Hidekazu Yukawa, once the Senior Managing Director at Sega, became the unlikely face of the Dreamcast during its Japanese debut after starring in an endearing TV commercial lamenting the company’s struggles against the nigh-universal popularity of Sony’s PlayStation. From that self-deprecating moment he would on to appear in other high profile advertising campaigns for Sega’s machine, spawn a range of merchandise, and even find his face plastered all over the console’s packaging for a while too.
With a popularity arguably rivalling even the mighty Segata Sanshiro it’s no wonder his name and likeness formed a core component of this early interactive giveaway campaign (released on the 20th March 1999; just a week before The House of the Dead 2, and about two months before Dynamite Deka 2) where 10,000 lucky Yukawa Moto Senmu no Otakara Sagashi (“Former Senior Managing Director Yukawa’s Treasure Hunt”) players would win ¥10,000 each – at the time that was almost enough money to buy two full-price Dreamcast games.
They had to be quick though as the online campaign tied to Yukawa’s treasure hunting GD-ROM only ran for three weeks, closing on the 11th Apr 1999.
Competition entry went like this: You, an excited early adopter of the Dreamcast living in Japan, would pop this disc into your console, pick the online version of the game from the opening menu, and after connecting to the internet would receive a clue from Yukawa before setting off to do some serious in-game treasure hunting. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what sort of fiendish hints he gave online, but in the nigh-identical offline game he may say something like “I’m searching for something essential for saving and playing minigames” – obviously in that instance he’s hoping for an image of a VMU. Treasure hunting takes the pleasurable simple form of straightforward hole digging at any random spot you like, an activity that more often than not awards you one-sixth of a small collection of Dreamcast related images – PR shots of Yukawa himself, Dreamcast keyboards, a console box, a Dream Passport disc case – it’s all very charmingly Sega. The aim here is to complete the image you believe he wants and then return to Yukawa’s office to present it to him (you automatically return after exhausting all of your action points – 100 is the default amount – whether you’ve completed any images or not), and if you’ve got it right you’ll be entered into the competition to win ¥10,000. Applicants could enter as many times as they wished to, but could only win once. Successfully clearing an offline game rewards you with the satisfying feeling of a simple job done well, and a trip back to the title screen.
To increase your chances of completing the correct image (all images/pieces are discarded at the end of every game) you can download Space Senmu (Space Senior Managing Director) to your VMU and shoot items on the opposite side of the tiny battery-obliterating screen to increase your score, a score which can then be transferred back to the Dreamcast and converted into a one-use-only boost to your starting quantity of action points.
There’s not much to it, but then again there’s not supposed to be either, and in the interest of clarity I will stress again that this was never intended to be a game in the traditional sense any more than the “Java Tea Original” version of Virtua Fighter Kids or that PlayStation demo with the interactive T-Rex model was. My copy at least has “Not for sale” prominently displayed on the box and the disc, and from what I can gather even when it was “sold” (official evidence here) it only had a retail price of ¥980. Maybe some copies were given away with new Dreamcast console purchases? Maybe they were all “free” after a ¥980 shipping/handling fee? The point being even when people did have to hand over money for it the price was so low it was in “game magazine with a demo disc on the front” territory, if that.
Even so; what it does, Yukawa Moto Senmu no Otakara Sagashi does well. This non-game’s a charming practical demonstration of everything the Dreamcast could do: It had online connectivity, a VMU minigame with a tangible effect on the main game, and direct tied into an ongoing (albeit brief) real-world event. These days it’s a cheery memento of more hopeful times, further proof of Sega’s boundless… well, Sega-ness, and a charming way to spend five or ten minutes of your time.