Back then, Konami was regarded as one of the best companies on earth that produced a plethora of games that could easily be missed by anyone. It was surely a time where the latter competed with other juggernauts such as Capcom, Sega, Nintendo, and Taito. The competition wasn’t easy, and each of these companies strived to bring the best they could.
Sadly, the aforementioned has lost its influence on gamers after what happened with Hideo Kojima, and other ex-members that, in the end, ended up leaving the House of K. This, in particular, changed Konami completely. However, rejoice and smile because we can always roll back and reminisce about what made Konami such a big deal. Today, I’ll be talking about the best and underrated Konami games that will quench your thirst especially if you are looking for something entertaining during these dire times.
Rocket Knight Adventures
Release Date: 1993
Platform: Sega Genesis
Rocket Knight Adventures is Konami’s powerful answer to prominent 2D platformers back then. A cute animal equipped with a blue shield, a sword, and his jet on the back. The latter introduced a couple of sweet mechanics that set it apart from the generic platform action games which used to be the talk of the day back in the ’90s. I know someone out there will burn me alive for this, but yeah, I’m talking about Earthworm Jim.
In terms of story, Sparkster’s goal is to rescue the Kingdom of Eginasem and rescue princess Flora from the hands of the Lioness army of yellow dog soldiers. The army is plotting to launch an attack on the kingdom, and it’s Sparkster’s job to do anything under his sleeves to put an end to their wicked goals. The story may seem generic, but so is Mario’s story. Yet, it managed to glamour tons of people into adoring it.
The gameplay is where Rocket Knight Adventures rocks. At first glance, the game may look like any side-scrolling 2D platformer out there, but that’s not the case. Sparkster can use his jet anytime to launch himself around the level as well as inflicting a fatal spin attack on his enemies. In order to do this, players have the hold on the attack button and let go while aiming at the intended location to project themselves. This is one of those fantastic abilities that looked interesting back in the day, like a kid whose dream was to fly around like Superman. Despite these abilities, Rocket Knight Adventures isn’t an easy game. Players will have to master it through countless deaths.
Unlike other 2D platformers, Rocket Knight Adventures breaks the cycle of repetitiveness by incorporating shoot’em up sequences where your goal will be to blast everything that comes your way while trying to survive until you reach the intended location. This is one of those clever twists by Konami that will hook you with your controller in front of the screen for a while. If you are looking for something fun and tough, be sure to try this one.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin
Release Date: 1995
You have probably grown up with the old Batman animated series back in the ’90s where Batsy and his comrade Robin would beat the hell out of the famous villains we all are aware of. But guess what? This one is actually based on the animated series itself where you play as both Batman & Robin. There’s another version for the Sega Genesis, but sadly it’s not developed by Konami, and it focuses entirely on run & gun sequences while forcing you to rage quit because of how unforgiving it is.
To retain the feel of the old animated series, missions are introduced as a form of episodes. Each episode indicates which villain you’ll have to face off against. Spoiler alert, Joker is in the game. Why not? No Joker no Batman after all, right? Before launching the episode, the game allows you to choose some equipment that will aid you throughout the playthrough. These tools will help to make things a little bit easier.
Unlike the Sega Genesis version, the SNES release’s difficulty isn’t as unforgiving as compared to the latter. Sure you will die a couple of times, but luckily, you can save your progress instead of starting from the very beginning. The gameplay can easily be summed in brief as a 2D platforming beat’em up with few twists here and there on the gameplay. For example, the ability to use Batman’s Grapple Hook to reach certain locations, jumping from a wall to another like in Prince of Persia games, using your night-mode goggles to see in the dark and other fascinating pieces of equipment.
If you are looking for a fun 2D beat ’em up action game, you should definitely pick this one whenever you get the chance.
Mystic Warriors: Wrath of the Ninjas
Release Date: 1993
Back in the day, it was challenging not to stumble across a game that was not made by Konami. The latter was one of the pioneers when it came to the arcade while competing with other gigantic publishers back at the time. Mystic Warriors might remind some of another Konami classic called Sunset Riders since both of these games are developed by the same team in fact. While both share the same feeling of taking down every enemy the player encounters, both are different in their own way. (You have to play them to understand, I–I can’t explain it! ).
The game is set in a dystopian in the city of New York where an evil organization known as the Skull Enterprise has taken over the nation, and are now plotting a worldwide takeover. It is your job to stop them once in for all.
You take control of one of the five characters that are targeted by the evil organization. After you choose your main character, one of the remaining characters will be kidnapped, so it’s your job to save him. The game plays like a combination of side-scrolling shoot’em up similar to Sunset Riders as I said earlier, but the mechanics are way more fluid and way responsive compared to the latter. The action never stops, the music goes through your veins, and the entertainment feels like an eternity. However, note that the game isn’t easy, on the contrary, it’s challenging as hell, so prepare yourself to die quite a couple of times before you master the game completely.
If you are looking for an entertaining time where you blast your foes left and right while listening to some jamming music, this one is for you.
Soul of The Samurai
Release Date: 1999
I still remember the first time I played this game– the first thing I said was ” Onimusha, is that you? “. Both Soul of The Samurai or as others prefer to call it Ronin Blade shares a couple of combat mechanics with Capcom’s Onimusha series. Some are saying that maybe this game acted as an inspiration to the latter although the similarities are obvious if you have played both.
The premise sets you as one of two brave warriors ( A samurai called Kotaru, and a female ninja Lin ) who decide to stop an evil warlord from turning innocent villagers into zombies for the undead army he plans to march in against the shogun. The story may seem generic compared to today’s standard, but it’s the gameplay that counts.
Soul of The Samurai shares the same camera angle as of the Onimusha trilogy series with pretty much the same esthetics. The game’s story is told through the use of an in-game engine instead of breaking it into different levels. In addition, for the gameplay, holding on the R1 button enables the player to lock-on the enemy and inflict several hits while dodging sword attacks. Not only that but also, if you wait for the accurate moment you can execute a critical attack similar to the Issen attack on the Onimusha franchise. That does not mean the game is easy after all, in fact, players will pretty much find themselves guarding more than attacking all the time as enemy damage varies from one to another.
Soul of The Samurai may look outdated compared to today’s standard, but if you are someone who enjoys digging obscure stuff every now and then, be sure to take a look at this one.
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duellist of Roses
Release Date: 2001
It’s been 84 years since I discovered this one, and to this day, I couldn’t defeat Pegasus no matter how I tried. I guess I should learn more about the mechanics before playing with ” Yugi Boy ”. However, in all honesty, this is a true Yu Gi Oh game. It maintains the dark atmosphere of the old school animated series, and offers a variety of famous cards, and most importantly, an unforgiving challenge.
The game is loosely based on the real-world Wars of the Roses. The player assumes control of the Rose Duellist. A nameless person who is suddenly summoned from a different time period by a druid of the Lancastrian forces to assist them in defeating the Yorkists and regaining control of the throne. Although, players can choose which one to follow. Seto Kaiba symbolizes the Yorkists, while if players choose to follow Yugi, they’ll have to face off against Kaiba in the end. However, there are a couple of twists that will hook you in front of the screen for a while. The game doesn’t have a happy atmosphere, and that’s how it should be in the first place.
When it comes to difficulty, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duellist of Roses isn’t joking around. At first, the game teaches you the basics, but after that, shit hits the fan. You are presented with extremely intelligent AI that isn’t designed to die. If you are not serious and equipped with the best monsters, you will die, a lot of times. I highly recommend checking the guides online as they’ll be of aid in your quest against tougher enemies.
If you are a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan, and a masochist who enjoys dying a couple of times in a game, what are you waiting for? find this one asap! (Although I’m ashamed that I haven’t finished it yet)
Ninety-Nine Nights II
Developer: feelplus, Q Entertainment
Release Date: 2010
Platform: Xbox 360
Ninety-Nine Nights series were an ambitious project by the developer behind Kingdom Under Fire series which was created by Sang Youn Lee. The prequel wasn’t published by Konami, on the contrary, it was done by Microsoft Games Studios. Sadly, while Ninety-Nine Nights 1 had solid frame-rates on the Xbox 360, and large on-screen enemies to take on, it didn’t manage to reach its intended goal, and that is, to compete with Koei-Tecmo’s juggernaut IP, Dynasty Warriors series. Despite the failure of the first game, the original developer refused to lift the white flag and declare surrender. After four years, Konami would announce that they are releasing the second instalment of Ninety-Nine Nights, but just like the first one, it was bound to fail commercially from the very beginning.
The story is pretty identical to the prequel, but both are not connected according to Tak Fujii, the producer of the game. Similar to its predecessor, humanity is once again threatened by an evil force of demons that seek to destroy the world. The evil lord of the night has mysteriously awakened, and his vicious army is menacing the safety of the kingdom of Orphea. when humanity seems helpless against such force, and every bit of hope is lost, five heroes appear to thwart the evil from the kingdom of Orphea and rescue it from serious destruction. One thing to note is that you need to play with all the five heroes in order to get a better understanding of the plot.
The gameplay might hook some players for a while, but unfortunately, it quickly turns into a button-masher, In addition, the difficulty spike is noticeable throughout the course of the game. You may feel like a badass slashing and hacking through regular soldiers, but all the fun fades when you encounter those gigantic soldiers that will treat you like a hoe. However, despite its shallow repetitiveness and noticeable issues, this aforementioned will blow you away with its focus on detailing the battlefield scenes. You’ll find yourself looking around with the controller on your hand. At least, these chaotic battlefield visuals will fascinate you for a while.
If you are looking for an alternative to Dynasty Warriors, be sure to pick this one. However, hold on your breath as it might frustrate you sometimes.
Release Date: 1987-2019
Platform: PS1, PS2, PS3 | Xbox, Xbox 360 | Arcade | Pachinko | PSP | PC | DS, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, GBA | Genesis, SNES, NES | Mobile Phones | Nintendo Switch
Contra series is known for being one of the most challenging game series that ever set foot in the gaming industry. It challenged players since the NES era, and finally beating the game felt like graduating university or giving birth to a child. It was a feeling only strugglers could understand. Luckily, Konami has released a Contra collection that included certain games, but fans are still waiting patiently for a second collection anytime soon. (Unless if Konami releases it on mobile, that’s something else)
In brief, the Contra series have you play as the protagonist who is struggling to defeat the fierce alien invasion that is threatening earth and its citizens. It’ll be a tough journey filled with many deaths and continues, but heroes will always prevail in the end.
The gameplay is what hooked many players into Contra series, it’s a 2D run & gun platformer where your goal is to blast anything that moves while trying not to die many times. The enemies aren’t joking, and if you are not serious and ready, you will die many times.
Release Date: 1986-2019
Platform: PS1, PS2, PS3 | Xbox, Xbox 360 | Arcade | Pachinko | PSP | PC | DS, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, GBA | Genesis, SNES, NES , Nintendo Switch
The Castlevania series came out as a surprise back in the NES era. And because of it and Metroid, a new genre was born, Metroidvania. This aforementioned has paved the way to many indie games to create games that somehow pay tribute to the classical Castlevania series. One of these titles is Hollow Knight.
Castlevania series put you in the shoes of the Belmont clan as they march inside the castle to hunt down Dracula and his allies and restore peace to the land. While some games in the series aren’t canon, they’re still worth the try just for the sake of listening to the astonishing Michiru Yamane’s soundtracks as you pave your way through the castle of Dracula.
I don’t have to say much about the series as it’s widely known now, but sadly, some games in the series remain underrated. For example, the Castlevania games on the PS2, and the DS. These games stayed true to the Castlevania lore, yet, they didn’t manage to garner the influence Symphony of The Night had on gamers for so long.
The Castlevania series is the best thing that ever happened to the gaming industry. If you haven’t played it yet, then I guess I’ll have to kill you and the night.
Metal Gear Solid Series
Release Date: 1987-2019
Platform: PC | PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4 | Xbox 360 , Xbox one | Gamecube | PSP | Arcade | Pachinko | MSX
One does not simply, mention a Konami without remembering Hideo Kojima’s tactical espionage game. This one right here received critical acclaim upon its release on the original Playstation, and since then, just went on a full rampage sowing critical acclaims and positive reviews left and right. Sadly, the last instalment ( Metal Gear Survive ) was the bullet to the head as it caused the death of Konami’s long-running franchise for good.
As you are already aware of this, Metal Gear Solid series puts you in the shoes of Solid Snake in his mission to accomplish espionage missions and reveal the truth behind several conspiracies. The series contains several spin-offs such as Metal Gear Rising in which you play as the cyborg ninja Raiden. Every entry in the franchise has its cons and pros, but either way, they all managed to sow the hearts of many.
Silent Hill Series
Release Date: 1999-2015
Platform: PS1, PS2, PS3 | Xbox, Xbox 360 | Arcade | Pachinko | PSP, PsVita | PC
Similar to Metal Gear Solid, you cannot talk about horror without Silent Hill’s name popping up inside your head. Surprisingly, the game still holds up pretty well when it comes to the atmosphere and how it easily manages to leave players on their toes wondering if they should open that door where a dreadful voice is seeping in, or just turn off the damn game.
To sum the story of Silent Hill series, each protagonist has to go through their nightmare while trying to survive the hellish horrors that await for them in the ever-lasting dark. Silent Hill called them and they answered.
In terms of gameplay, the trilogy still holds up pretty well, except the first game that might not please those who didn’t grow up with tank controls. In addition, when it comes to the visuals, it may turn off those who are not accustomed to the original PlayStation graphics. Luckily, you can get the other games online or via emulation with HD textures these days which makes the game way cleaner than the original.
If you are looking for something that will haunt you forever, pick this one as soon as you get a chance, and enjoy the fear.
Thank you for reading!