The 5 Least Subtle Product Placements in Gaming History

#2. A Psychedelic Sci-Fi Shooter Starring the Toyota Yaris

Backbone Entertainment

One of the most basic rules of advertising is to know your audience and build ads that cater to their interests. Toyota did just that in 2007 with Yaris, the absolute perfect video game tie-in for the burgeoning demographic of minivan-driving soccer mom acid freaks with violent tendencies.

Backbone Entertainment
The most ridiculous thing here is a Yaris actually breaking 65.

Check out the gun stuck to the Yaris' roof (standard option?), observe the UFOs, the giant 8-balls, the winged MP3 players ... truly, this was a game designed by a developer who looked around at the crap on his desk and thought, "Eh, this'll do."

But hey, if the game itself is good, who cares how absurd the premise is, right? Unfortunately, the game turned out to be completely awful, with horrid controls that attempted to cross-breed a traditional stick shooter with a legitimate driving sim, and failed miserably on both counts. This was your track:

Backbone Entertainment
"It was inspired by only the finest of Guy Fieri shirts."

Without those hokey flames (the animations don't move at all; they just stand there like cardboard cutouts), this would be one of the most boring levels of all time. A gray track on a white background, populated by living knickknacks and an affordable hatchback. On the other hand, perhaps the developers just really wanted to make the Toyota Yaris the most exciting thing on the screen.

Obviously, the only way to manage that was to make everything else as boring as possible.

#1. Pizza Hut and Colonel Sanders in Phantasy Star Portable 2

Sega

2009 marked the 40th anniversary of Kentucky Fried Chicken opening in Japan, and Yum! Brands (the company that owns it) felt the need to celebrate. They did so by taking one of the most iconic RPG series of all time, Phantasy Star, and turning it into the fever dream of a hungry Walmart patron. For the Japanese version of Phantasy Star Portable 2, Yum and Sega made both KFC and Pizza Hut (which Yum also owns) an integral part of a fantastical world, billions of light-years away from our own. All of a sudden, players could exchange their worthless swords and shields for far more powerful fare, like pizza pans and pizza boxes.

Sega
"The Noid avoids me."

There were also numerous Pizza Hut chains strategically placed in the most dangerous enemy-filled sections of the galaxy. You could buy various pizzas and coffee at these locations, all of which worked to restore health and energy. Because that's what comes to mind when you think of health, energy, and high quality coffee: Pizza Hut.

Sega
"Pepperoni latte, extra shot of espresso, heavy foam, and cheese."

When it came to hawking KFC, though, Yum would not be satisfied with some measly magical boxes and a couple of life-giving chain stores. The Colonel deserves better. The Colonel will not be denied. The Colonel will accept nothing less than total dominance. The Colonel will be an ass-kicking playable character with a supernatural cane, or he will be nothing.

Sega

Yes indeed, Colonel Sanders was a full-blown partner who aided you in your efforts to save the universe. Not a mystical old man who gives you a quest. Not a friendly shopkeeper or comic relief. Colonel Sanders was a warrior. He ran right out onto the battlefield with you, handing out Double beat-Downs left and right. Here's one of his special moves, the laser cane:

Sega
Yes, that's an Old South octogenarian, in a seersucker suit, battling intergalactic monsters,
with a weaponized walking stick, on the set of Lost. Just go with it.

And because you came here to see it, even if you didn't know it at the time, even if you were just drawn to this article by some mysterious implacable pull that you couldn't quite explain -- here's Colonel Sanders pimp-slapping the holy hell out of a giant bug thing. Thanks, Japan!

Sega
"That was Original Recipe. Now get my damn money or I'll give you Extra Crispy."


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Related Reading: Product placement gets even more painful. Check out this Survivor cast pretending to enjoy an Adam Sandler movie. But at least that isn't as cringe-worthy as this Craftsman tool ad featuring the Justice League. Oh, we've got more shameless shilling to show off. Click here.

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