Konami’s comeback is a welcome deep cut

I apologize for being sentimental about nothing worthy of the corporate logo, but it’s still warm to see the Konami logo again when launching a new game. For all the frustrations you can understand about Konami’s approach to traditional games in recent years-and even if the company’s flat red modern splash screen doesn’t match the iconic dash of the 90’s iterations- It’s great to get them back to what they did before. In the past it worked very well. It’s about creating a straight, edgy action game.

This new rogue platformer, just introduced in Steam Early Access today, is as amazing a return as it was inspired. Reach Konami’s unrivaled back catalog and pull it up, not Gradius, Castlevania, Silent Hill. Getsu Fuma Den, a remake of the 1987 side-scrolling action platformer, never left Japan. Even enthusiastic fans of Konami’s 80’s work can’t pretend to have ever played.

There is not too much similarity between the two. Rather, this remake is built on the bones of the original pretty tough 2D action, and its numerous weapons and crunchy combat provide all the perfect backbone you’ll know from modern roguelike games. Items and artifacts found along the way. It is affected by RNG and fairly brutal enemies who can swipe 6 times from their weapons.

It’s a familiar piece, but it’s an exemplary practice of indie developer Guru Guru (in collaboration with Konami) who thrives in a fantasy setting through a gorgeous art style that channels ukiyo-e artwork. From Ogami to the recent demon world of platinum, and far beyond, it’s an aesthetic now commonly used in video games, but Getsu Fuma Den wears it well, with black lines and splashes of color. Levels the airy smoke of. It’s a serious style.

Perhaps most importantly, the same style can be found in combat. This seems to be the main attraction of this early stage of life in Getsu Fuma Den’s Early Access. I don’t know exactly how many weapons there are in the current build, but after playing for a few hours, Spike Mace’s ridiculous thunk from the gust of umbrella. Each one shines with its own combo set, conveyed in perfect hit poses, demonstrating that this is a seriously acting game.

The calmness and elegance of Konami’s 80’s greats can be seen here, even if they are occasionally hidden in early access releases that, of course, seem incomplete. It’s easy to lose sight of the enemy, and it’s not very readable in battles that the enemy tells you through the swirling Dervish of your actions. Also, being able to compete effectively seems too difficult at this point. Also, how does it maintain its appeal across multiple runs, and how does its most important balance work for longer plays?


I’m not sure, but that’s not the only question raised by Getsu Fuma Den. Is this the beginning of a collaborative comeback from Konami, indicating that the back catalog is open to interested third parties, or is returning to the business of creating traditional games? Does that mean? In an interview with Konami, I introduced some of them in the email below, but for now it feels like the first baby step before a more collaborative comeback. How will it develop in the process of early access development for Getsu Fuma Den, and what will it mean for Konami in the near future? I don’t know for sure, but I want to know.

It’s great that Konami makes a game like this again. What is the reason for the lack of traditional game development in recent years?

Konami Europe Brand Manager Celine Converez: Konami has been continuously developing and publishing video game entertainment for the past 50 years, but with the diversification of playing methods and players, the output is undoubtedly more distributed across platforms than in the past. Last year, Konami brought classic titles and new titles to new home video game consoles, cloud, mobile and VR devices in different regions. Several titles have already been announced, and more titles will be announced this year, so we hope it will be clearer and grow with success.

It’s also a fascinating way to come back-why did you choose Getsu Fuma Den in particular?

Celine Converez: The amazing benefit to everyone is originally in the production team, their creativity and their timeless love for all brands. In fact, GetsuFumaDen makes sense when considering reinventing and innovating past successes. It’s definitely a love letter to the original, but it’s not limited by the script-and there’s an unexpected twist that just gets noticed. In addition, the game skillfully blends Japanese roots with Western influences through gameplay and music, setting it apart from the rest. It’s a theme common to some of our most important titles, so it was also important to build on that tradition and keep it going.

Konami Producer Makoto Murato: In 2018, when small and artistic indie projects with excellent game systems and large-scale titles using Japanese themes began to gain popularity, we started planning around this title. I wanted to plan an artistic, Japanese-style midrange game with a good gaming system. “Getsu Fuma Den” was perfect for this, and had the advantage of not having a sequel or global release. There are many fans of “Getsu Fuma Den” in the team, and I wanted to work on the title, so I decided to make a fun project using this IP and started to make the concept of “Getsu Fuma Den: Immortal Moon”. It was.

Why did you choose the Early Access route?

Celine Converez: Early Access is a big part of titles like Hades and Dead Cells, and these types of games, including Getsu, really shine when refined and shaped by players who loop for dozens of hours. thought. The goal here was to improve by trial and error, and we needed to allow game development to react directly to fan feedback.

Makoto Murato: Early Access gives us the opportunity to improve the content of this title through user feedback. By listening to your users and creating discussions, you can improve the quality of this game and then publish it to more users. Opinions about the Steam community, Discord, or Twitter pages are read by the development team and take user feedback into account when creating new updates. GetsuFumaDen: A roguelike game similar to Undying Moon also shows that this genre works well in Early Access releases.

What about the NES originals you want to get back with this new version?

Makoto Murato: GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon uses Konami’s old IP and maintains the original 2D action for players who enjoyed the game. However, keep in mind that this title is a new game set about 1000 years after the original title. This is not a remaster of the original game, so many other elements are new. I want new young fans to enjoy this title as a new IP.


It’s made in collaboration with external developers-how much is it made inside Konami?

Makoto Murato: We cannot disclose the details, but we communicate deeply and continuously, change ideas, discuss with each other, and develop this title.

What was the process to get Getsu Fuma Den on track? Was it a pitch from an outside developer?

Celine Converez: Getsu Fuma Den got off to a good start thanks to Mr. Murato and the entire Japanese production team promoting this project in-house after the conception. It was surprising to discover a clear passion from art direction and combat movements, especially in the early stages of IP, which had never landed on the west coast. When you see a unique project that is endorsed with the belief and determination to evolve through the early stages of development, it’s natural to be inspired and provide support to continue the rest of your journey. is.

Makoto Murato: We are constantly inspired by the variety of indie titles and the ability to innovate and create exciting games. Getsu Fuma Den felt that it would be an interesting IP to bring back to follow this indie approach, so he knew the team well and decided to contact Guru Guru. They were looking for a new approach to graphic design and thought it would be perfect for this IP. It was also helpful to have fans of the original Getsu Fuma Den game within the GuruGuru team. For other collaborations, stay tuned for future projects like this!

Reviving old IP is a delight for fans, and obviously Konami has one of the richest collection of classic IP in video games. Is Konami working with external partners to help some partners come back?

Celine Converez: The beauty of true classics is that they endure the challenges of time and often illuminate a wide range of creative sparks. We look forward to sharing more information about other IPs when the time comes!


Series like Gradius are loved, but not the kind of game that has mainstream appeal-does partnerships with independent developers help make new things more possible? ?? (I apologize for choosing Gradius-it’s very important to my mind because I’m obsessed with the original Gradius 2 arcade board!)

Celine Converez: The number of development studios making video games around the world is really booming compared to when a series like Gradius was first created! Collaboration and crossovers with independent developers in existing series are now much more common, so there’s no doubt that more opportunities will open up. Since you are a fan, I believe Getsu Fuma Den shares DNA from several other Konami games-Gradius among them! I was used to Getsu Fuma Den before the interface was translated, so I just called the power-up system a “power-up bar like Gradius” and I always think of the series when I play. Now, GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is far from a side-scrolling shooter, and although it’s played in a very different way, I’m hoping to use the power-ups skillfully.

Is Konami trying to reestablish its position on a wider scale in traditional game development? Is this the beginning of a comeback?

Celine Converez: It’s tempting to think that repeating old moves can bring back past experiences, but beyond nostalgia, video games need to create a lasting experience, not to mention decades ago. It’s already different from 5 years ago. A team of few people is currently creating a world-class game on a scale that I’ve spent hundreds of hours on. Larger studios, on the other hand, are beginning to explore themes and short formats that are so old and independent developer-only. Konami has been making video games for more than half a century, but that doesn’t mean that the past holds the perfect blueprint for the future. When a video game has to be something else, it can be quite limited. So instead of looking back, GetsuFumaDen: Undying shows that in an industry that still needs innovation and change, it’s more adaptable and ready to continue reinventing the game. I think.


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