If you get on a train anywhere in Tokyo then the chances are that at least one person in your carriage will be bashing away on a PSP.

And more than likely the game they’ll be playing is Monster Hunter, in which the player takes control of a hero on a mission to capture a virtual menagerie of weird and wonderful, well… monsters.

Having played the game I can’t personally see the appeal. It’s a true grinder, requiring a real input of time and commitment to build up the supplies needed to catch your prey. Think Farmville but with weapons and the occasional burst of intense monster-hunting action

The game has built up a cult following here, partly due to it’s social aspect – it’s not uncommon to see a group of teens sitting in McDonalds, all tapping away on their PSPs in tandem, playing together over local wi-fi.

The latest edition of the game – Monster Hunter Portable 3rd – has just launched here and is being heavily advertised – in the papers, on TV, on the TVs in train carriages, on the billboards at train stations. Given that the title sold over 2 million copies within it’s first 5 days of release, the ads don’t seem to have gone unnoticed!

But walking past Uniqlo in Ikebukuro station today I noticed a slightly more subtle form of advertising on their racks. Capcom – the studio behind the game – has teamed up with Uniqlo to produce a range of t-shirts featuring icons from the game and other monster-hunting memorabilia.

So now discerning fans can not only play the game but can also indeed buy the t-shirt – potentially a nice little link up given the cult status of the game. And the designers have done a good job of turning the imagery from the game into some pretty wearable designs, perhaps unsurprising given the company’s history of producing limited edition manga and anime based t-shirts for their capsule collection lines.

Apparently Uniqlo’s sales have been suffering in Japan against competition from ‘fashionable’ new competition such as Zara and H&M . Their owner, Tadashi Yanai, Japan’s richest man, has stated that he aims to switch strategies back to a focus on their core, more functional product lines and away from ‘superficial fashion’ items. Whether that means we’ll see less of this type of collaboration in the future remains to be seen.

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