With the holiday season approaching, Sony and Microsoft are pushing their latest upgraded consoles to the masses meaning a lot of money is being spent on advertising. One ad which caught my attention was a recent Xbox One S commercial dubbed “Portals”. The ad kicks off with the new white console and then has the camera fly inside the machine to pass through several rectangular portals, each portal containing a game’s universe. There are a few moments where they cut away to people playing the Xbox One S before jumping back inside the machine to show some more video game universes before pulling out and showing the console once again. Cool ad right? I swear I’ve seen this before.
Back in 1999 in the lead up to the SEGA Dreamcast’s American release, several mysterious ads played teasing the 9-9-99 date and repeating the slogan “It’s Thinking”. These ads culminated in a minute long launch ad, seen below, which played out like a mini-movie. A woman is seen stealing the SEGA Dreamcast, only to be caught by the police. How was she thwarted? Well, the Dreamcast is not only a game console, “it’s thinking”! It turns out the many video game characters reside inside the machine in a “Wreck-It Ralph” style universe, and thanks to them the Dreamcast was saved.
Subsequent ads continued this world inside the Dreamcast, showing multiple levels of video game worlds with a massive circle in the middle containing a ground floor lobby of sorts where the characters would intermingle. Some ads took a more general approach, promoting the console, while others promoted specific games. What was unique was that even if an ad was promoting, say, Sonic Adventure, you would still see characters from other games in the ad. It was a clever way of advertising other games within a single game’s ad. In some cases, characters from games planned up to a year later would cameo (for example, the Floigan Bros. appeared in ads long before their game released).
Like the Xbox One S ad, the Dreamcast ad has its own portals by way of the layered universes. While the Xbox One S ad does not have the characters mingling, it does cross universes through the portal transitions jumping from racing to soccer to Minecraft. Both ads entering and exiting the console are almost identical. If the similarities are a coincidence, I would be shocked. Given how many times the Xbox took a page from the Dreamcast’s playbook, it would not surprise me if the Xbox One S ad makers were inspired by the Dreamcast. You can see both ads above and below this paragraph, or check out a picture-in-picture at the top of the page. What are your thoughts? Think this is a coincidence? Sound off in the comments below.