Famitsu Japanese Game Magazine Nov. 1991

famitsu mandarakeI 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

famitsuFor 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.

Ayrton Senna and Sega?
famitsu ayrton senna article

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

 famitsu weekly top 30 famitsu weekly top 30 part 2

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:

  1. Ghosts and Goblins (SNES)
  2. NES Open Tournament Golf (NES)
  3. SD Gundam Side Story: Knight Gundam Story 2 Knight of Light (NES)
  4. Final Fantasy IV (SNES)
  5. Chibi Maruko’s Delightful Shopping (NES)
  6. Go for it, Goemon! (SNES)
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
  8. Commando II (Genesis)
  9. Super Mario Land (Gameboy)
  10. Battle Dodgeball (SNES)
  11. Super Mario World (SNES)
  12. Pro Baseball Major League (Genesis)
  13. F-Zero (SNES)
  14. Smart Ball (SNES)
  15. Nakajima Satoru F1 Hero 2 (NES)
  16. Family Circuit ’91 (NES)
  17. Dragon Ball Z II Super God Freeza (NES)
  18. Megaman World (Genesis)
  19. Sim City (SNES)
  20. Young boy Ashibe’s Theme Park Panic (Gameboy)
  21. Dr. Mario (Gameboy)
  22. Magical Taluluto (Gameboy)
  23. Super Romance of the Three Kingdoms (SNES)
  24. Final Fight (SNES) (SNES)
  25. Wizardy Gaiden I (Gameboy)
  26. Aretha II (Gameboy)
  27. Spartan X2 (NES)
  28. Pro Soccer (SNES)
  29. SD Gundam Capsule Toy Knight 3 (NES)
  30. Final Fantasy Adventure (Gameboy)

Other lists

famitsu most anticipated famitsu most anticipated 2

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

famitsu 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.

Terrible bosses

famitsu rockman 4 toadman

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

famitsu top scores

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

famitsu enix 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?

famitsu gundam ad

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

famitsu legend of zelda strategy

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

famitsu final fantasy IV 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.

Japanese idols

famitsu idol weekly

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

famitsu catridge clean ad

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

famitsu back cover zelda ad

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.

 

For comparison:

US Version

snes zelda cart

Japanese Version

sfc zelda cart

Wrapping up

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.

8 thoughts on “Famitsu Japanese Game Magazine Nov. 1991”

  1. That was fun to look at. I probably would gobble all that stuff up honestly. Funny, I was actually thinking about gaming magazines about 10 to 15 minutes before reading this. I was just missing the days of getting excited about the new EGM or the new Nintendo Power which were my main news sources for games. Nowadays, it’s the internet. I actually don’t look up many games these days as I used to. I’m not that well-informed about what is going on. There’s also just too much information now available. So many games are coming out that it’s hard to keep track. Console gaming isn’t taking up about 80-90% of the market anymore.

    • I also remember waiting for Nintendo Power to reach my mailbox every month and becoming excited at the new previews of upcoming games. With no videos, all we had were screenshots. It was enough to make my imagination run wild. I also remember sometimes getting my hands on Game Fan magazine. They always showed the coolest games and toys from Japan.

      Happy Console Gamer did a video about it, which is really interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MQHMScj7Xw

      There’s also a site that has a digital scan collection of so many gaming magazines. It’s worth checking out because they have a lot of different magazines you can download. http://www.retromags.com

      • Hi,

        Please is important you search any reference to game “Parasol Stars” in any Famitsu (or not) magazine from <november 90 to solve this:

        http://mamedev.emulab.it/undumped/index.php?title=Parasol_Stars

        "We'd still like to know the origin of the screenshot that unMAMEd displays in their entry on Parasol Stars. We know that it came from the November 1990 issue of Mean Machines magazine. It does not appear to be from the PC Engine version. The rumor has always been that it's a screenshot from the unreleased and never-before-seen arcade version. As a rule, the Mean Machines staff sourced most of their images from copies of Famitsu magazine (or other Japanese magazines) so there's a high probability that the screenshot was lifted from there. Former Mean Machines staff agree."

        Thanks.

  2. “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.” 3 years later I assume this isn’t happening, right?

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