So you may have heard that popular horror playable teaser P.T. was taken off of PSN and that Silent Hills, the game it teased, was canceled. You might have also heard about Hideo Kojima’s business troubles with Konami. Or perhaps you might have heard about Koji Igarashi funding his Castlevania-style game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, through Kickstarter, since he is no longer employed at Konami. What happened to the once powerful company of the past? What happened to cause major players like Kojima and Igarashi to become fed up with the company? And why is Konami acting like a disgruntled ex-partner and removing Kojima’s name from his own works?
Let’s rewind it back a bit to a time when Konami was about more than Pro Evolution Soccer and Metal Gear Solid. When I was growing up in the 90’s, Konami was one of the big boys, up there with Capcom and Squaresoft as one of my favorite developers. There was a lot of variety to choose from, with something for every type of gamer. If you liked guns and ships shooting things, you had Contra and Gradius. If you liked platforming, you had Rocket Knight Adventures and Castlevania. And if you liked awesome television tie-ins, you had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose!, and The Simpsons Arcade Game. Regardless of your preferred genre, each one of these games was unique, challenging, and engaging. I spent countless hours in front of the television destroying the pig army in Rocket Knight and massive multiplayer fun was had playing The Simpsons.
During the PlayStation era, Konami upped its ante by delving into even more genres. They struck gold with Silent Hill, entering the world of survival horror with a game that ups the tension with eerie radio static signals and a flashlight to see through the fog that hid terrible monstrosities. They tried their hand at RPGs with the popular Suikoden series. Hell, they even experimented with one of their more well known series, turning Castlevania from a platformer into the RPG/exploration mixture known as Symphony of the Night (enter Igarashi). Also, a young Hideo Kojima made a name for himself by perfecting the stealth genre with a little ol’ game called Metal Gear Solid. Konami was on a roll (the PlayStation Contra games notwithstanding).
Fast forward to the PS2 era, and there were some solid hits. Konami tried to do the mech genre justice with the Zone of the Enders series (also made by Kojima), and even revitalized classics, like they did with Gradius V. The Silent Hill series continued to intrigue, as did Metal Gear, and Contra saw a glorious return with Shattered Soldier. But some blemishes started to show up. Castlevania started to veer more into 3D despite the negative reception of the N64 titles that first experimented with that formula, and games like Lament of Innocence and Curse of Darkness failed to achieve that same burning flame of glory like Symphony achieved (though the series continued to have strong outings on the GBA and DS). Still, things were looking good over at Konami.
Once the 360/PS3 era hit, things started going downhill at Konami. Metal Gear Solid 4 delighted, but other series started crumbling. Team Silent bored fans with Homecoming and Downpour (they even messed up the ports of Silent Hill 2 and 3 with their HD Collection, which contained massive slowdown and bugs). The decent Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (which was only decent because it aped Shadow of the Colossus at times) paved the way for the abysmal sequel and its horrendous stealth sections. Gone were shooters like Gradius and Contra (though Hard Corps was good, it was developed by Arc Systems Works), and fresh ideas like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance were made by other developers (in this case Platinum Games). New IPs were nonexistent, and gamers started pining for the days of old.
Today, Konami is a mere shadow of their former self. They have Pro Evolution Soccer and Metal Gear Solid coming in the foreseeable future, and that’s it. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks to be a wonderful send off for Kojima, except Konami is absolutely going to continue the series without him at the helm and milk it for all it’s worth. Silent Hills was to be Kojima’s and Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece, P.T. actually giving hope to those of us who wanted Silent Hill to return to its former glory, and it was killed and just about erased from existence (and you can bet they will try to milk Silent Hill some more without anyone nearly as talented as those two). The President of Konami told gamers the company was going to focus on mobile now (though he later clarified saying consoles were still a priority), but for many people, myself included, it is too little, too late. They have nothing left, all their talent has jumped ship, and they have burned a lot of bridges, between designers and the gamers who used to love them.
Wtf, Konami? I couldn’t be more disappointed in one of my heroes, and couldn’t be more depressed they killed my only hope for Silent Hill. I’m really upset over it, because I had been waiting YEARS for a promising new title in the Silent Hill series after it went downhill after Silent Hill 3 (IMO), and Silent Hills looked so promising based on P.T. We’ll always have the past to remember, but Konami’s future is looking pretty DOA right now. They’ve gone from a company that celebrated their artistry and history to a company that only cares about profit and playing it safe by embracing mobile gaming and pachinko machines. A damn shame.
Arthur Damian is a full-time Transfer Specialist at CUNY School of Professional Studies, working in the Office of Academic Advisement. At 35 years old, Arthur has a BA in English and loves to read...