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Monday, March 6, 2017

Konami: Is Winning Back Gamer's Trust Possible?

It is no secret that Konami has not been seen in a positive light over the past few years. Canceling Silent Hill games, chopping up Metal Gear Solid V, giving Hideo Kojima the shaft, treat employees like garbage and banishing the Hudson IPs they absorbed into some realm of darkness. Make no mistake, Konami deserved every single bit of ire gamers and critics sent their way.

When Konami was revealed to be on the list of third party developers making games for the Switch, a lot of us, OK, pretty much all of us were skeptical of what Konami could possibly bring to the table. They wrote off console gaming to go frolic in pachinko land. But after the Nintendo Switch showcase in January, Nintendo dropped a ton of trailers for games that didn't get much attention in the direct. One of those trailers was for Super Bomberman R, the first new Bomberman game in seven years. I never thought we'd see any of Hudson's old IPs again or anything else from Konami that wasn't some half attempt at a Metal Gear game. A lot of people picked up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at launch and it is being talked about like the second coming of Ocarina of Time but I've seen tons upon tons of photos on Instagram where Super Bomberman R is right along side Nintendo's new baby. So if that is any indication, lots of people were looking forward to Bomberman's return.

Months ago Konami said they wanted to win back gamer's trust. Not an easy thing to do when they burned so many bridges to the point where the company was being viewed as the new Activision of gaming. Super Bomberman R is a wonderful gesture to try to get back in good graces with fans. Does it make up for all Konami's past bull bull? Certainly not but it is a step in the right direction.

I've felt that something else Konami could do to make things right would be to re-release their older titles. Besides the usual NES suspects that are Super C, Gradius, Castlevania I-III. On HAMSTER Corporation's Arcade Archives line, the scope for Konami's retro titles is a bit broader. On the PS4 they've released the arcade versions of Contra, Gradius, Gradius II, Life Force A-JAX, TwinBee, MX5000, and Mr. Goemon . Some of those titles are definitely on the obscure side so kudos to Konami and HAMSTER Corporation for giving us easier access to these games.

When I jumped on the Wii U eShop about a week ago, I was surprised to see Bomberman '94 and Gradius added under the label of new releases. The version of Gradius I'm referring to is the TG16 version, which was never released digitally outside of Japan. These were the first two TG16 games to hit the Wii U eShop, followed by Neutopia and Dungeon Explorer. The Wii enjoyed a host of TG 16 titles as well as Genesis games. I always felt it strange that for the longest time, the Wii U was home to only Nintendo systems when it came to releasing retro titles. Great to see more former Hudson IPs get re-released even if they came at the end of the Wii U's life cycle. I greatly enjoy the TG16 version of Gradius and I may scope out the aforementioned titles.

Now of course it takes a lot more than re-releasing old games and a new Bomberman title to get fans to smile in your face again. But, ya gotta start somewhere and giving gamers easier access to those old classics and putting Bomberman back out there isn't a bad place to start. I think Konami could do a lot better by getting the Silent Hill series back into the spotlight and not chop the next Metal Gear in half at the expense of making a quick buck. And while the company is giving us old games, can we get the NES version of Gradius II? And how about giving us Snatcher and Policenauts? Hey, a guy can dream, right?

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