Famitsu, Japan’s biggest game magazine and Japanese gamers’ main source of industry information, has announced that another game has just gotten a perfect score from their writers, 40/40. Only a few games have received a perfect score from the famed Japanese game magazine. The games that have received a 40/40 are: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Soulcalibur, Vagrant Story, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Nintendogs, Final Fantasy XII, Super Smash Bro. Brawl, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots 428, Dragon Quest IX, Monster Hunter Tri, Bayonetta, New Super Mario Bros Wii, and the newest member to this exclusive list, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. To be in such a list is an honor and a privilege, nothing out of the ordinary from Famistu. One writer, thinks otherwise and is saying that their reviews cannot be trusted, bringing some really convincing evidence why their scores cannot be trusted.
Kotaku’s Senior Contributing Editor for Japan, Brian Ashcraft, reports that although Famitsu is notorious for giving a few games either near perfect (39/40) or perfect (40/40) scores, they might have crossed the line when reviewing Peace Walker. “Famitsu's handling of MGS: Peace Walker, however, has been blunt and brazen, and destroys any illusion of impartial reviews. Forever,” writes Mr. Ashcraft in his article. At first it may seem like just another writer sounding off on Famitsu and how they “review” games, but unlike other writers Mr. Ashcraft brings up some really good points as to why people shouldn’t take too much stock from Famitsu reviews.
In an earlier article covering the announcement of Peace Walker’s corporate sponsors, it was stated that Famitsu was to be one of the many corporate tie inns that will be appearing in the game. Nothing unusual, for MGS always had some type of magazine sponsors in the games as items. “But what does it mean when the publication that is reviewing game is involved in the game itself?” Mr. Ashcraft asks the readers of Kotaku. He explains at first it seems harmless enough, a cross promotion between the brands, but it more that than. Which bring in the second point; Hirokazu Hamamura, former editor of chief and current president of Enterbrain, the company that publishes Famitsu, appears in an ad campaign for Peace Walker. Mr. Ashcraft points out, although the importance of Hamamura in the Japanese gaming industry, the Famitsu review makes no mention of his involvement with the ad and no mention of their involvement with their being in the game as well.
Brian Ashcraft’s article boils down to this: “Even if the game does appear to be fantastic, the review appears bought. It needlessly dirties up what could very well be a great game — a game that should stand alone on its own merit.” Mr. Ashcraft’s statements do bring up great concerns about how a reviews magazine should conduct its self when doing business with software companies. That a game should be able to garner good reviews and earn that perfect score on its own through story and game play. This is a message that all game reviewer magazines and sites should take into consideration, not just Famitsu.
There is one thing that readers need to remember about Famitsu; they cater to the Japanese gamers and not gamers as a whole. This is how business is done over in Japan, no matter how much it looks like to be selling out. As I stated in a previous article, the more exposure a game has in Japan, the higher the sales will be when it is released. Yes numbers are nice to look at and it does feel good to see a game get the score we want it to get. It all comes down our own personal judgment.
- Mike V.