I was looking back over some of my favourite retro games, and it made me realise what a back catalogue Konami have and how criminally underutilised it has been. Sure there have been a few compilations, but they have not contained enough games or games of quality, and I would love to see something akin to the Rare Collection come out from Konami. It seemed like a pretty good reason to put together an ideal compilation list. Hopefully, it will stir up some memories for you all as it did me. In no particular order!
Rocket Knight Adventures
I never actually owned this game but played it a lot as a youngster round my friend’s house and from borrowing it off him. Sparkster the mouses’ adventure was certainly an enjoyable romp, as was its sequel. A side-scrolling platform with a mouse, dressed as a knight, with a rocket pack. Sounds amazing, and it was. Great graphics and really enjoyable to play.
Zombies ate my Neighbors
One of my all-time favourite games. Where did this game come from? it seemed to appear from nowhere when it came out. I remember @thejohninc having the US version with red blood and all! There was so much to this game. Variety, humour, tactics, two-player co-op, a multitude of levels. The follow-up, Ghoul Patrol, whilst still a solid and enjoyable game, did not quite capture the same enjoyment level for me.
Another one of my all-time faves. Sorry Mega Drive fans it has got to be the SNES or arcade version, the Mega Drive version whilst good, felt like half the game compared to the other two versions. A two-player co-op, side-scrolling, shoot ’em up cowboy game? Yes please. Sorry Red Dead, this is still the king of cowboy games for me, so much fun with its cartoony style. How cool was it to hear “Thank you nice boys” at the end of a level as you saved a dame?
This one has a cult following. I would put this on a compilation purely to try and devalue what scalpers charge for this game. Chances are most people have not had the chance to play it being a Mega CD game. I can only describe the game as Bladerunner the video game, so a cult video game, based on a cult film. The game was a story-driven affair as you would expect from any text-based menu game and for its time there was not many games as story-driven as this, well certainly on a console and with a genuinely interesting subject matter. It did feature shooting style sections on a 9 squared grid that you could use the enforcer light gun with, I can hardly say they were a highlight though!
International Superstar Soccer ’98
At the time ISS was another level when it came to a football game. The number of skills and plays you could pull off was unparalleled back in its hay day. Stepovers, one, two passes, chipped through balls, rainbow flicks and Cruyff turns, it really did show off what you could include in a football game. The added bonus you could save you goals to share with your friends from your memory card, making your own goal of the month competition, which was unheard of back then.
Mystical Ninja: Starring Goeman
At the time I seemed to think this game was a bit rough around the edges compared to the Nintendo first-party games. It did suffer from the fog effect that was used to cover up system limitations of the time and also some performance issues in some of the more detailed areas with numerous characters on screen. But it was a thoroughly enjoyable JRPG. Full of character and its own brand weird, zany humour. The story was based on some Shoguns wanting to make everyone a dancer, or something along those lines. Being able to switch through your characters to progress in the game gave it something a bit different from games at the time. I had pretty fond memories of this due to the level of humour, so it has made the list.
The Simpsons / TMNT / X-Men Arcade Games
I have put down all three of these titles and would gladly take any one of them. All of them are fun, cooperative, beat ’em ups. In today’s world they lack a bit of depth, but still hold a lot of nostalgia. I guess which one you would prefer will come down to probably two things, which franchise do you favour? And which one did you play more? I would imagine any of these games appearing again would be a licensing nightmare based on how big the franchises are now, and another company probably owns the license.
Parodius: Non-sense Fantasy
I guess with classic side-scrolling shoot ’em ups I could have gone with Gradius. But I prefer Parodius, which is what this is, a parody of Gradius. It is fun and is on here for purely being madder than a bag of frogs. I do not know what made me purchase this at the time, but I know it brought a smile to my face every time I played it. Not just because there was a giant Vegas dancing girl it. In all seriousness, it was a brilliant shooter that was unique with its style and very playable.
Metal Gear Solid
I remember when Metal Gear was first released. I really cannot think of a game like it at that time. It seemed so original, the graphics and presentation were so highly polished. I know the series on a whole has its fans, but I do not think any had the same impact as my first outing with Solid Snake in this title. The AI of the guards was something of note too, following any clues you may have left, whether it be noise or footprints. The stealth genre had taken a massive step into what we now expect to see within games of his genre today.
How do you pick a version of Castlevania? I did not play any of the Gameboy versions or even the 3D Lords of Shadow (they looked a lot better than my experience with my last 3D Castlevania, Castlevania 64), but I am going to go with the PlayStation’s Symphony of the Night. Guiding Alucard around a haunted castle, filled with dangerous creatures and traps to take on Dracula, sounds a doddle, doesn’t it? This Castlevania maybe a bit of a love-hate for many, mainly due back and forth over the same areas. But, again this a beautifully crafted game and an absolute classic and the change in structure to this game moved it away from the expected linear design.
Contra, Probotector or Gryzer or whatever you want to bloody call it was a run and fun shoot ’em up. I can very vividly remember the first jungle level being a side-scrolling level. The following levels changed up the perspective and the gameplay with it. I do not remember these levels as well, maybe I just was not very good at it back the day. But It is a bonafide classic, and there is no way I would emit it from this list and I am sure has been the inspiration for many a shooter up since.
International Track and Field
Ah… back in the day when Sony still enjoyed making a pretty penny off a multi-tap, still it was nearly worth it for this game alone. Memories of this were that it was fiercely competitive and also included watching friends trying to rub across two buttons using a pen lid or the edge of a t-shirt and after winning the 100m sprint in under 7 seconds, someone making a joke about masturbation. Whilst Track and Field is not my favourite athletics game (that honour sits with Sega’s Athlete Kings for its style) Track and Field is an excellent game and fiercely competitive and more than deserves its place on this list.
Last but certainly not least, and I am going to go for the original. I have not seen this running for a considerable amount of time. I would imagine, as with a number of early PlayStation games, it would probably need a bit of a tidy up. I distinctly remember the atmosphere being the stand out feature of the game. The not knowing what was out there in the fog, this was a graphical limitation of the time – but it worked so well. Using a torch to try and find your way with the restricted view, made the tension raise along with the eerie sound effects. If only more games of the era used fog in such an ingenious and inventive manner.
So there you have it, my selection from a very rich back catalogue. I am sure I have missed some other gems out. Please feel free to leave a comment and share your memories of any Konami games you would like to see re-released. Thanks for reading!