Konami is one of the prominent AAA Japanese developers that struck it big in the days of the early arcades, which is good enough reason for us to do a list of the 10 Best Konami Franchises. They brought us joy with titles such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, and even more so with The Simpsons Arcade Game. But what are they doing now, besides Metal Gear and Castlevania? We take a look at Konami’s great accomplishments and most loved games in this list of the 10 Best Konami Franchises.
Zone of the Enders was a series about young kids piloting semi sentient giant robots that clashed in the middle of space with beam weapons. It came out around the time when Evangelion and Gundam were at the height of their popularity in the U.S., so that might have contributed to the series' success. Still, Hideo Kojima is known for being able to write absurdly convoluted plots that everyone loves, so he was a natural for a space opera. The barely penetrable but still awesome plot of Zone of the Enders coupled with giant robot battles that litter space with explosions put Zone of the Enders in slot #10 of our Best Konami Franchises list.
Going even further back into Konami’s history, we have Rocket Knight Adventures, a game that really knew how to take advantage of Sega’s nonexistent blast processing. Rocket Knight Adventures was a platformer that allowed you to play as an anthropomorphic opossum in full plate armor with a jetpack. You were able to bounce around levels like a pinball, skewering enemies as you went. This game was a favorite of speedrunners everywhere and had many sequels and remakes for classic gaming enthusiasts to enjoy.
Yes Frogger, one of the classic arcade games of video games past, is a Konami title. We probably don’t have to describe Frogger to you, and you likely know that the multitude of Frogger remakes haven’t exactly done the series justice. However, it’s impossible to deny that video games and arcade culture wouldn’t be where they are today without this little frog trying to cross the street.
Gradius nearly defined the shoot em up genre for years. It created the ideas of linear scaling upgrades that you could select, options, changeable main weapons, and more. Until bullet hell shooters were created and shoot-em-ups got a second wind, Gradius was the name that we trusted in side-scrolling arcade style shooting action.
Speaking of shooting action... Contra! This franchise was the champion of the now mostly defunct platformer/shoot-em-up hybrid genre we knew as, “run and gun.” However, it’s still one of the most iconic games of our childhoods. Remember how awesome the spreader was? Remember those weird pseudo 3D stages? Remember how this game catapulted the Konami code into popularity with its 30 lives cheat? These nostalgic memories and more get Contra on our list of 10 Best Konami Franchises.
Suikoden was a phenomenal series of JRPGs that few played, but more should have. The games were vast war epics that allowed you to recruit over 100 characters. With each character you recruited you would build up an HQ that would eventually sport things such as shops, boats, elevators, gambling facilities, and more. There were even multiple combat types like dueling, and army battles, which played out more like turn-based or real time strategies. It’s a shame that this franchise isn’t more popular because it was one of Konami’s best.
How can we talk about Konami games without talking about Dance Dance Revolution? In an age where everyone was complaining about how violent video games could be, DDR showed us that you don’t need blood and gore to have a good time. All you need is a dance mat, flashing lights, and hours and hours of horrible J-pop! DDR let gamers the world around get in shape, and to this day, is still being used in classroom fitness classes.
Konami was the creator of one of the world’s best horror franchises, Silent Hill. In fact, Silent Hill basically defined the horror genre as we know it. Fog in horror video games came from the fact that Silent Hill had to mask its draw distances. For a long time, Silent Hill was considered the pinnacle of horror. It’s a shame that current day installments have been falling short of the greatness we have come to expect.
Castlevania was one of the franchises that struck it big in the early days of the NES. We all know of Simon Belmont and his whip, but then the series reinvented itself with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Alucard. It introduced a large open map and RPG mechanics, giving birth to the term Metroidvania.
It should be as obvious to you that Metal Gear deserves the top slot on this list as it is that David Hayter is the voice of Solid Snake. Hideo Kojima’s epic spy thriller is almost synonymous with Konami excellence. Even if a Metal Gear game isn’t coming out, Konami will have some sort of Metal Gear setup at every convention they go to. Every time Konami speaks at a press conference, they mention Solid Snake. Snake and Raiden have even gone on to show up in crossover fighting games like Smash Bros. and Sony PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. All of these merits and more rocket Metal Gear to the top of our list of 10 Best Konami Franchises.
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