games / Columns

The Top 8 Konami Franchise Games: Batman: The Animated Series, Metal Gear Solid, More

June 16, 2020 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Batman: The Animated Series Game Boy

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk Konami games and some of their most popular and also most obscure franchises. Konami had a long history of making games, or at least acquiring game companies/franchises but that’s all in the past. With such a long history, there are franchises I’ve missed, so I’ll name three I don’t mention in my big list. PES I’ve never played, since I’m not into soccer. I don’t like Bomberman. And I especially don’t like Silent Hill (any of them), so those aren’t below. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Bloody Roar

Bloody Roar was a B-tier fighting game franchise, at best. The later iterations seemed to delve further into the furry community but the first game was a pretty solid little fighting game. The main hook with the game is that you had a transform button/skill you could hit, to turn into a humanoid-animal. But there was also a stamina bar as well. You could go into a rage/frenzy mode that would strengthen your attacks but the bar would decrease. Once empty, you wouldn’t be able to guard against heavy attacks well, and if one connected, it would transform you back into a human.

#7: Batman: The Animated Series

Konami did their share of licensed games over the years, and this was a pretty decent one, especially on the Game Boy. It was a 2D platformer/beat’em up where you had to find Batman’s enemies and take them down. Batman had his grapple gun and more health, while Robin could hang from ceilings and climb around. The game also had some pretty great music, something Konami is still fairly famous for, that sounded great on the Game Boy speaker.

#6: Bonk’s Adventure

Bonk was essentially the mascot for the TurboGrafx-16. Bonk was a cave-man who had to fight evil dinosaurs and other animals, all the while eating a ton of meat. His powers included a head-butt, a jumping head-butt (which was more powerful), and eating meat gained him superpowers, like the ability to stun enemies with the jumping head-butt, or even invincibility if you eat enough meat. Bonk was heralded for its look, it had big sprites and not a lot of slowdown, compared to other games of its era. There was a second Bonk game that was similar to this one, then a third one that went off in a completely crazy direction.

#5: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)

The Turtles game was the first in the Konami Trilogy of franchised games, with the Simpsons being second and X-Men being the last one. Aside from that though, Konami did pump out its fair share of Turtles games as well, back in the day. It wasn’t quite as refined as either X-Men or Simpsons but it was still the same amount of fun, easily capturing the look and spirit of the popular cartoon show. The fact they got the game working on the NES at all, even with some downgrades, was a minor miracle. This game was some of Konami at its best arcade roots.

#4: Contra 3: The Alien Wars

Contra 3 isn’t the longest game in the world but it is a pretty fun little co-op platformer. It adheres to the old Konami philosophy of being stupid hard, since you’re so fragile in the game, and one wrong move can mean you lose the gun you have, just like previous Contra games. I dig the top-down sections actually, since if you have the laser gun, it becomes a short-range destroyer of everything and makes it a balance of getting in close but not too close.

#3: Metal Gear Solid

It’s a tad hard just picking one Metal Gear game. Aside from 3, which I don’t really like, all the rest are really solid games, though it has been a while since I’ve played 4. While the first MGS game is clunky to play by today’s standards, or hell, even by the standards back then, it stands out as a landmark game with some incredible production values. All the voice work, music, visual cohesion, etc., make it still standout on the PS1 hardware. Add to that, a story that is still pretty good by video game standards, and gameplay that was revolutionary, and it’s still one of the best games on the platform.

#2: Suikoden 2

Honestly, Suikoden 2 is one of my all-time favorite RPGs ever made. The story is involving, getting all the characters to your side is fun, the battle system is classic, and all the side-stuff you can do is just great. Couple that with some fantastic music and moments that stick with you forever, and you can see why I paid over $100 to get a physical copy of the game back in my collection. I would say the only downside to it, and the reason it’s not number one, is that you really need a guide or FAQ to get the most out of it. Specifically, one of the character’s side quests (Clive) has some tight timers and requirements, and if you don’t do things in order, you can quickly end up screwed.

#1: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

As someone who has recently played Super Castlevaina IV (first SNES one), I can attest that, that game sucks ass. It has some great music and nice visuals but actually playing the damn thing is no fun at all, filled with cheap deaths and awful combat. SOTN is, obviously, why it’s called “Metroidvania” and not “Metroid-like”. Even playing Super Metroid doesn’t fill in all the blanks, but SOTN married with Metroid certainly does. It is just an utter blast exploring Dracula’s castle, getting new abilities, then finding even more paths, upgrades and bosses with your current gear. The RPG-esque upgrade mechanics help also, since you’re not just getting a better sword or the ability to turn into a bat, but actually more HP and MP, so you can last longer in combat. The voice work might be a bit dodgy, but the music is superb and still one of the best gaming soundtracks out there.

For comments, list your favorite Konami games and why.

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Top 8 Sega Franchise Games