Konami is easily one of the most influential video game companies in the history of the industry. In the 1980s, Konami produced classics like Castlevania, Contra, and Metal Gear that would go on to spawn some of the most well-known video game franchises. Konami is also responsible for the survival-horror series Silent Hill, which is second only to Resident Evil in the genre. But as the years have gone on, Konami has moved away from traditional video game development, leveraging its beloved IP for gambling and non-video game projects.
Konami’s decline can be traced back to E3 2010, when the company held a notoriously embarrassing E3 press conference. Since then, it has become less interested in pursuing traditional game development, to the point where it seems to hardly release any new products that aren’t Pro Evolution Soccer or Yu-Gi-Oh. This has left some of Konami’s most popular video game franchises to lay dormant, or worse yet, get new entries that have been met with scathing reviews from fans and critics alike.
For those wondering what their favorite Konami video game franchises have been up to, here is where they stand in 2019.
Latest Release – Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (2014)
Rising to prominence at the same time as Super Mario Bros., the Castlevania series is one of the longest-running video game franchises out there. While there have been some poorly-received Castlevania games over the years, many have been met with critical acclaim, with Koji Igarashi’s Castlevania games particularly well-received. Sadly for Castlevania fans, there hasn’t been a new game in the series since 2014’s Lords of Shadow 2 (not counting the Japan-only mobile game Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls), and Igarashi doesn’t even work for Konami any longer.
Konami has continued to produce Castlevania pachinko machines instead of full-fledged entries in the series. Luckily, the Castlevania name has lived on thanks to the popular Castlevania Netflix series and appearances from the characters in Super Smash Bros. Igarashi, meanwhile, has gone on to develop Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a spiritual successor to the Castlevania franchise that looks to be the closest things fans are going to get to a new entry in the series for quite some time.
Latest Release – Contra: Rogue Corps (2019)
Throughout the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s, Konami released new Contra games on a regular basis. Then it launched Hard Corps: Uprising (which, despite its title, is considered a part of the Contra franchise), which was followed by an eight year hiatus. Some may have hoped for that hiatus to continue, however, as the most recent Contra game has been raked over the coals. In fact, Game Informer’s Jeff Cork disliked Contra: Rogue Corps so much that he refused to even finish it for his review:
“I’ve spent about nine hours playing this game, and have no idea how many more stages are left until the end. I do know that levels are recycled only a few levels into the campaign, even to the point of putting the collectibles in identical locations. I don’t see a future in which the back half of Contra: Rogue Corps makes up for the abysmal first half. It would be irresponsible to assign a numerical score to something I didn’t complete, but all you need to know is that it’s irredeemably bad. Move along, folks.”
It should be noted that while an actual Contra video game for home consoles wasn’t produced in the eight years between Hard Corps: Uprising and Contra: Rogue Corps, Konami did put out some slot machines based on the franchise.
Latest Release – Metal Gear Survive (2018)
Konami’s Metal Gear franchise got its start in the 1980s, but the franchise reached new heights in the 1990s. 1998’s Metal Gear Solid is a bonafide PS1 classic, and a groundbreaking game that was hugely innovative for its time. Subsequent entries in the Metal Gear series were met with acclaim as well, all the way up to Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, an award-winning open world game from the mind of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima.
Kojima was easily Konami’s most well-known developer, and he is largely considered to be one of the best in the business. Sadly, Konami apparently didn’t see that much value in Kojima, canceling his Silent Hills project and refusing to let him travel to the United States to accept an award for his work on Metal Gear Solid 5. Kojima and Konami eventually split ways, but Konami decided to continue the Metal Gear franchise anyway with the poorly-received Metal Gear Survive.
Metal Gear Survive, chasing the “survival game” trend about five years too late, was met with disdain from critics and fans alike. The fact that Metal Gear Survive made people pay for extra save slots was also ridiculed and controversial at the time. Metal Gear Survive marks a lowpoint for the series, and no new game has been announced since.
However, Konami has been using the Metal Gear IP in other ways. It’s lent Metal Gear Solid characters to car commercials, and it’s also used them to create its pachinko machines. The Metal Gear Solid 3 pachinko machine sparked a lot of outrage in particular, as it came about in the midst of the Kojima controversy.
Latest Release – Silent Hill: Downpour (2012)
Out of all of the franchises that have been effectively abandoned by Konami, Silent Hill may be the one that leaves the most bitter taste in fans’ mouths. Silent Hill 2 often appears on the top of lists of best horror games, and Silent Hill 3 earned strong reviews as well, but the series went downhill from there. Silent Hill 4, while plenty scary with interesting ideas, simply failed to live up to the legacy of its predecessors. Subsequent Silent Hill games didn’t live up to expectations either, with the series lagging far behind its chief rival, Capcom’s Resident Evil series.
But in 2014, there was renewed hope for the Silent Hill franchise. Hideo Kojima released the cryptic PT, which was secretly a “Playable Teaser” for the new Silent Hill game, entitled Silent Hills. Silent Hills was set to be a joint effort between Hideo Kojima, Norman Reedus, Guillermo del Toro, and manga artist Junji Ito, but it was ultimately canceled. And then to pour salt in the wound, Konami pulled PT from the PlayStation Store.
A new Silent Hill video game hasn’t been mentioned since then, but Konami has, as one might expect, used the franchise in other ways. In fact, a Silent Hill slot machine was just announced, and a Silent Hill ebook was released just a few years ago. However, there is no indication that a proper new Silent Hill video game is in development in any serious capacity. But given how the new games in Konami’s other big franchises turned out, it may be for the best.
Konami has claimed that it’s not done making console games, but its actions have yet to prove that. Maybe Konami can redeem itself in the future, but for now, it seems as though many of its biggest IP will lay dormant…or become slot machines.
Source: Game Informer
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