Cover art for the first issue of Famitsū magazine (then known as Famicom Tsūshin), June 1986.
|Frequency||Weekly / Monthly|
|Format||Paper and online magazine|
80,000 (Connect! On)
|Publisher||Enterbrain, Inc., Tokuma|
|First issue||June 1986|
Famitsu (ファミ通 Famitsū, formerly Famicom Tsūshin) is a line of Japanese video game magazines published by Enterbrain, Inc. and Tokuma. Famitsu is published in both weekly and monthly formats as well as in the form of special topical issues devoted to only one console, video game company, or other theme. Shūkan Famitsū (週刊ファミ通, lit. "Weekly Famitsū"), the original Famitsū publication, is considered the most widely read and respected video game news magazine in Japan. From October 28, 2011 Enterbrain began releasing the digital version of the magazine exclusively on BookWalker weekly.
The first issue of Famitsū was published on June 6, 1986 as Famicom Tsūshin (ファミコン通信, lit. "Famicom News"). It was published semiregularly thereafter, going through periods of monthly, bimonthly, and quarterly publication. On July 19, 1991 (issue #136) the magazine was renamed to Shūkan Famicom Tsūshin (週刊ファミコン通信, lit. "Weekly Famicom News") and issues were published weekly thereafter. Alongside the weekly magazine, a monthly version called Gekkan Famicom Tsūshin (月刊ファミコン通信, lit. "Monthly Famicom News") was also published. At the start of 1996 (with issue #369) the magazines underwent another name change, truncating their titles to Shūkan Famitsū (週刊ファミ通, lit. "Weekly Famitsū") and Gekkan Famitsū (月刊ファミ通).
Shūkan Famitsū and Gekkan Famitsū
The name Famitsū is a portmanteau abbreviation of Famicom Tsūshin (ファミコン通信, officially translated as Famicom Journal); the word "Famicom" itself comes from a portmanteau abbreviation of "Family Computer" (the Japanese name for the Nintendo Entertainment System)—the dominant video game console in Japan during the 1980s. The first issue was published on June 6, 1986. Today, Shūkan Famitsū features multi-platform coverage. Shūkan Famitsū is a weekly publication concentrating on video game news and reviews, and is published every Thursday with a circulation of 500,000 per issue. Gekkan Famitsū is published monthly.
Necky the Fox
Famitsū magazine covers alternately feature pop idols or actresses on even-numbered issues and the Famitsū mascot, Necky (ネッキー Nekkī) the Fox in odd-numbered issues. Year-end and special editions all feature Necky dressed as popular contemporary video game characters. Necky is the cartoon creation of artist Susumu Matsushita, and he takes the form of a costumed fox. The costumes worn by Necky reflect current popular video games. Necky's name was chosen according to a reader poll, and it derives from a complex Japanese pun: "Necky" is actually the reverse of the Japanese word for fox, kitsune (キツネ), and his original connection to Famicom Tsūshin is intended to evoke the bark of the fox, the Japanese onomatopoeia of which is "kon kon" (コンコン). Necky makes a cameo appearance in Super Mario Maker.
Special topic Famitsūs
Famitsū publishes other magazines dedicated to particular consoles. Currently in circulation are:
- Entamikusu (エンタミクス) (previously Otonafami (オトナファミ)) is written for an older audience and covers retrogaming. It has been published monthly since November 2010.
- Famitsū Connect! On (ファミ通コネクト!オン) reports on online gaming.
- Famitsū DS+Wii (ファミ通DS+Wii) reports on Nintendo platforms (currently the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U). The magazine was formerly known as Famitsū 64 and then Famitsū Cube (among other variations of those two names) based on whatever platforms Nintendo was producing games for at the time.
- Famitsū GREE (ファミ通GREE) reports on mobile gaming via GREE.
- Famitsū Mobage (ファミ通Mobage) reports on mobile gaming via Mobage.
Former special topics
Famitsū spin-offs that are no longer in circulation include:
- Famitsū Bros. (ファミ通ブロス) (previously Famicom Tsūshin Kōryaku Special) was written for younger audiences and concentrated on video game hints and strategy. It was published monthly and went defunct in September 2002.
- Famicomi (ファミコミ) (previously Famitsū Comic) was a comic and manga magazine published irregularly between 1992 and 1995.
- Famitsū DC (ファミ通DC) reported on Sega platforms news and covered the Dreamcast. Previous incarnations of this magazine included Sega Saturn Tsūshin which covered the Sega Saturn, with earlier issues covering earlier Sega platforms.
- Famitsū Sister (ファミ通Sister) covered bishōjo games.
- Satellaview Tsūshin (サテラビュー通信) covered the Satellaview. It was published monthly and ran for only 12 issues from May 1995 to May 1996. Its inaugural issue was the May 1995 issue of Gekkan Famicom Tsūshin.
- Virtual Boy Tsūshin (バーチャルボーイ通信) covered the Virtual Boy. Only one issue was ever published in 1995.
- Famitsū PS (ファミ通PS) (previously PlayStation Tsūshin) began publication in May 1996, and reported on Sony platforms news. It was later known as Famitsū PS2 and Famitsū PSP+PS3 before being discontinued in March 2010.
- Famitsū Wave DVD (ファミ通WaveDVD) (previously GameWave DVD) covered events, film, and previews. Each magazine included a DVD disc (NTSC Region 2) with video game footage. It was published monthly and went defunct in May 2011.
- Famitsū Xbox 360 (ファミ通Xbox) reported on Xbox and Xbox 360 news. It went defunct in 2013.
Video games are graded in Famitsū via a "Cross Review" in which a panel of four video game reviewers each give a score from 0 to 10 (with ten indicating the best game). The scores of the four reviewers are then added up for a maximum possible score of 40. From the twenty three games awarded with a perfect score as of 2016, three are for the Nintendo DS and five are for the Wii. The PlayStation 3 also has five games with a perfect score and the Xbox 360 has four, with both consoles having four titles in common. The others are for different platforms with only one title each. Franchises with multiple perfect score winners include The Legend of Zelda and Metal Gear, with three titles each, and Final Fantasy with two titles.
As of 2016, every game but two with a perfect score are from a Japanese company, eight of them being published/developed by Nintendo, four by Square Enix, three by Sega, three by Konami and one by Capcom. As of 2016, the only two completely foreign games to achieve a perfect score are The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda Softworks and Grand Theft Auto V, from Rockstar Games. Other foreign games that have achieved near-perfect scores are L.A. Noire, Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV – all three of which came from Rockstar Games; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – all from Activision, although published by Square Enix in Japan; and Gears of War 3 from Epic Games. (Kingdom Hearts II is a joint effort between Square Enix and the U.S.-based Buena Vista Games.)
Famitsu administers the Famitsu awards. Video games receive a number of different awards in categories like Innovation, Biggest Hit, Rookie Award, Highest Quality, etc. One or two "Game of the Year" awards are granted as the top prize. Top prize winners are determined by a combination of critical and fan review scores as well as sales figures.
Relationship with other magazines
UK trade magazine MCV and Famitsu have an exclusive partnership which sees news and content from each magazine appear in the other.
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- Martin Picard (December 2013). "The Foundation of Geemu: A Brief History of Early Japanese video games". International Journal of Computer Game Research. 13 (2). Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- Ashcraft, Brian. Gaming Magazine Totally Snubs Xbox 360!?. Kotaku. 4 February 2008.
- Gifford, Kevin. 'Game Mag Weaseling': Japan Mag Roundup 2008. GameSetWatch. 27 April 2008.
- 'Necky the Fox' 今も尚輝き続ける松下進の代表的キャラクター. SusumuMatsushita.net. 10 July 2004.
- Gifford, Kevin. Weekend Factyard: Famitsu/Famicom Tsushin MagWeasel. 19 September 2009.
- Calvert, Darren. "Super Mario Maker DLC Confirmed, Famitsu's Mascot Necky The Fox Coming Soon". Nintendo Life. Gamer Network. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
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