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Monday, October 1, 2012

Favorite Tunes #28: Konami Edition

Metal Gear, Castlevania and Silent Hill. These are probably the games that come to one's mind when someone thinks of Konami since they seem to get a lot of attention these days. But there's a lot more to Konami than vampire slaying, tactical espionage action and creepy towns. Konami has quite the extensive game catalog and while they may not show other franchises nearly as much love as the first three mentioned, there are legions of fans that haven't forgotten the copious amount of reasons that makes Konami such a great company. You'll find some music from the aforementioned games in this edition of Favorite Tunes, but I'm giving plenty of focus to Konami's other classics as well.

                 Theme of Snatcher - Snatcher (MSX ver.)



Snatcher is that "other game" that famed Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima is known for. Despite the limitations of the MSX hardware, Snatcher was a very competent adventure game. Playing as detective Gillian Seed, you're on the trail of Snatchers, artificial beings that are impersonating and killing real human beings. With strong cyberpunk themes, Snatchers takes heavy influence from the 1980s cult film Blade Runner and it's all the better for it. Since the MSX wasn't available in America, Snatcher few people were able to experience it. The game did see a wider release on the Sega CD and PC Engine but there are still few people that have played Snatcher. I'm quite fond of the MSX version's music, particularly the Theme of Snatcher.

     You in Heap Big Trouble! - Sunset Riders (ARC ver.)



A run 'n gun shoot 'em up that played in the style of a beat 'em up, Sunset Riders hit arcades in 1991, allowing player to choose from four cowboys  (sorry, cowgirls) and shoot anything that moves. A year later, the Genesis received a home version and in 1993, Sunset Riders hit the SNES. I've never played Sunset Riders but I always hear people say good things about it. Why Konami hasn't given this game a digital release, I cannot say.

                   Demeter - Gradius IV (ARC, PS2, PSP)



There's a hefty dose of cheerful music in Gradius IV, which is a good thing because you'll need something to keep you upbeat after all the deaths you'll be suffering. Make no mistake, Gradius IV is one tough customer, demanding lots of patience and skill. Demeter can be heard on the obligatory plant-like stage. Why is the track called Demeter? Because in greek mythology, Demeter was a goddess of plants.

Lethal Encounter - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2, XB)



The hype surrounding the release of Metal Gear Solid 2 was huge. It looked to be a bigger, better version of the original Metal Gear Solid game. But after completing the game's first story arc, the Tanker Chapter, gamers were no longer playing as Solid Snake. Instead, the Raiden was the real star of Metal Gear Solid 2 and it left quite the sour taste in gamer's mouths. Metal Gear Solid 2 is often seen as the black sheep of the series due to Raiden landing the main role and the convoluted story. In truth, I honestly had no qualms playing as Raiden and I've seen a number of people rag on Meta Gear Solid 4's story. Regardless, Metal Gear Solid 2 ended up becoming my favorite game in the series. This particular encounter theme only plays once during the Tanker Chapter and I honestly think it should have been the main encounter theme of the game.

Technodrome: The Final Shell Shock - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)



This port of the arcade version is my favorite Turtles game. It manages to one up the coin-up original in a number of areas like additional modes and bosses. I also love the slight differences in the audio department. The arcade version had fantastic music, but if I had to pick one over the other, I'd give it to the SNES version's music easily. In the final stage, you fight Super Shredder and this rendition of his boss theme suits the battle quite well.

                           Area 3 - Contra ReBirth (WW)



Released in 2009, Contra ReBirth is one of the better offerings on Nintendo's Wii Ware service. There are many homages to previous Contra titles such as the arcade opening to Super Contra where Bill Rizer asks "What is this place?" There's a new Brownie and best of all, all of the music are arranged versions of previous Contra music. Stage 3's background music is originally from Operation C's stage 2 theme. Contra ReBirth had a lot of chaotic moments, but stage 3 was nonstop insanity. This track was a perfect choice to convey that chaos.

Invasion of Evil Spirits - Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES)



Called Ganbare Goemon in Japan, Legend of the Mystical Ninja is actually the first game in the series to be released in America and Europe. Despite buying a copy of this game years ago, I never played a whole lot of it. Even when I purchased it on the Virtual Console, I still haven't played much of this game, which is a shame because I hear it's great. The soundtrack is quite good and like the game's setting, reflects ancient Japan.

            Stage 1-1 - Rocket Knight Adventures (GEN)



Never played Rocket Knight Adventures? Man, do I feel sorry for you. It was only one of the greatest, imaginative action platforming romps on the Genesis. Not only did this game make possums look cool, it gave this one a jetpack! How awesome is that? Sparkster could hack and slash, blaze through enemies and use his tail to suspend himself on tree branches. In addition to it's eye popping visuals and catchy musical score, Rocket Knight Adventures was a very challenging game. It isn't very long but expect to have plenty of patience, skill and a little luck if you wanna see how this adventure ends.

Thrashard In The Cave - Castlevania Chronicles (X68000, PS)



Originally released on the Sharp X68000 in Japan in 1993 under the Japanese name Akumajo Dracula, this is a remake of the very first Castlevania. In 2001, an enhanced port saw a limited release on the PlayStation and I'm a proud owner of one of those physical copies. If you can't find a physical copy, just hop on the PSN and download the game as it's available as a PSone Classic. These days most of the Castlevania games play in the style of what fans call Metrovania and while this makes for great Castlevania games, something was lost when using this formula and that's challenge. Castlevania Chronicles featured a wonderful return to the single stages and brought back the difficulty of earlier games in the series.

Hot Lips Theme (Stage 3 Boss) - Parodius Da! (ARC, SAT, PS)



Parodius plays a lot like Gradius, expect Konami was probably on every drug known to man when they made the thing. A parody of the Gradius games, you play as numerous Konami characters, like Twinbee and even the Vic Viper. There hasn't been a single game in the Parodius series to be released in America, not even digitally. Does Konami think the series is too strange for us western gamers? Along with the off the wall style, the Parodius games are known for their use of remixing classical music and arrangements of Gradius themes.

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