As of this writing, Konami has yet to announce their intention to stop developing games for home consoles. And yet, rumors of this have come from multiple sources now. If you consider what happened recently – the cancellation of Silent Hills, the removal of its playable demo P.T. from PlayStation Network, and the lack of news regarding any games being developed – it really looks like the writing is on the wall for the renowned third party developer.
Rest in peace, Konami.
I’ll let everyone else deal with how this will impact the video gaming scene and instead, reminisce about Konami developed video games that were quite memorable for me. You see, I’ve been playing games for close to two decades now and Konami has been there with me all throughout, providing me with games that I really enjoyed.
Just to set expectations – in writing this article, I relied completely on memory and avoided checking on any other articles or reference materials so some details may be inaccurate. It’s been a long time since I played these games, after all. I also limited this list to one list per game franchise simply because I don’t want to talk about five different Contra games.
Alright, let’s get started!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (Nintendo Entertainment System)
When I got my Famicom, the first game that I bought was a 4-in-1 bootleg cartridge. I chose that cartridge because of two games: the Street Fighter 2-knockoff Master Fighter 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. That day, I stayed up late with my cousin, playing a two player game of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II until 4 AM in the morning. This is notable because of several things: my cousin was significantly older than me, is female, and wasn’t someone who enjoyed video games particularly. Her being so engaged in the game, playing it with me for hours (and I mean HOURS), should be proof enough on how good this game was.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is actually very simple, especially if you compare it to contemporaries like Double Dragon. But because of its simplicity, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II was the first game that really thought me how to be smart when it comes to playing video games. I learned how to analyze attack patterns of different enemies, especially bosses, in order to defeat them. I learned how to use the game’s rules to my advantage, finding out that it is much easier to beat this game alone than on two player co-op (has to do with the scoring system and how you earn lives in the game).
For a game released on the NES, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II still looks visually impressive.
In addition to the solid game mechanics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II had it’s IP going for it – TMNT was a popular franchise during the time this was released. It helps that the game adhered closely to its source material, utilizing several characters and environments from the animated series. Later on, Konami would end up releasing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, which was superior to this game in all aspects. But Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II was the game that made me fall in love with the side-scrolling beat ’em up video game genre, which is a genre that I enjoy up to this day.
Metal Warriors (Super Nintendo Entertainment System)
I don’t even remember exactly how I came across Metal Warriors. I think I was just checking out SNES ROMs alphabetically, looking for games to play. Before I started playing Metal Warriors, I knew nothing about it. At first, Metal Warriors plays out like a generic mech side scrolling shooter game with level design that looks to be inspired by Metroid/Castlevania. But the more I played it the more I saw how well-made it was.
For starters, instead of a visible health bar, your mech would start showing physical damage as you lose health. If your mech takes too much damage it’ll explode and you die, but you have the option to actually leave your mech and play as a really tiny human with weak-ass guns. In human form, you’re highly vulnerable (everything can and will kill you), but if you find an unmanned mech you can go inside it and start piloting it. There are six different types of mechs, each with its own capabilities that you’ll have to play differently.
I’m not a fan of anything mecha but I loved playing Metal Warriors.
I don’t remember specific details about the single player campaign, but what still stands out to me today is how this game was very engaging and intense, especially when faced with the choice of exiting my damage mech and risking being vulnerable as a human or sticking with it in the hopes that it will sustain enough damage until I find a health refill or another mech. What I do remember clearly is this game also had a two player VS mode where each player can choose between the six different mechs and battle it out one on one, which really added to this game’s replay value.
I don’t know why Metal Warriors wasn’t talked about more back in the day, and I don’t know why Konami didn’t follow this game with sequels. Maybe it’s because this game was developed by LucasArts and only published in the States by Konami? I’m just glad I came across this game when I did, because Metal Warriors is definitely one of my top ten SNES games of all time.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (Game Boy Advance)
Will any list of good Konami games be complete without the mention of a Castlevania game? Of course not! But unlike what most people would expect to read, I’m not going to talk about titles like Symphony of the Night or Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse because I never had the chance to play those games. Unlike most people, the Castlevania game that was most memorable for me is the first Game Boy Advance entry of the series – Circle of the Moon.
Circle of the Moon was the best game for me to get into the Castlevania series. It had a lot of elements taken from the original Castlevania, such as the use of a whip as a primary weapon and the signature Castlevania secondary weapons like the throwing dagger and holy water. It also had some of what made Symphony of the Night really good, such as cutscenes with dialogue and special abilities that you can gain which would allow you to access otherwise unreachable areas of the castle.
Circle of the Moon was the first of many good Castlevania games to be released on Nintendo handhelds.
On a more personal level, what really made Circle of the Moon work for me was it’s protagonist, Nathan Graves. In a similar way that I wasn’t a fan of Castlevania prior to playing this game, Nathan Graves was not a decendant of the Belmonts – the family of vampire killers that the Castlevania series revolved around. In some weird way, this made Nathan more relatable to me as I did not share the same reverence for this franchise that longtime Castlevania fans had.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is not the best Castlevania game that I’ve had the pleasure of playing, but it was the game that sold me on the series and got me to play the sequels that followed it.
Percussion Freaks 2nd Mix (Arcade)
As early as 2001, while most of my peers would venture towards Dance Dance Revolution machines, I would be spending my quarters on another similar music-related arcade machine. Rather than dancing my blues away, I was burning calories by pretending to be a drummer in a rock band on a Percussion Freaks machine.
Percussion Freaks is a rhythm game that simulated the experience of playing drums through the combination of utilizing controls that mimicked the layout of an actual drum kit and songs with graphical cues to signal players when to hit which “drum” in accordance to the music that’s being played.
Because of the way the drum pads were arranged, Percussion Freaks offered a realistic simulation of real life drumming.
Unlike Dance Dance Revolution, I appreciated playing on Percussion Freaks’ drum pads because it offered me an experience that was really close to actual drumming, making Percussion Freaks all the more memorable for me. I was a frustrated musician wanna be – I wanted to play music but didn’t have the needed skills nor the time to learn them. Percussion Freaks allowed me that experience, and I enjoyed playing this game so much that I ended up frequenting our local arcades more and more.
Making video games that used controls that were similar to musical instruments was such a good video gaming idea that a few years later was implemented for home systems via the Guitar Hero and the Rock Band series of video games. Before those games though, I got my musical fix from my local arcades thanks to Percussion Freaks.
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
Nowadays, if you mention the name Konami, the video game franchise that is likely to come to mind is probably Metal Gear Solid. Konami has a lot of IPs like Contra and Castlevania but none of them made the transition to modern video games as well as the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Most of the Metal Gear Solid titles were released on Sony’s different video game consoles so I almost missed out on this franchise.
Thankfully, Konami threw Nintendo console owners a bone by releasing two enhanced remakes of Metal Gear Solid games – Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for the Gamecube and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. I was fortunate to have played both these games and liked both of them a lot but if I were to choose only one of these, I’d have give the edge to Snake Eater 3D.
This isn’t a spoiler if you don’t know exactly what’s going on, right?
Snake Eater 3D had a lot of good things going for it – a protagonist that I could relate more to (Naked Snake vs Solid Snake), an antagonist that was more interesting in my eyes (The Boss vs Liquid Snake), and a storyline that essentially preceded all of the Metal Gear titles. I don’t want to say anything more to avoid spoiling both games for anyone who hasn’t played them yet so yeah, Snake Eater 3D is the Metal Gear Solid title that I’ll remember the most.
And there you have it, five games that Konami had a hand in making that I enjoyed. Konami definitely made significant contributions to the video game industry and it’s sad to see this company’s current state. Regardless of what’s in store for Konami’s future, I’m thankful for the memorable video gaming experiences that they gave me.
What are your most memorable Konami developed video games? Share your thoughts with us by leaving your comments below!