Konami is back in a big way, and rumors are making the rounds. Their Silent Hill showcase was a feast for starving fans, setting an exciting precedent. The company is resurrecting their established IPs for remakes, sequels and spinoffs. Now that the floodgates are open, eager fans are setting their hearts on all those dormant series ripening in the Konami vault.
The company is making some smart moves. Fans who lost faith in Konami in the late 2010s wouldn’t be as eager to risk hope on a new IP. Silent Hill in particular hasn’t had a complete title since 2012. Hideo Kojima’s entry was canceled and even the teaser demo, P.T., was infamously delisted. In their first major video game press release in years, Konami announced a Silent Hill 2 remake, a new SH sequel, a spin-off title from a beloved developer and a new SH movie. This kind of attention is more than a mere olive branch; they are eager to bring their best IPs back to life.
Bringing them back won’t be easy. Survival horror remakes have a healthy precedent set by Capcom, so SH2 is a safe choice to lead their Silent Hill resurrection plan with. Other titles may have more trouble finding their footing in the 2020s. Artistic and business considerations collide in AAA game development, and many companies struggle to find a healthy balance. If Konami continues to value remakes as a way to reestablish their IPs, they have some tough decisions ahead. Here are a few Konami games that would be well worth the coveted remake treatment.
1. Metal Gear
Original Release Date: July 13, 1987
The rumor mill indicates that MGS3 will be the Metal Gear title chosen for a remake. It’s the smartest decision from a marketing perspective, of course. Remaking the nearly 20 year old fan favorite that’s the chronological starting point is the safest bet. The problem is, the game still plays like it came out yesterday. Subsistence in particular is clean, fun and has mechanical depth.
Think instead how many Metal Gear fans have actually played the MSX titles? They are canon, after all. Even though they’ve aged much better than their home computer peers, they’re still unwieldy for modern players to pick up — much less finish.
Modernizing the action stealth gameplay of this title would lower the barrier for entry. Solid Snake is a fan favorite, and watching him grow into the legend we play as in MGS1 would make many happy. Since the original MSX title isn’t even in 3D, the developers would have plenty of room to experiment and bring a new voice to it.
MGSV’s story implications affect this title as well. Characters from The Phantom Pain could make appearances, have more time to get fleshed out and maybe even show up as bosses. A remake in this fashion would feel more like a sequel. With the right script, it would be the perfect entry point for new players while still making satisfying developments to the story for old fans.
2. Suikoden II
Original Release Date: December 17, 1998
Suikoden II fans finally have the remaster to look forward to later this year. This is one of those games that JRPG fans hold up as a pinnacle of the genre but for so long hadn’t been (legally) playable without the original PS1 disc. Anyone have $250 and a CRT?
JRPGs look a lot different than they used to, though. Even series that retain many of their turn-based combat elements implement them much differently today. Take a look at Dragon Quest XI or Persona 5. Both games handle encounters, presentation and exploration on a much larger scale, usually to make the game more immersive and open. This kind of remake would suit Suikoden II well, especially for its massive army battles.
That doesn’t mean getting the Final Fantasy VII Remake treatment is off the table, though. This game has room for a lot of new fans, and giving it the modern action RPG treatment would bridge the gap between turn-based and action fans without attempting to replace the original. Both the remaster and the remake could live side by side, offering distinct ways to experience this absolute classic.
3. Silent Hill
Original Release Date: January 31, 1999
I know why Konami chose Silent Hill 2. Remaking the game that caused the most buzz will likely cause more buzz itself. If we’re talking most deserving, though, the first Silent Hill game is a slog to play today.
Of course the environments and story are still stunning, and its revolutionary horror design decisions can be seen in many modern horror games. These struggle to make up for the middling gameplay and poor pacing. The tedious sewer section, the bland boss fights and mediocre signposting are frustrating — especially for first-time players. SH2 addresses many of these problems, e.g. I still got lost but never wandered aimlessly, the bosses had just enough mechanic depth to remain engaging. Fewer elements from SH2 need a boost to meet modern gaming expectations.
SH1 retains a unique voice even in its own series. Players endure its problems because its identity is so strong. It deserves a surgeon’s touch, removing only those pieces that are useless hindrances while retaining decisions that seem bad but lend to that voice.
4. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Original Release Date: December 22, 1989
Castlevania is a tricky series to consider remakes for. The 2D series has a lasting identity that’s still relevant in 2023. Pick up Symphony of the Night or Aria of Sorrow and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re modern indie titles. Remaking any of the original three NES titles in the vein of modern equivalents like Hollow Knight or Metroid Dread would be worthwhile.
2D games aren’t going to get Konami’s big, AAA remake budget, though. In a series as flexible as Castlevania, remaking the NES titles into modern 3D action games wouldn’t be out of place; the Lords of Shadow subseries had 2D presence on handheld consoles and 3D on seventh gen home consoles. Hell, even the first Castlevania game was remade for new hardware as Super Castlevania IV on the SNES.
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse would be the best NES title to remake. From a story perspective, it’s a prequel to the first Castlevania game, providing an excellent gateway into the series for newcomers. As for gameplay, there are multiple playable characters with distinct combat styles. This leaves plenty of room for mechanical variety and depth, could increase replay value and keep the pace up. Most importantly, it leaves the door open for sequels: Castlevania and Simon’s Quest.
5. Boktai: The Sun is In Your Hand
Original Release Date: July 17, 2003
Boktai is often overlooked because it was built around a bizarre, portable-specific gimmick. To charge up Django’s Solar Gun, you would need to take your GBA game cartridge outside to absorb sunlight. This sunlight would be released in-game to defeat Dracula’s hordes of darkness.
The games were so much more than the gimmick, though. The final entry in the series was developed for two methods of play: real sunlight or an in-game mechanic. Since it was on the DS, the GBA slot could take a Boktai game and use the cartridge to charge the solar gun. Even playing without the classic charging method, Kojipro developed a wildly entertaining game boiling over with spaghetti western and Castlevania energy.
These games — like their crossover counterpart Mega Man Battle Network — deserve more recognition in the west. Their innovation and charm could live again with mobile AR remakes akin to Pokémon Go, drawing in sunlight on your walk in preparation for the castle of darkness just up the road. Otherwise they’ll probably fade away in a code repository somewhere. Stalwart fans like me can hope, though, that we’re on the cusp of a bonafide Konami renaissance.
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