Important Importables: Famitsu

September 5, 2009 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: Famitsu

Section: Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Gear, Gear-Other

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FamitsuAnyone who’s a serious fan of video games and a frequent reader of video game related blogs or magazines undoubtedly knows the name Famitsu. While it is a Japan-exclusive publication, the magazine is known as one of the premiere in its field. A sort of Holy Grail for those searching for the most comprehensive and pertinent information on future video games about to debut in Japan.

After all, what’s a video game sensation in Japan today is likely to be the next biggest hit in North America or Europe a few months, or perhaps even a few years, later. It behooves more serious gamers to at least stay appraised of Famitsu‘s latest features. And, if by some miracle a game happens to get a perfect 40/40 review in Famitsu, gamers around the world should take note.

This week’s Hot Japanese Imports is all about Famitsu. By the end of this article, you’ll know how the magazine got it’s start, what spin-offs are available, the meaning of a 40/40 review (as well as the few games to be rewarded with it) and where to find your own copy.


Famitsu‘s somewhat humble beginnings.

The first issue of Famitsu was published June 1, 1986. It wasn’t called that back then though, instead it carried the name Famicom Tsuushin. In 1983, Nintendo has launched the Famicom in Japan, which everyone else probably will better recognize as the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was the most popular video game system at the time, and Famicom Tsuushin was entirely devoted to covering it and it’s games.

As the industry grew and developed, so did the magazine. When more systems grew in popularity, the magazine became Famitsu, and began offering extensive coverage of all games and systems. Spin-off magazines were also developed and released, offering a concentrated focus on a single company or platform. For example, there are currently four Famitsu spin-off magazines you can purchase: Famitsu PS which focuses on Sony’s consoles, Famitsu Wii+DS for the DS and Wii, Famitsu Xbox for Microsoft consoles and the Famitsu Wave DVD magazine that comes with a DVD filled with game videos and trailers.

The ever influential Famitsu score.

Famitsu is not only known for having the absolute latest and most up-to-date information on the latest Japanese games. It’s also known for its reviews. A review in Famitsu has four review editors look at each game. Each reviewer gives the game a score out of 10, and the scores are added up to give the overall score. So you’re getting a balanced look at a game through multiple eyes. The magazine has been around since 1986, and since then only 11 games have received a coveted perfect score. The only thing that has chanced throughout the years is that it is now (slightly) easier for a game to have a chance of receiving a perfect score. There has also been some recent controversy hinting at the idea that companies can buy better scores at the magazine. Nevertheless, receiving a perfect score from Famitsu is still an honor.

Since any discussion of the Famitsu review system wouldn’t be complete without a list of the games which received perfect 40/40 scores from the magazine, here it is:

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Orcarina of Time (N64)
  2. Soulcalibur (Dreamcast)
  3. Vagrant Story (PS1)
  4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC)
  5. Nintendogs (DS)
  6. Final Fantasy XII (PS2)
  7. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
  8. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (Wii)
  9. 428: Fuusasareta Shibuya de (Wii)
  10. Dragon Quest IX (DS)
  11. Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)


Where can you find Famitsu outside of Japan?

If you’ve got a Japanese bookstore located near you, like Sasuga or Kinokuniya, easiest way to find Famitsu is to stop by the store and pick up the latest issue. If you haven’t then the internet’s your best resource. Play-Asia, JBox, HimeyaShop and NCSX all carry Famitsu. If you’re going for a subscription from one of these sites, it’s going to be pricey, so perhaps just shoot for issues that you know are going to cover games you’re interested in.

Another great, and incredibly cheap, option is to simply stake out the Famitsu website. This may be the best option for people whose Japanese isn’t exactly stellar (like myself), as you can use Google Translate to help navigate and understand what’s being said on the site. Of course the translation isn’t going to be 100% accurate, but it should be enough to help you figure out the general gist of the latest information released on a game. You will be missing out on some reviews and crucial information, but it’s a wonderful way to catch up with the latest Japanese video game news for free. If you’re just checking for the latest scores and you own a Wii or DS, you can always check GoNintendo, which posts the latest review scores for DS and Wii games from Famitsu.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports is all about Idolm@ster.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports reviewed Ooedo Senryoubako for the PSP.

Read [Wired] Site [Famitsu] Site [Play-Asia] Site [YesAsia] Site [NCSX] Site [Himeya Shop] Site [Strapya World]

Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

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