Famicom Tsuushin All Game Catalog 1991
Length: 160 pages
From: Famicom Tsuushin staff/ASCII Publishing, 1991

Famicom Tsuushin was one of the main Japanese video-gaming magazines during the beginning of the Nintendo era in the 80s. They're still around today (under the abbreviated name Famitsu), but their main boon to FC collectors across the globe were the All Game Catalogs they released in regular intervals.

This one was released in 1991; similar All Game Catalogs were released in 1993 and 1995. Inside is listed... basically... every single cartridge-based video game released for every system since the Famicom era, with screenshot, release info and capsule review. Needless to say, a very useful book if you have the Japanese knowledge to use it.

In a way, each All Game Catalog is a snapshot of the Japanese video game scene of the time. Take this 1991 edition. The Famicom is still king at the beginning of the year, with 933 entries in the book. The only consoles making any serious inroad to the FC's popularity are the PC Engine, with 239 entries, and the Game Boy with 153. After that are the also-rans; the Mega Drive with only 93 games, the Game Gear with 16 and the Lynx (yah, they released the Lynx in Japan) with 15.

The console with the lowest cartridge count? The Super Famicom, with only 10 games released by the press time of this book. You can imagine how the scenario changed with future editions.

Here's a typical entry from the book; this one is for Tecmo Bowl. The first thing above is the rating the editors gave (3 out of 5 stars - only the true classics like SMB and Metroid get five). After that is the game title, a screenshot, and a quick description of the game, describing how all the players on all 12 teams are based on real player data and the different action and coach modes.

After that is a quick overview of the good points and the bad points of the game. For Tecmo Bowl, the editors liked the realism of the players and graphics, but didn't like how all of the screen messages were still in English, as well as the difficulty of the game if you didn't remember the various plays.

Finally, on the far bottom are the boring statistics for the game, such as the game maker, date of release (November 11, 1990), price (6900 yen), what media the game was released in (cartridge, battery-backup cartridge or Disk System card), and type of game (Sports).

Multiply this one listing by 12 listings per page, and about 140 pages of listings, and you'll get an idea of how useful this book is. This book is great for just curling up with and thumbing through for awhile, and it's indispensible for diehard fans of obscure Japanese systems and games. Some of the entries are pretty funny - in the listing for Mother, the writer lists "Your father is irresponsible" as one of the bad points! Hopefully I'll run into a more recent edition that lists every released Famicom game, like the 1995 one does.

Thx: Joseph Drain