All Together Then: KonaMIA
Three conspicuous omissions from Konami's recent retro fever
We've all been ruddy bloody spoiled by Konami lately, who have been issuing compilations like a teenager's face issues acne. Arcade, Castlevania and Contra comps in the space of a few months! Retrogaming manna from heaven. But it got me to thinking; what about those games that aren't showing up on compilations? Konami have a huge library of respected classics and it strikes me as bizarre that some of them have never seen a re-release as part of a collection.
As a break from format for All Together Then, let's take a look at three Konami classics that have never been compiled before.
The seminal cowpoke-'em-up was ported to SNES and Genesis with varying success, but the superlative arcade original has never been seen on any system since its 1991 release. It was briefly rumoured to be making an appearance on the Xbox 360's short-lived Game Room service, but this amounted to nothing. It's a wild west take on Contra (from the same director - Hideyuki Tsujimoto), with astonishingly brilliant pacing, memorable boss battles and terrifically dynamic, colourful graphics. The music is superb, too, especially the theme that plays on the second level that sees you chasing down a train on horseback.
It's fondly remembered for a reason and it staggers me that Sunset Riders - and its spiritual successor Mystic Warriors, for that matter - have never turned up on any modern systems.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Okay, admittedly, it's pretty understandable why Turtles in Time has never seen a re-release. It's a licensed game and those very rarely show their faces. However, the arcade version of the game did show up as an unlockable in the wretched Gamecube/PS2 title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Nightmare (with the wrong music) and also got a remake for Xbox 360/PS3, but it's absolute toilet. The arcade game frankly pales in comparison to the SNES port in any case, and it's the Nintendo version that I wish would see the light of day once more. Extra levels, better balanced, mind-blowingly good music, fantastic use of Mode 7. To this writer, it's the best belt scroller of all time.
Actually, if they could get the rights untangled, I'd love to see a Konami TMNT Anniversary Collection, comprising the NES, Game Boy, SNES and GBA titles. Those Game Boy Advance efforts based on the 2003 cartoon are underrated as heck. In fact, they need Re(?)Considering at some time in the near future...
Rocket Knight Adventures
Finally, we come to a series that has never really got its dues. Yes, there was that game back in 2010. The less said about that point-missing nonsense, the better. 1993's Rocket Knight Adventures is a Genesis tour-de-force, rammed to the gills with invention and excitement. Taking control of Sparkster - the Rocket Knight himself - you blitz through numerous varied and pacey levels with big, chunky arcadey graphics and larger-than-life setpieces. As far as I'm concerned, it resides at the very apex of Konami's 16-bit output. Its sequels, two entirely different games both named Sparkster, hit SNES and Genesis the following year , offering somewhat more subdued but still thoroughly enjoyable follow-ups that suffered from a less refined difficulty curve. Nonetheless, I'd love to see all three games released together in some capacity. They deserve another moment in the sun.
Konami have already implied that they want to release more compilations, so I'd be delighted if this article were rendered superfluous in the near future. Sunset Riders, at the very least, surely has enough residual fondness out in the gaming sphere to make its reappearance worthwhile. Here's hoping.