Let's not beat around the bush here: Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu is no stranger to critical controversy. The publication's incredibly rare 40/40 "perfect" review scores always manage to spark debate, and in the past, Famitsu has been accused of being a little unethical. After all, this is pretty much the biggest gaming outlet in Japan, and its advertising space has been acquired by many, many successful titles over the many years that it's been in circulation.
Controversy has once again caught up with Famitsu this week after the publication gave Death Stranding a perfect 40/40. Not a huge deal in itself since numerous gaming sites -- including Push Square -- also gave Hideo Kojima's latest top marks. However, Japanese fans have started to question the magazine's motives after coming across a certain cameo character in the game.
As Kotaku reports, Hirokazu Hamamura used to be editor in chief at Famitsu, and is now the president of Enterbrain -- the company that publishes Famitsu. Hamamura appears in Death Stranding in the same way that Geoff Keighley and Hermen Hulst do; he's a character that you deliver cargo to. Naturally, upon this discovery, players began asking whether his inclusion is, y'know, a bit dodgy. Again, Hamamura's Famitsu gave Death Stranding the highest review score that it could -- and he also happens to be in the game itself?
Sometimes stuff like this is noted in any kind of critical observation, often as a disclaimer. However, nothing like that exists in Famitsu's review of Death Stranding. It's easy to see why some players are asking questions.
Things get even more questionable when you realise that Hamamura has a history of collaborating with certain games. For example, Hamamura appears in 428: Shibuya Scramble -- originally a Nintendo Wii title that only released in Japan -- and guess what? Famitsu gave that a 40/40 as well. On top of that, Hamamura's worked with Kojima before, at least to some extent. He appeared in the Famitsu ad campaign for PSP release Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a title which claimed another one of the publication's rare 40/40 review scores. It's difficult not to raise an eyebrow when you add all of this together.
According to Kotaku, there's quite a big stink surrounding this whole thing in Japan, especially online. It'll be interesting to see whether anything more comes of this over the next few weeks.