Konami: Making Small Waves

I don’t often go on nostalgia trips, since they tend to end up being very disappointing. For years I eagerly awaited the moment that Disney would release The Black Cauldron (Dutch: Taran en de Toverketel) on DVD. In my memory, I had built the film up to be this big, scary event. It was pulled off the market for about twenty years (?), supposedly for making kids cry and therefore being a flop. At the time of the premiere there had been a lot of hype about the luminous mist in the movie, which was created with technology that was then cutting edge. As soon as the DVD came out, I bought it, ran home and… found out that it was mediocre and childish.

I have not had that experience revisiting my greatest childhood hobby, a couple of years ago: MSX games from Konami. By today’s standards, the animation is seriously simple but the gameplay of my favourites has aged well, and the primitive music is still catchy. I don’t know why somebody hasn’t bundled them and sold them in a Nostalgia package, as has happened with other games from now defunct systems. I would happily revisit them on my Nintendo DS and think they would actually look pretty good on there. (Konami recently did bundle some games for DS, but not the good stuff, in my opinion.) As far as I know, the only way to play them now is:

a. hunt down a secondhand MSX and the original cartridges.
b. download them online somewhere to be played with an emulator on your pc.
The first option is way too costly in both time and money, the second one is potentially illegal unless you own the original cartridge. If you don’t, the game should be deleted from your computer 24 hours after downloading. (Though who will be checking this, I don’t know.) Possibly, you will be able to download them to your XBOX 360 or Wii or Playstation 3. But to me it seems clear they belong on the cosy screen of your handheld, like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which very easily made the GameBoy Advance its new home.

What sparked this nostalgia? Well, I visited the site of a company that readies games for the European market and was planning on sending them an e-mail in which I named some of my favourite games.
Reflecting on my past as a gamer, I went and looked up an MSX fansite with information on Konami games – I found out that Konami means ‘small waves’ – which also featured some covers. Just seeing Maze of Galious still warms my thirty-something heart. It was the first game I ever bought myself, having slowly saved up money for this epic spending. It starred two cute little knights (one male and blue, one female and pink) running around a cute little castle, gathering cute little objects while fighting cute little monsters and the occasional Boss (Big Monster). I will have to see if I can still find that cartridge somewhere and go Old School. I will leave Salamander aside; this was a frustrating, never-finished (by me) shoot ’em up that nearly had my MSX2 being flung out of a window on several occasions.

Ah, and then there is the first game I ever played, Jet Set Willy on the ZX Spectrum. But let us not speak of such things…

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