March 25, 2023

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Konami’s comeback is a welcome deep cut – and perhaps the start of something

Apologies for getting sentimental about nothing more worthy than a corporate logo but still, there’s something warming about seeing the Konami logo on boot-up of a new game once again. For all the understandable frustrations about Konami’s approach to traditional games in recent years – and even if the company’s flat red modern splash screen can’t match the iconic dashes of the 90s iteration – it’s wonderful to have them back doing something they used to do so very well in the past: making straight-up, hard-edged action games.

This new roguelike platformer that’s just hit Steam Early Access today is a return as surprising as it is inspired, a bonafide deep cut of a thing that reaches into Konami’s peerless back catalogue and pulls up not Gradius, Castlevania, or Silent Hill but this: Getsu Fūma Den, a remake of a 1987 side-scrolling action platformer that never made its way out of Japan, and something even a wide-eyed devotee of Konami’s 80s output can’t pretend to have played before.

Not that there’s too much similarity between the two; rather, this remake builds upon the bones of the fairly stark 2D action of the original, its multitude of weapons and crunchy combat providing the perfect backbone for everything you’ll know from the modern roguelike: upon every run you’re picking a build from items and artefacts you find on your way, subject to RNG and some fairly brutal enemies that might take a half dozen swipes from whatever weapon you might find in hand.

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