The Konami Code
CONTENT REFRESH: Konami
You might not be familiar with the Konami brand, but there’s a good chance that you’ve played one of the company’s games, at one time or another. That’s because Konami has grown, developed and diversified over the years, and along the way, it’s created some of the most iconic franchises in the gaming world. If you ever played the arcade game Frogger, back in the early 1980s, if you’ve thrilled to the Silent Hill games and movies, or queued up to purchase the next instalment of the Metal Gear series, then you already know what this software developer is capable of.
A brief history of Konami
The company first saw the light of day as far back as 1969, when Kagemasa Kozuki decided to upgrade his jukebox repair and rental business in downtown Osaka. He decided on the Konami name after combining elements of his own name with those of his partners, Yoshinobu Nakama and Tatuso Miyasako. By taking the first part of each of their surnames - KOuzuki, NAkama and MIyasako, he came up with the Konami brand.
The new Konami company began its existence on 21st March 1969, headed up by Kagemasa Kozuki, who is still at the helm to this day. He quickly shifted his focus away from jukeboxes and towards arcade-style games instead. Having produced a number of arcade machines, the company began establishing an early reputation for creating fun and innovative games with the launch of Frogger on Atari consoles. This was swiftly followed by Super Cobra and Scramble, before the company diversified by producing games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was during this period that a number of highly popular games, including Castlevania, Twin Bee and Metal Gear first became available to players, with many titles still being played today.
Having manufactured its very first coin-operated amusement machine in 1978, Konami was quick to spot the potential for a growing overseas audience. By 1979, the company was exporting its products to the US, eventually establishing a dedicated base there, as well as further headquarters in Australia, to capitalise on all available opportunities.
And as gamers’ tastes have changed, Konami developers have done their best to accommodate emerging trends. Moves into rhythm-based dance arcade games soon followed, with popular titles including Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution.
Konami and the number 573
When you’ve played a few Konami games, you might start to notice that you keep coming across the number 573. It may seem entirely random, but as you might suppose, very little that this gaming powerhouse does is left completely to chance.
In fact, the number 573 is part of the Oriental wordplay involved in Goroawase. Because so many of the sounds that make up the Chinese and Japanese languages have multiple meanings, phrases and numbers can be used to represent them on occasions. It turns out the oriental mind loves nothing more than a pun or two, and Goroawase plays directly into this.
According to the principles of pronunciation, the word Konami can be easily represented by the numbers 573 when expressed in their shortened form. So using ‘ko’ for the number 5, ‘na’ for the number 7 and ‘mi’ for the number 3, this means that the word Konami and the number 573 became completely interchangeable. It probably works better if you’re fluent in the language though!
The company uses the number 573 extensively, so you’ll find it appearing within the organisation’s telephone numbers, as well as featuring as the high score for a number of popular games.
Main Konami products
Konami may have built its success on arcade games, but the company has never been afraid to diversify into other markets. In addition to manufacturing arcade game cabinets and developing a stable of online slots games, Konami is also a big name in the world of trading cards, having created the Yu-Gi-Oh! Card game, which is still popular to this day.
But the leisure industry never stops growing, and Konami has expanded further to take advantage of that fact. The organisation now also owns and runs a stable of health and fitness clubs too. In fact, there are a number of Konami companies operating around the world, all of which come under the parent holding company.
Today, Konami is hailed as being one of the largest video-game creators in Japan. Having foreseen the steady decline of the arcade game market, the company quickly diversified into online slots gaming, making sure that it was able to target areas for growth, such as within the US, for example. Setting up a base in Nevada allowed the company to take full advantage of its position, once it had acquired the necessary expertise to develop the sort of games that players would want to return to again and again.
The infamous ‘Konami Code’
If you’re a keen gamer, and particularly if you’ve ever enjoyed playing on Nintendo gaming consoles, then there’s a very good chance that you’ve happened upon the Konami Code. It first came to prominence when one of the developers, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, was frustrated by his inability to progress in the Gradius game, which he was working on. He created the cheat, which required the player to hit the controls up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A followed by Start.
Gradius was only a fairly simple scrolling game, but nonetheless, Hashimoto struggled to progress through the levels during the testing phase. His simple cheat code allowed him to progress without having to start afresh each time, but it quickly became widespread knowledge when he forgot to remove it from the finished game. As fans began sharing the code far and wide, Konami responded by enabling the same cheat code to work across other games that it was producing.
The Konami Code really came into its own with the 1988 release of Contra, where it gave players 30 extra lives. It quickly became known as the Contra Code, and the 30 Lives Code. Today, the Code has become almost iconic, featuring in several games produced by Konami, as well as a range of adverts and clothing.
Popular Konami slots games
With its oriental origins, you might expect that Konami games would be aimed primarily at a Japanese or Chinese audience, but this is not the case. Although some games are specifically aimed at this area of the market, most titles are created with a global audience in mind.
Even if you’ve never played the arcade game or the slots game, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across the Castlevania TV series. Konami first came up with the concept of a vampire-hunting family as far back as 1986, and created the original game for the Nintendo console, where it soon gained an army of fans.
Today, Konami has updated its original game, delivering up a dramatic-looking five-reel game with multiple rows of symbols, so there’s huge potential for stacking up some incredible wins. Spin up three or more scatter symbols, and you’ll benefit from a selection of free spins, and what could be better than taking a spin of the reels at no cost whatsoever!
And throughout your free spins, the wild takes on a completely new aspect. In addition to its previous role of substituting for other symbols to create winning lines, the wild can expand during the free spins, filling an entire reel. And whenever it does so, it makes a crack in the diamond that sits on top of the reel set. Once enough cracks have been created, the gem will shatter, releasing a helpful fairy who wants to lead you to her bonus game.
During the bonus game, you must try to sneak into Dracula’s formidable castle. You’ll be presented with a selection of hearts, each of which delivers a specific number of moves. Your objective is to make it all the way to the castle, and if you succeed, you’ll be presented with a choice of opponents to battle against. Win your battle, and you could be awarded the game’s progressive jackpot, so there’s plenty of incentive to do well!
At the present time, if you want to spin the reels of Castlevania, then you’ll need to head to a bricks-and-mortar casino to do so. But it’s likely to only be a matter of time before the game is available to online players too. And with Konami’s stated ambition to be the go-to brand for mobile online gaming, it’s certain to be the sort of game that will be able to be accessed on your smartphone or tablet, for gaming on the go.
One of Konami’s latest slots games, Great Moai is a celebration of all things Polynesian. So if you’re hankering after that summer holiday feeling, or simply fancy dipping your toes into some warm, tropical waters, this is almost certainly a game that you’ll want to try.
The action for the Great Moai slots game takes place across five reels, each containing three symbols. In addition to the famous Easter Island stone heads, you’ll also discover jewelled turtles, coconuts, tribal masks and stunning tropical flowers.
The game includes the popular Action Stacked Symbols feature too. Just before each spin, each reel contains spaces for multiple examples of the same icon. Just as you spin the reels, random symbols are allocated to each reel, where they will be multiplied across the vacant spaces, leading to stacked symbols, and therefore the potential for some impressive wins.
The wild stone head, and the carved scatter icon both add extra layers of interest to the game. The wild can help you to achieve winning lines, even when you don’t seem to have sufficient matching symbols, as it can stand in for most of the other symbols on the reels. Meanwhile, the scatter symbol can initiate a series of free spins, whenever you spin up three of more examples with a single spin. And they don’t have to appear on any payline either, so it’s not as difficult as you might suppose. There are up to 20 free spins to be won, so there’s excellent potential for amassing a generous prize payout without having to spend all of your balance in the process.
The game also offers a wild feature. This crops up frequently during the free games rounds, with entire reels turning wild, greatly improving your chances of scoring at least one winning line. And with a 2x multiplier alongside this feature, it’s no surprise that Great Moai has already won legions of fans around the world.
The Imperial Wealth online slots game takes players on a trip to China, where dragons are far from being the fearsome beasts of Western mythology. According to Oriental traditions, dragons are symbols of great wealth and good fortune, and the golden dragon that appears as the games Wild symbol is the perfect example, as it can help to trigger some handsome cash rewards.
In addition to the Dragon Wild and a Scatter symbol that can initiate a series of Free Games, Imperial Wealth also features the popular Konami Action Stacked symbols feature. Certain spaces on each reel are delineated by dotted lines. When the reels spin, these positions are taken up by multiple examples of the same symbol, which can trigger some potentially huge wins for you. Gorgeous graphics and some stunning animations help to raise this game far above the ordinary.
Cross the gypsy’s palm with silver, in this immersive five-reel slots game, and she’ll peer into her crystal ball to reveal your future. And it could hold a generous cash prize, at least if the reels spin in your favour.
Gypsy Fire has the unmistakable look of a Konami Games title, featuring bright, bold graphics set against a deep blue background, which allows the colour to really pop from the screen. The interface is clear and uncluttered, and perfectly configured to display seamlessly across every screen type, whether you prefer to play slots games on your desktop of laptop, or you favour the smaller screen size of a mobile or tablet.
Five reels and thirty paylines are filled with teacups, crystal balls, spell books and playing cards. There’s also the gypsy herself, complete with jewelled headdress, who is just waiting to tell you your fortune. Or is she waiting to hand you over a fortune? Only time will tell for sure.
Once again, Konami’s Action Stacked Symbols are waiting to deliver up an impressive array of matching symbols, hopefully creating some winning lines for you in the process. The crystal ball is Wild, helping to create winning lines even when you lack sufficient matching symbols, and there’s also a Scatter symbol too. This is represented by the game’s logo, and spinning up three or more examples, anywhere on the reels, will award you up to 20n Free Games.
Throughout the Free Games bonus round, the Wild crystal ball changes colour, awarding multipliers worth between 2x - 5x wherever they land, so you’re going to want to see them creating winning lines for you, hopefully creating a generous prize payout by the end of the feature.
Secret of the Mermaid
We’ve managed to unlock the Secret of the Mermaid, to discover that it’s essentially exactly the same game as Gypsy Fire. The only difference is in the symbols themselves, which not surprisingly take a deep-sea approach in this game.
Along with the titular mermaid, the reels also offer up a selection of ocean-themed symbols, including a rather playful porpoise, who’s been playing with sunken treasure and seems to be wearing an elaborate golden headdress. There are also some seashells, a pot filled with gold and some jewelled bracelets. A Wild symbol substitutes for most other symbols in the game to help create winning lines, and a Scatter symbol, which initiates the Free Spins bonus round.
The blazing sun is shining down on the reels of Solstice Celebration, adding warmth and sparkle to everything that its light touches. As well as the happy, smiling sunshine face of the sun itself, you’ll also discover a number of other sunny delights across the five reels of this intriguing game. There are sunflowers, brightly-coloured butterflies, a smiling horse with flowers entwined in its mane, and extravagant blue diamonds.
Once again, Konami has included its highly popular Action Stacked Symbols, which are here delineated by fiery red and orange lines. These lines show the spaces on the reels that will be filled with one single symbol following every spin. And as every keen slots player knows, Stacked Symbols offer up multiple chances to land a win, so they are always a popular and engaging feature that players look out for.
There’s a Sparkle Feature that comes with Solstice Celebration and increases your chances of winning. Any symbols with the flames surrounding them will nudge until all symbols across that reel carry the same symbol. It’s extremely popular with players, which is why Konami try to include it across as many of their titles as possible, ensuring that players will keep returning to their games, in the hope of receiving a generous prize payout.