I was in Osaka the other day and found a collection of old magazines. I happened to find a massive collection of old issues of Famitsu. I bought a few issues and wanted to share my pickups. This is a weekly issue from November in 1991! This issue of Famitsu is pretty old, which means we’re likely to find some old gaming treasures inside. I’m basically time traveling by flipping through this magazine. At this point, you can probably call this a retro game magazine. I flipped through it and took some photos of some of the things I thought would be interesting to share. Let’s take a look!
Famitsu, the world’s longest running game magazine
For those that can read Japanese, the actual title of this magazine is “ファミコン通信” or Famicom News. The magazine’s title eventually changed to what we all now know is “ファミ通” or Famitsu.
Looking at the cover: We’ve got Famitsu’s fox character wearing Link’s costume from Zelda. To his right is the headline “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” With a subheading mentioning the walkthrough and a map of the game.If you were a Japanese gamer in 1991, you probably couldn’t wait to buy this issue. To the left of the Famitsu mascot, the headline says something about a “cartridge index”, which I am assuming is a list of all released game cartridges.
Ok, here’s an interesting article. It mentions that formula one racer Ayrton Senna gave advice to the development team at Sega for the game “Super Monaco GP II”. The article states that he explained techniques as well as helped with some of the tracks in the game. In 1991, it was actually really cool for a celebrity to have an interest in video games. Senna is quoted by the Japanese press as saying he wanted to use his racing experience to help contribute to children’s entertainment.
Famitsu Weekly Top 30
Next we have the top 30 selling video games for that week, which includes the NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and Gameboy. Here’s the list translated:
- Ghosts and Goblins (SNES)
- NES Open Tournament Golf (NES)
- SD Gundam Side Story: Knight Gundam Story 2 Knight of Light (NES)
- Final Fantasy IV (SNES)
- Chibi Maruko’s Delightful Shopping (NES)
- Go for it, Goemon! (SNES)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
- Commando II (Genesis)
- Super Mario Land (Gameboy)
- Battle Dodgeball (SNES)
- Super Mario World (SNES)
- Pro Baseball Major League (Genesis)
- F-Zero (SNES)
- Smart Ball (SNES)
- Nakajima Satoru F1 Hero 2 (NES)
- Family Circuit ’91 (NES)
- Dragon Ball Z II Super God Freeza (NES)
- Megaman World (Genesis)
- Sim City (SNES)
- Young boy Ashibe’s Theme Park Panic (Gameboy)
- Dr. Mario (Gameboy)
- Magical Taluluto (Gameboy)
- Super Romance of the Three Kingdoms (SNES)
- Final Fight (SNES) (SNES)
- Wizardy Gaiden I (Gameboy)
- Aretha II (Gameboy)
- Spartan X2 (NES)
- Pro Soccer (SNES)
- SD Gundam Capsule Toy Knight 3 (NES)
- Final Fantasy Adventure (Gameboy)
There are more lists such as “Most anticipated”, “Readers’ Choice” and the last one being the US’s top 10 selling games of that week.
Famitsu tackles Rockman 4
Take a look at this! This article is introducing Rockman 4 (Megaman 4) to readers. The writers are wondering why new Rockman games are still being released on the Nintendo Entertainment System and not the new Super Nintendo. With that comment aside, the article points out a new feature in the Rockman series, charged up shots. That’s right, the charged shot first appeared in Rockman 4.
There is also an explanation on Rockman’s new friend, Edy. Dr. Light developed a new companion to help Rockman on his journey to defeat Dr. Wily. The article states that Edy shows up in the middle of stages and he can give you either life energy or a 1-UP, the situation seems to change depending on Rockman’s status.
Even the Japanese staff at Famitsu knew that some of the bosses in Rockman games were sort of goofy. Look at the green character on the right. His name is Toadman. Yeah, I’m real scared.
There’s a headline under him that reads, “Don’t mess with frogs!” Sure man, whatever.
The highest score
Much like Nintendo Power magazine, Famitsu also had scores that people could submit for fame in the magazine. However, it looks like it was restricted to only elementary school and junior high school students. Too bad if you were an adult with great gaming skills. This page is dedicated to a game called Final Soldier for the TurboGrafx-16 (PC Engine in Japan), which is a scrolling shooter that I have never played.
Super retro game ad
Take a look at this two-page advertisement from Enix. It’s so wonderfully radical I couldn’t help myself. It’s advertising three different games, which is probably wiser than only advertising one game at a time. On the right page you can see “Soul Blader” which is Soul Blazer in the US. That’s a really fun game for the Super Nintendo, by the way.
Are old Gundam games fun?
Here is an advertisement for one of the many Gundam games, none of which came to the US. One thing that I started to notice about some of the Japanese game advertisements is they state the space of the cartridge in the ads themselves. If you look under the title of the game, you can see the numbers 8M + 64K SRAM. That’s really interesting because I don’t remember companies in the US ever informing customers of how big their games were, at least during the Super Nintendo days.
The only reason anyone bought this issue
This is a glorious map of the overworld from A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This Famitsu issue was published on the 15th of November and the game would be released on the 21st, so it was probably in everyone’s best interest to scoop up this magazine the week before launch to get a heads up on strategies.
Retro Final Fantasy ad
A two-page advertisement from Square for the game Final Fantasy IV. The headline states “The RPG for everyone” It goes on to explain that there is a setting for beginners to RPGs so they can play an easier game than people wanting a challenge. That’s really a nice feature that I wish more game developers added so newcomers could enjoy the deep stories of these games without grinding too much.
Remember what I said about advertisements including the cartridge size in their promotions? Square is doing that same thing here. Check the upper right hand corner of the page and you’ll see it says 8M + battery back up.
Everyone knows that people interested in video games are also interested in Japanese idols, right? No? Well aparently you’re not Japanese then. Gosh, if only my game magazines would have focused on important game-related topics such as popular idols. That’s right, this section in Famitsu is called “Idol Weekly” where it covers different idols including a handy calendar of when their goods are released. I’m pretty sure I would have skipped this page if it was in my gaming magazine when I was a kid. I suppose I’m just not into the “idol scene”.
Clean your stuff
Hey, here’s a cool advertisement. Do you remember when cartridges didn’t always work when you put them into your game console? I do. That’s when people started telling each other to blow into the cartridges to get rid of the dust. It was only after I grew up that I learned that blowing into cartridges is actually worse for them long term.
This ad is for a cartridge cleaning kit, which my younger obsessive-compulsive self would have loved to see in stores. The ad explains that dust and things can ruin how a game is displayed on the screen. (See the left screenshot) By using the cleaning kit, you can restore the game into working order like the shot on the right.
What can I say, I would totally buy this.
That master sword is holy
This is the back cover of the Famitsu issue. Look how glorious this Nintendo advertisement is! It’s actually the same artwork used on the Japanese game cartridge. The US release had much more boring artwork, in my opinion.
That’s all for this issue of Famitsu, but I do have other issues I picked up, so look forward to future posts of more Famitsu goodness.