Saturday, February 18, 2012
In 2003, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Famicom, Famitsu magazine in Japan conducted a nation-wide poll to find the country’s 100 all-time favourite Famicom titles. I translated the list for an article on NTSC-uk many years ago, but since being rebranded as Bordersdown all their old articles have been lost. In light of the Famicom’s 30th anniversary next year, and the fact that several HG101 staff have been reading France’s La Bible NES almanac (chronicling every Famicom game ever), I thought it time to repost the list. I’ve made several translation corrections, plus there’s commentary. Heading photo taken from the Famicom Blog.
Like all voted for lists, this won’t necessarily represent the zeitgeist. I’ve no idea how many people took part, how the voting criteria worked, or even who the intended demographic was (current readers, old people, everyone?). When Famitsu was running it I browsed their website and looked through the set-up. It seemed fairly standard, and I’m pretty sure I was able to vote, though they were obviously missing western exclusive titles.
Regardless, with Famitsu being the largest magazine in Japan, and because it was run in conjunction with Nintendo, plus there was a DVD released featuring interviews and commentary, this list stands as Japan’s official statement as to what they regard as the top 100 (or rather 120) games for the system.
Mostly though it’s absurd, baffling, and actually rather dreadful. It re-affirms my belief that democracy as a concept is fundamentally broken, and the general populations of the world are unthinking sheep, utterly incapable of critical thought and in desperate need of a stern authoritative hand to mould them. I also think there’s far too much Dragon Quest in the list.
The list is based on Famicom cartridge games and Disk System titles. There are likely some errors due to my poor translation.
1) Dragon Quest 3
3) SMB 3
4) Final Fantasy 3
5) Dragon Quest 4
6) Dragon Quest 2
7) Dragon Quest
8) Legend of Zelda
10) Mario Bros (not SMB)
The top 10, that hallowed realm of debate and contention. Nearly half the list is Dragon Quest, a whopping 40%. There is though a Dragon Quest clone in the form of Mother, effectively filling half, with DQ’s main Final Fantasy filling the list with another turn-based RPG. And Mother is the only one which is remotely interesting. Then there’s a action-RPG in the form of Zelda, effectively making 70% of this list an RPG of some form. The remaining three games are all Mario-based platformers, with no.10 being that horrible single-screen title with the POW block.
As the crowning titles for the list, this is not a great start and highlights the obsession Japan has (or certainly had) with RPGs and Dragon Question in particular. As HG101 once stated though, in a Crank Gamer’s entry, all the Dragon Quest games are garbage. Yes, I said it, and yes, I went there.
11) Final Fantasy
13) Downtown Special - Kunio Kun no Jidaigeki Dayo Zenin Shuugou! (Kunio in Feudal Japan)
14) Downtown Nekketsu Koushin Kyoku: Soreyuke Dai Undoukai (Kunio sports)
15) Spartan X (Kung-Fu)
16) SMB 2 (Lost Levels)
17) Nekketsu Koukou Dodgeball Club (Kunio Dodgeball)
18) Final Fantasy 2
19) Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryuu to Hikari no Ken
20) Sanma no Meitantei (visual novel)
22) Ice Climber
24) Akumajou Dracula (Castlevania)
27) Captain Tsubasa
28) Konami Wai Wai World
30) Takeshi no Chousejou (Takeshi “Beat” Kitano kusoge)
The list starts to get interesting from 11 onwards, with several beat-em-ups and sports titles, especially those by Technos which are excellent, plus a lot of great games which would probably make the top 20 of a US-based list. There’s a couple of weird choices, like the awful Spelunker, and super kusoge Takeshi no Chousenjou, but maybe some older people were feeling nostalgic. Unfortunately entry 31 reminds us that this list is ridiculous by featuring the compilation cartridge of FF 1&2, despite FF1 coming in at 11 and FF2 coming in at 18. Whoever collated the votes should have found a solution so as to omit this. Either by compiling FF1 and FF2 votes into one, ignoring all compilation votes, or perhaps collating them separately and then splitting them evenly between FF1 and 2.
31) Final Fantasy 1+2 (compilation cartridge)
32) Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Yuji Horii visual novel)
33) Nekketsu Kouha Kunio Kun (Renegade)
35) Ganbare Goemon
37) Donkey Kong
38) Okhotsk ni Kiyu - Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin (visual novel)
39) Pro Yakkyu Family Stadium (baseball game)
41) Dr Mario
42) Metal Gear
44) Fire Emblem Gaiden
45) SMB USA
46) Dai 2 Ji Super Robot Taisen
48) Rockman 2
49) Kunio Kun no Nekketsu Soccer League
The top 50 is rounded off with further Technos games, proving just how popular the company’s Kunio series was. I’m pleased to see this, because all of the Kunio games, with the exception of Renegade, were incredibly awesome. The big surprise of course is that SMB USA ranked 45, despite in fact being a sprite reskin of Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic. Who says the Japanese don’t like American games, hey?
51) Captain Tsubasa 2 Super Striker
53) Kinnikuman Muscle Tag Match (aka M.U.S.C.L.E)
54) Star Soldier
55) Dragon Ball Z
56) Tower of Druaga
57) Dragon Ball Z II - Gekigami Freeze!!
58) SD “Gundam” Gachapon 2
59) Dragon Ball Z Gaiden Saya-jin Zetsumetsu Keikaku
60) Takahashi Meijin no Boukenjima (Adventure Island)
Man, that’s a lot of Dragon Ball hovering around the 60 mark. It makes me question the score tallying. Did a few guys all submit 100% Dragon Ball lists? How many people voted? What explanation could there be for such a close grouping of similarly themed titles? The Dragon Quest stuff in the top 10 I can understand, because everyone would have voted for them. But a grouping so low down the list would imply... Those who studied Statistics in college, post in the comments section.
61) Ghosts 'n' Goblins
62) Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari
63) Hatori Kun
64) Metal Slader Glory
65) Lode Runner
67) Balloon Fight
68) Famicom Tantei Club 2: Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo Kouhen (visual novel)
69) Valkyrie no Bouken - Tokinokagi Densetsu
70) Momotarou Densetsu: Peachboy Legend
I just want to point out, Momotarou Densetsu (70) is entirely different to Momotarou Dentetsu (73). The first is an RPG, the second a board game. The fact two such similarly named titles are clumped together makes me think very few voted, and those that did must have all put them together on their list.
71) Akumajou Densetsu (Castlevania III)
72) Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link
73) Momotarou Dentetsu (board game)
75) Meikyu Kumikyoku: Milon no daibouken (Milon’s Secret Castle)
76) Rockman 5
77) Rockman 3
78) Hanjuku Hero
79) Dragon Ball Z 3
80) Famista ‘89 – Kaimaku Ban!!
81) Famicom Tantei Club 2: Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo Zenpen (visual novel)
82) Kaijuu Monogatari
83) Famicom Wars
84) Family Jockey
85) Rockman 6
86) Dragon Ball
87) Rockman 4
88) Ganbare Goemon 2
89) SD Gundam Gaiden: Knight Gundam Monogatari
90) Legend of Kage
91) Sweet Home (pseudo-prequel to Biohazard)
92) Famicom Jump
93) Yoshi no Tamago (Yoshi’s Egg)
94) Dragon Ball 3
95) Famicom Tantei Club: Kieta Koukeisha Kouhen
96) Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star)
97) Famicom Tantei Club Kieta Koukeisha Zenpen
98) Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu (4p brawler)
99) Gundam Z Hot Scramble
100) Gradius 2
And there we have it. The final lot included most Megaman games, plus quite a few visual novels, plus another Technos Kunio game. For whatever reason, they also decided to include an unnumbered “Select 20” list. I’m not entirely sure of the criteria for including them, but they were originally in Japanese alphabetical order.
Atlantis no Nazo
Clu Clu Land
Donkey Kong Junior
Kanshaku Tamanage Kantarou no Toukaidou Gojuusan-tsugi
Nuts and Milk
Route 16 Turbo
Yie are Kung-Fu
The entire list is odd, with many strange additions and many even stranger omissions. There wasn’t a single Ninja Gaiden (Ninja Ryukenden) title in the list. Did no one have any fondness for the series? What about Legacy of the Wizard (Dragon Slayer IV)? And why are there so many crappy first entries in a series listed, such as Bomberman, despite the sequels being so much better?
This represents roughly 10% of the entire Famicom back-catalogue. That’s one in every ten games represented. And remember, the Famicom was the foundation of Japanese console gaming even more strongly than the NES was for the US. Production of the systems lasted for two decades (1983-2003). Some of the biggest franchises started on it. The word Famicom itself became synonymous with the idea of home video games. Well, obviously NEC’s home computer ranger was also important to Japan, but for consoles the Famicom wasn’t so much king, as rather Zeus himself.
Do the Japanese have bad taste? It’s hard to say – they had more games than the US, but the US also had many exclusives the Japanese did not see, such as Jurassic Park and GI Joe, both of which were pretty great. Each country was conditioned towards specific games and types of games by availability and the marketing push of publishers. Because of region specific exclusivity, I’d argue that the countries best suited to make judgement on the best games were actually those which existed solely on bootlegs from all regions – where one had access to almost everything.
More importantly, readers of Hardcore Gaming 101, what do you think of the top 120 as chosen by Japan, to represent itself? Post in the comments or on our forums. The list may be out of date by 10 years, but if they were to revote for the 30th, I don’t think there’d be that much change.