This Week in Japan: Final Fantasy Special
It’s arrived, and to celebrate, Next Generation looks at FFXII and the story of one of the great franchises in gaming history.
This week’s Famitsu has big news — Persona 3 is coming out for PlayStation 2. Wow. I didn’t see that one coming. And I’m hardly being facetious. I really didn’t see it coming.
Though I suppose that’s not the biggest news. The big news is Final Fantasy XII — or, at least, that’s what this particular issue will be remembered for. For only the sixth time in the magazine’s 900-year history, a game has scored a perfect score of 40 out of 40 — that’s all four reviewers scoring the game 10 out of 10.
The other five games to score this perfect score were Soul Calibur for Dreamcast, Vagrant Story for PlayStation, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time for Nintendo 64, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for Nintendo Gamecube, and most recently Nintendogs for Nintendo DS.
The scores in Famitsu are, lightly put, very obsessed over. It used to be that a score of "10" was unheard of. Two 10s was even more unheard of. Three would be a miracle. And four was seen as impossible. When that first perfect score hit (for The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time in 1998), the news was earth-shattering.
No one could believe it — yet, at the same time, no one doubted it for a second. The game went on to be a blockbuster. The next game to get the perfect score was Soul Calibur, in 1999. This was the fighting game that launched the Dreamcast, and, seven years ago, was the first game to star graphics that look like games today still kind of do. The game had obviously wowed reviewers on human levels, and the readers had little to argue about.
The next game to score a perfect was just one year later — Vagrant Story. Famitsu had been hyping the game for weeks before its release.
The fans did not revolt against Vagrant Story’s induction into the hall of fame. They took it to mean, merely, that Famitsu’s hype of the game up until that point had been done out of genuine enthusiasm.
Now, when The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, controversial for graphics that aspired more to cartoons than to the photorealism certain types of gamers require, scored a perfect 40 in 2003, this was deemed as low and foul. Fans cried bloody murder — they’re only giving it a 40 because it’s a Zelda game, they said. Famitsu’s credibility as judges of quality was questioned. I think some people cried.