slightly misleading since nothing featured would be out of place on prime time television, it’s just… bizarre, to put it simply.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to the Japanese Vita store, you can try out a demo of Banana Splitz with the “adult map” right now. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the game is released on June 14th in Japan.