It was reported awhile ago that Konami is essentially finished as a big time AAA-game developer. They’ve cancelled game projects, employees like Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima have left the company, and it looks like the company will be putting a lot of focus on mobile and casino games.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I played a Konami game in the modern age… Maybe Silent Hill 2 on PS2? While I may not be a Metal Gear, Dance Dance Revolution or Castlevania fanboy, it’s crazy to think that many employees who worked on those very iconic franchises are now walking away from the company as Konami shifts its focused to more casual gaming. I mean, this is the company that gave us Contra and now they want to make sexed-up pachinko games. Crazy.
Whatever. All of this got me thinking about Konami games I have played and which ones were my favorite. Here’s the list!
Obviously, you can’t have a Konami list without placing Contra somewhere on it. It’s one the greatest run ‘n’ gun game of all time and perfectly ripped off Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Aliens. You can’t get much more ’80s than that. It was originally released as an arcade game in 1987, but it’s the NES version that I think most people remember playing.
There was a time, for whatever reason, ‘Contra’ was a dirty word. This is why the sequel to Contra was simply known as Super C and why there’s a Game Boy game called Operation C. Anyway, I don’t think I ever played Super C growing up. It wasn’t until probably the year 2000 or so that I picked up a used copy of it for $5 at the mall. This was back in the day when NES games were dirt cheap and unwanted. My, how the times have changed! In my opinion, it’s basically just as good as the original but it doesn’t have the benefit of nostalgia working for it like the first game does.
Blades of Steel
I had so much fun with this one. I never owned it, but back in the late ’80s, it was a frequent rental of mine. Of course, the best part was being able to throw hands with the opposing team. I remember thinking, “wow, I can’t believe this is in a video game.” Little did I know just how gory games would later become!
I’m not a huge Castlevania fan. I’ve never been any good at the games. I received this one for Christmas one year and try as I might, I could never get far in it. It’s an iconic franchise with a classic soundtrack though. This one is really here purely based on nostalgia because I did play it a lot, even though I kept dying at the exact same spot.
Originally debuting in the arcades in 1989 and simply called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was re-titled for it’s release on the NES due to Konami releasing another game called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a few years earlier. And make no mistake, it may say “Ultra Games” on the box, but Ultra Games was a company in name only. They were a company created by Konami as a work-around for Nintendo’s strict policy limiting the number of games a publisher could release each year.
Obviously, the arcade version has superior sound and graphics but I still prefer the NES version as it features two extra levels not seen in the arcade port. Still, it’s hard to beat the nostalgic magic of reflecting back to a Saturday afternoon at the local Showbiz Pizza while playing the arcade version.
Beat’em ups/shoot’em ups might just be my favorite type of video games and it was a format that excelled at the arcade. While it’s annoying that there’s no jump button in this game, it’s hard to complain about running around and blasting xenomorphs.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
A follow-up to the arcade TMNT game, this one is really more of the same except it has the Turtles battling foot soldiers are various points in time. It’s done in the same style as the first Konami arcade game and while really fun, it doesn’t match up to the original. I know I’m in the minority when I say that though.
The weird thing is that I don’t remember ever playing this game during it’s original run. It was the original TMNT arcade game that I remember seeing everywhere when I was a kid but I don’t remember seeing this cabinet. It wasn’t until 2006 when I was in little old Manistee, Michigan at the Vogue Theatre where I was finally able to play this game in person.
One of my favorite video games of all time! Much like the first TMNT arcade game, this video game cabinet was everywhere. Of course, you’re going to die in arcade games. A lot. So I never beat this game until much later in my life. I mostly remember playing this in the lobby of the local Carmike 10 movie theater in Lynchburg, VA. That memory led me to this awesome trailer that each Carmike movie opened with, explaining the theater’s policies: https://youtu.be/IUoH5kUIVfg
I still play this game from time to time. It still looks amazing to this day. There were two-player and four-player versions of this cabinet, but it was always the most fun when you had four X-Men running around on screen.
A fun shoot’em up that had a fun conversion to the 16-bit systems.