We video game enthusiasts divide ourselves according to our favorite consoles, our favorite genres, and how we stand on certain social issues. The discourse between our groups tends to get choppy -- even heated. There's one subject that that causes us to stand and speak as one voice, however: Our universal unhappiness with Konami.
Konami's contributions to the game industry are nothing short of legendary. The Castlevania games shaped platformers from the 8-bit era clear through the days of 32-bit. Metal Gear Solid proved games can be powerful narrative devices, plus it demonstrated how an action game doesn't necessarily need to have the protagonists' guns blazing at all times. Even the "Konami Code" (up up, down down -- you know the rest) has earned a place in pop culture.
Sparkster and Rocket Knight Adventures. Gradius. Suikoden. Contra. Dance Dance Revolution. Most of Konami's biggest franchises changed the industry in some significant way, to say nothing of how they shaped our memories.
But like a dragon nesting on top of a hoard of treasure it has no intention of spending, modern-day Konami is disinterested in sharing its rich history with the games industry. Granted, if you're a twenty- or- thirty-something who loves games, you're probably already used to seeing franchises fade into dust, or become free-to-play mobile apps. But Konami's cold war against the games industry isn't strictly about business decisions. There's a certain meanness to its actions that are absent from, say, Capcom of Japan's disinterest in making a new Rockman game.
Konami's unceremonious expulsion of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and his staff is uncomfortable to recall. Unfortunately, it's one chapter in a long story about Konami reportedly treating its veteran game designers like the used gym towels they're now supposedly employed to wash.
Video games are such a passion-inducing product because they mix business with creativity. Studios and publishers are sometimes forced to make profit-related decisions that conflict with the creative side of game-making. Konami is a bit of a special case, though: It appears to want to dump game development entirely because there's easier, safer money to be made in its gym and gambling ventures.
That'd be much easier to swallow if Konami weren't so callous about its new direction. Not long after severing its ties to Hideo Kojima as messily as possible, the company revealed it's making a Pachinko machine based around Metal Gear Solid. Sure enough, Konami made good on its promise.
Now, a standard Metal Gear Solid Pachinko machine would be sigh-inducing on its own. Konami wants nothing to do with one of the game series that made it an artistic juggernaut in the games industry, nor does it want anything to do with the fans who helped elevate Konami to that level. So seeing Snake's visage on a gambling machine stings, to be sure.
But the real bullet in Naked Snake's eye is how said Pachinko machine displays a gorgeously remodeled version of Metal Gear Solid 3's most memorable cutscene: Naked Snake confronting his mentor, Boss. It's a beautiful remake of one of gaming's most poignant cinematic moments, and it's on a machine that exists only to siphon money from businessmen. We'll almost certainly never see it in an actual modern remake of Metal Gear Solid 3.
(The cutscene is built with Kojima Productions' Fox Engine, by the way.)
Konami's gradual conversions of its prized properties into gambling machines is tone-deaf at best and mean-spirited at worst. When I saw the trailer for Erotic Violence (not work-safe!), listened to the awesome remix of Bloody Tears, and watched the triple-7s line up, I automatically thought, "Dang, Konami. Castlevania is really special. How can it mean so little to you now?"
Remember that scene in Back to the Future 2 when bully Biff Tannen grabs some kids' ball, asks, "You want this?" then throws it out of reach onto someone's roof? Whenever the topic of Konami comes up, I really relate to those kids.