Recognised as one of the biggest video game manufacturers not just in Japan, but worldwide, it’s no wonder that Konami are still running high. Founded in 1969, the firm initially began as a repair and rental business in Osaka for Jukeboxes and arcade cabinets, but by the 1970’s they were designing video games. While Konami is one of the most prominent AAA Japanese developers, its influence in gambling is just as prominent. Arcade games and slot machines worldwide still hold the Konami label, and with an online presence in addition, there’s no denying that Konami is still as popular as it has ever been – just perhaps more quietly. To celebrate Konami’s fruitful past, however, we’re looking back at some of the best and most influential games that Konami has ever released.
If you haven’t heard of Frogger, where have you been? This extremely simple arcade game was released in the early 80’s and has since had quite the staying power, with more than a dozen sequels – 29 to be exact! – being added to the franchise. You play as the frog, crossing over pixel roads, dodging between cars of various speeds and designs, and then across a river of moving logs to reach the safety and comfort of your pond. Its gameplay was hardly anything to marvel, and yet it captured the minds and hearts of many. But is that truly that hard to understand in a world of smartphones? Crossy Road is one of the most popular modern equivalents, though unlike Frogger, it’s an ongoing game with no apparently finish.
Konami have arguably released plenty of games since the original Frogger that are better in design and gameplay, but none have quite the level of Frogger in popularity. There was even a children’s cartoon, which none of the other Konami games have been successful to do, their popularity entirely different to that of this 2D classic.
Known almost entirely for the ‘Konami Code’ that stemmed from the game, Contra is one of their best games of the 80’s. The Konami Code was a sequence of controls (↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A Start) that would reward you with plenty of extra lives, which was definitely necessary in a game as hard as Contra. This game often finds itself at the centre of comparisons to newer games, with seasoned gamers complaining that nowadays, nothing quite has the same difficulty or edge that Contra did. The difficulty was also the reason that this game was one of the biggest adopters of Multiplayer Cooperative play – it was simply too hard for a single player.
With plenty of sequels to keep its legacy alive, the newer additions all still hold onto the same heart that the original game possessed to keep its popularity. But, despite the sequels, the original game still sits as the most popular, and it’s understandable when there didn’t seem to be anything to improve on.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, 1991
Beat ‘em up games were a type of game that was growing in popularity throughout the 90’s, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time certainly kept this style alive. As a franchise, the TMNT were already popular among kids and adults alike, and so it was no wonder that the game took off as well as it did. Its popularity isn’t entirely down to this, however. There are plenty of ninja turtle games, but Turtles in Time is seen as one of the best, and the peak of the series.
A fun soundtrack, brightly coloured graphics and a mixture of platform and beat ‘em up game styles, there is plenty for anyone to enjoy in this game. You can have up to four players, which makes the game perfect for groups of friends, only aiding its innovative nature.
While Final Fantasy beat Konami to the proverbial punch as far as release date was concerned, Suikoden featured over 100 characters who could be potential allies or villains. They all added to the story of the game, in which you fight against the corrupt emperor of the Scarlet Moon Empire. With massive battles and an addictive style of gameplay, it’s no wonder that Suikoden became one of Konami’s best games.
This JRPG was a vast war epic that would allow you to build up HQ and eventually get things like shops, boats and elevators – sometimes even gambling facilities! There were multiple types of combat in a turn-based strategy style.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, 1997
This is probably one of the games that you are most likely to have heard of when it comes to Konami games. They’re still in the process of making more and more Castlevania games, but this particular release was one of the most notable. Offered on PlayStation, Symphony of the Night is widely thought of as the ‘head’ of the franchise. It embraced its classic 2D roots as opposed to taking on a 3D heavy development that had been the downfall of many of its sequels while still introducing plenty of new content.
RPG mechanics and a large, open map gave birth to the term ‘Metroidvania’ in relation to the game, and only proved to catch attentions all the more. It even offered the chance to save your game so you wouldn’t need to play it all at once – something that the original Castlevania just didn’t have!
Metal Gear Solid, 1999
Of all the games Konami has made, this is one of the best that is still standing and releasing well-made and addictive games even today. Even if there is no game about to come out, Konami will always have some kind of set up at conventions, and their characters appear in all kinds of crossovers and it’s easy to see why. A record-breaking franchise, this game innovated the shooter genre, and only served to improve on ‘stealth’ video games, with its camera use influencing plenty of games being released today.
The complex story caught attentions for hours on end, truly adding to the idea of console gaming being a hobby. It was unheard of for a shooter to have such an intricate plot beforehand, but nowadays a game of this genre would be names redundant if it didn’t have one.
Silent Hill 2, 2001
Quite possibly one of the best horror franchises around, Silent Hill has essentially defined the horror genre as it is known today. Fog used in horror games was heavily influenced by Silent Hill – all because it needed to mask its draw distances! It was thought of as the pinnacle of horror for so long, and it’s a shame that today’s instalments are falling short of the greatness of the first few games.
Silent Hill 2 greatly outranks its predecessor despite drawing on its atmosphere and storyline. This sequel only increased the fear factor, however. The monsters of Silent Hill are famous for being terrifying, and the stuff of nightmares, where even the ‘joke’ alternative endings couldn’t soothe you. One joke ending revealed that a dog had been controlling everything all along, and another being that he’d been abducted by aliens! But despite their humour, it doesn’t settle anyone any when you’ve been face to face with the fear of Silent Hill 2.