The 10 Best Classic Konami Arcade Games (2024)

Konami is one of the most controversial video game companies in the industry. They have classic franchises such as Contra, Metal Gear, Castlevania, and Silent Hill. But they've bowed out of making video games after mistreating creators and rushing products.

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The company's history extends well back into the age of the arcade. They made plenty of titles that at the time became gameplay innovators. The colored lights and sounds of Konami cabinets were a guarantee of a great game back in the past.


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Gradius is one of the originators of the shoot-em-up genres. The game was a pioneer in side-scrolling shooters and featured many power-up upgrades. These included speed increases, spread guns, and options, which follow behind the space ship and fire their own shots. These would all become standards for the genre.

Gradius' biggest innovation was probably in its boss fights. The boss fights in Gradius all had weak points called cores that players needed to shoot when open, giving a layer of strategy. This led to some truly out-there boss battles. The series had seven sequels and even a few spin-offs.


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Beat-em-up games were really popular in the 90's. Konami was chief among the manufacturers of these wild titles, leading with big licenses and gimmicks. And none stood prouder than their X-Men game. This arcade machine used two monitors to let the action play out.

Released in 1992, the game featured six different playable characters. Wolverine, Cyclops, Colossus, Storm, Dazzler, and Nightcrawler go on an adventure to rescue Professor X from Magneto. The game is fondly remembered for it's cheesiness and voice acting. Hearing Magneto call the player character "X-chicken" in a crunchy digitized voice was great back in the day.

The Simpsons

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The Simpsons is a media juggernaut. The endless new episodes of America's favorite family seem like they're never going to stop. But in 1991, when The Simpsons Arcadewas released, the characters and world weren't as defined. That's perhaps why this game gets Bart's shirt wrong and features as many references to Matt Groening's Life in Hell as the show itself.

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But just because the game wasn't accurate doesn't meanit wasn't excellent. It featured tons of levels all over Springfield with tons of varieties of enemies and bosses. It also features a great soundtrack based on the show's opening theme and tons of bonus games. Despite the game misinterpreting the show, it's fondly remembered as one of the best Simpsons games.


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Konami has an entire division called Bemani that only exists to make rhythm based arcade games. There's tons of these, but Jubeat is among the best. The cabinet for Jubeat consists of a screen above a 4x4 grid of buttons displayed over a video screen. The buttons are to be pressed in time with music.

The top screen is used to pick a song. Once chosen, the bottom screen will show a series of lighted up prompts that cue the player for presses. This style of gameplay is similar to the Elite Beat Agents series from the Nintendo DS. The game was popular enough to receive mobile versions as well.

Sexy Parodius

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Video games are no stranger to parody. But it's a little rarer for the developers to parody their own work. The Parodius series was a parody of Gradius made by a lot of the same developers. The series still featured shoot-em-up gameplay, but the settings were much different. They featured large cartoon characters and bizarre settings like theme parks.

Sexy Parodius is probably the best of the Parodius titles. This is due to its high amount of playable characters and variety of levels. Of course, the title isn't just for show so players who are not used to adult content may want to play a different Parodius. The game also featured a lot of women as bosses, including Medusa and a Vegas showgirl.

Sunset Riders

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The wild west is a popular setting for video games. The desperadoes and lawless nature of the time lends itself well to open-world mechanics and shooting. And inthe '90s, Sunset Riders was a rip-roaring good time that mixed shooting gallery with shoot-em-up.

The players would control one of several outlaw characters, controlling them from behind a third-person perspective. Enemies will then flow into the map, firing shots that players must dodge. It's a tough game that really matches the feel of a gunfight. The game is available on SNES online on the Nintendo Switch.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a lot of excellent games. So much so that there's a collection of TMNT games releasing soon. But for lots of fans, Turtles in Time will always be the all-time classic. This beat-em-up stands above Konami's other beat-em-up fair for being a perfect blend of gameplay and license.

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The game begins with a cutscene of April O'Neil reporting that feels right out of the cartoon. The enemies and bosses appear from all over the series. The playable characters include all four turtles, and a second iteration of the cabinet was made to allow four players simultaneously. The subtitle is also accurate, as the game has locations from the past, present, and future.


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Contra is best known for being an extremely tough NES game. But it actually started life in the arcades. The run and gun gameplay of Bill and Lance's jungle adventure does make a lot more sense for a quarter muncher, after all. The arcade original is often considered weaker than the NES counterpart, but it's still a classic.

The game features two giant pastiches of 80's action heroes mowing through lines of enemies in the Jungle. Its inspiration wasn't only in Rambo and Commando, however. In the later stages, gigantic aliensreminiscent ofAlien appear as the main villains. The mid-way plot switch and giant difficulty curve made the series a classic.


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It's possible a lot of gamers didn't know that Frogger was a Konami game. This was one of the classic games of the early 80's that often feels very apart from the rest of Konami's franchises. The simple gameplay is a big part of that. There's not very many mechanics aside from simply crossing the highway and the river.

But simplicity allowed the game to excel in its age. There's a famous Seinfeld episode about the game, after all. Konami made several attempts to bring the character back and make it a franchise. But the original classic is still what gamers remember.

Dance Dance Revolution

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Before the days of Just Dance, there was another premiere dancing game. The Dance Dance Revolution is one of the most iconic arcade machines ever made. Everyone can recognize the pad with it's arrows. Dancing and stomping on the buttons in combination with the on screen prompts mixed exercise with gaming.

The games featured both licensed tunes and in-house compositions. The vibes and high-energy nature of DDR has caused it to be referenced and parodied all over the place. Friday Night Funkin' and plenty of other rhythm games take gameplay inspiration from it. It's a big pioneer in the rhythm video game space, and definitely the most fondly remembered of Konami's arcade hits.

NEXT: 10 Best Rhythm Games For Beginners

The 10 Best Classic Konami Arcade Games (2024)
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