The year was 1995. A successor to the acclaimed SEGA Genesis was due. This machine needed a face. It turned out that the man for the job was middle aged and wore a gi...
I am sure most people can name a few gaming mascots, like the iconic Mario for Nintendo and Sonic for SEGA. But, even SEGA once had a legend, one of which many may never know of! Segata Sanshiro is a fictional character created by Sega to advertise the Sega Saturn in Japan between 1997 and 1998, and boy did he do a stellar job! This overzealous selling point is described as so:
Sanshiro is a Judo master that tracks down and punishes those who do not play the Sega Saturn. He believes that playing video games is one of the most treasured activities in life.
To be honest, that doesn't sound all bad. Video games are a very treasured activity, but the punishment part is kind of unnerving. But maybe the punishment is just playful...right? Check out the commercials that featured Segata and see for yourself:
Did he just potentially cripple some pre-adolescents? Get a home run with a kick? Stop a missile with pure physical strength? Yes. Segata Sanshiro does that and a whole lot more. I'm even contemplating buying a SEGA Saturn from Ebay just to avoid the wrath of this maniac! As demonstrated, Segata's signature move is a judo throw and a prompt choking out whilst the recipient is at their most vulnerable. As nothing says 'buy our product' more than direct threats of violence, eh?
The Legacy of Segata Sanshiro!
This Judo throwing and Karate kicking mascot actually did an amazing amount for the company. He is pretty much the sole reason that the SEGA Saturn sold so well in Japan when it wasn't doing so well anywhere else. His contribution to sales was:
to the point of even surpassing the sales of the original Playstation for some time. It is quite possible, that without Segata Sanshiro, SEGA wouldn’t be able to produce their last console, the Dreamcast.
Due to Sanshiro's heroic efforts, when the Dreamcast was imminent, SEGA felt that the Judo master should be given the right send off. In the video above, the last commercial is Segata's final bow as he saves SEGA HQ from a missile and sacrifices himself for the greater good, well that and for the company to move onto a more profitable venture. However, it nonetheless showed how beloved this character had come to be.
Even after his 'death', Segata has appeared virtually, either as a direct playable character or hidden in references and easter eggs. The first one that has to be mentioned is his very own game; Segata Sanshirō Shinken Yūgi! Which debuted on the Saturn and is a perfect way to honour the character that had done so much for the console.
He also has an appearance in Rent A Hero No. 1, where he is a martial arts instructor who can teach new moves to the main character (albeit unfortunately not the exploding Judo throw). He also pops up in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, where if you are in 1st place on the final lap of the Race of Ages, you can see Segata riding the rocket from the commercial and carrying a giant Sega Saturn on his back!
Another really awesome appearance is Segata arriving in the popular YouTube series Death Battle where he faces off against the legendary Chuck Norris!
You may be thinking that the Judo king would never be able to hold up against the living god that is Chuck Norris, but they are still waging their intergalactic war until this very day. You have to give props to anyone that can withstand the might of the Texas Ranger.
There you have it! That is the tale of Segata Sanshiro, the great, the mighty, the saviour of a commercially failing console.