Category Archives: Konami

Track & Field, Game Boy

Konami‘s 1992 conversion of the smash arcade hit Track & Field features more events than the original. In fact, it’s something of a mashup of Track & Field and its famous follow-up Hyper Sports.

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Sparkster, Super Nintendo

Konami‘s Sparkster is a side-scrolling platform action game released for the Super Nintendo in 1994.

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Frogger, Arcade

Konami‘s Frogger was released into video game arcades in 1981 and was an instant hit with gamers.

The basic premise of Frogger is to guide a hopping frog over a road and a river, to reach a safe haven on the other side.

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Super Castlevania IV, Super Nintendo

Released in 1991, Konami‘s Super Castlevania IV was one of the earliest releases for the Super Nintendo console – and one of the best.

And it remains one of the best – to this day – with spectacular, horror-themed platforming action, full of deadly ghosts and monsters, and demanding boss battles.

The Super Nintendo‘s famous Mode 7 graphics rotation and scaling is used to great effect too, with drawbridges raising and falling smoothly, and entire levels rotating around effortlessly at certain points.

Super Castlevania IV gave the series the boost it needed to go on to become legendary, and Simon Belmont’s quest to defeat Dracula is still enjoyed by gamers to this day.

More: Super Castlevania IV on Wikipedia

Salamander, Arcade

Konami‘s Salamander is a classic scrolling shooter first released into arcades in 1986. It is part of the Gradius/Nemesis series and features both side-scrolling and vertically-scrolling gameplay set over six different levels.

Unlike Gradius, Salamander has a simultaneous two-player mode. Player one controls the Vic Viper from Gradius, and player two controls a new ship called Lord British (as far as I’m aware: this has nothing to do with Richard Garriott – founder of Origin Systems – who also calls himself Lord British and has done since the late ’70s).

The progressive weapons power-up system has been simplified in Salamader (over Gradius). Now you don’t have to activate a weapons change – it happens automatically when you pick up a dropped power-up. Salamander does retain the extra firepower pods, and the speed-ups, from the first game, but expands on the weapon types.

Ask anyone who’s played Salamander and they will probably mention the fire levels as being the ones that really stand out. As you move left to right, huge solar flares blast out from the fiery surface and you have to avoid being roasted. If you’re skilled enough you might even be able to fly through them…

Salamander is fairly unremarkable at the beginning to be honest, but does improve rapidly as the graphical tricks start to show themselves. The early levels are relatively easy and – of course – the later levels truly are ‘bullet hell’.

A number of home computer and console versions have been released over the years. The Commodore 64 version, by Imagine Software, is known for being very high quality. As is the PC Engine version. More modern re-releases are mostly emulated versions of the original arcade game, so are considered authentic.

More: Salamander on Wikipedia

Space Manbow, MSX

Space Manbow is an original MSX2 release from Konami. It first came out in 1989 and it ‘wowed’ home users with it fantastic graphics and smooth scrolling. Unfortunately it was never released outside of Japan.

Despite that, Space Manbow has garnered many admirers over the decades, and it is looked up on with great respect. It’s fairly easy to find and to play. BlueMSX is a brilliant emulator. You could try that.

Note: what is curious about this game is the title. Your ship is named after a fish called a “Mambo“, but Konami decided to change that to “Manbow“. You could say that something has been gained in translation in this case, rather than lost.

More: Space Manbow on Wikipedia

Hyper Sports, ZX Spectrum

This British conversion of Konami‘s Hyper Sports arcade game is a smash hit ZX Spectrum game – arguably one of the best Spectrum arcade conversions of all time.

Swimming, skeet shooting, vaulting, archery, triple jump, and weightlifting all feature – just like in the arcade game. Don’t be too put off at the prospect of a lot of joystick waggling. Thankfully Hyper Sports is more than just a button-basher. There’s also some skill and timing involved too.

Beautifully programmed by the late Jonathan Smith, Hyper Sports was initially published by Imagine Software in 1985.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyper_Sports

Hyper-Sports-Imagine-artwork-by-Bob-Wakelin
Hyper Sports artwork by Bob Wakelin.

Mikie, ZX Spectrum

A beautiful conversion of the cult Konami arcade game, Mikie, programmed by Jonathan Smith and published by Imagine Software in 1985.

Mikie features six single screens of action, starting with a school classroom, then a locker room, then a cafeteria, then a dance studio (!), then finally a garden. “But that’s only five!” I hear you scream. Yes: true, but each of those screens is inter-cut with a different horizontal corridor chase screen interlude scene stage, so I’d call that screen six.

Mikie on the Spectrum is playable and smooth and a reasonable amount of fun if you know what you’re doing.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikie

Mike-artwork-by-Bob-Wakelin
Mikie artwork by Bob Wakelin.