Konami Wai Wai World (1988)
Platform: Nintendo Famicom
Thanks to Neo Demiforce for the translation and logo!
If comic book crossovers happen all of the time (remember the hideous Hanna Barbara cartoon Superfriend?) why not video game characters? Although a cartoon series was made with various stars for American TV (Captain N: The Game Master) there hasn't been an actual video game like that. Konami World is an interesting Famicom game that takes various Konami stars and puts them together into a neat action/adventure title.
The plot runs something like this: Konami World is under attack by vile aliens and baddies. The protagonists of a bunch of Konami games have been kidnapped, and under the command of Twinbee's Dr. Cinnamon, they must be found! You start as Konami Man and Konami Girl, you pick one of the six stages available to rescue them. (Konami Man had guest appearances in The Goonies 2 and Stinger for the NES, and Legend of the Mystical Ninja for the SNES.) Two players can take on evil forces side by side.
The group of heroes include Simon Belmont from Castlevania, Goemon from the Goemon games (Mystical Ninja), Fuuma from Getsufuu Maden, a Moai head from Gradius, Mikey from Goonies, and King Kong from, well, King Kong (Konami made a game called "King Kong 2" for the Famicom.) Probably the reason this game was never released in the United States was that nobody in the USA had ever heard of Goemon until Mystical Ninja for the SNES, and Konami skipped over Getsufuu Maden completely. So nobody would know who some of these characters were.
Once you enter a level, the game has a somewhat adventerous feel. You must first hunt around the level to find a key, and then find the captured hero before he can be unleashed. A few of the levels has bosses guarding the keys. When a player is rescued, you can change into them at any time. Each character has their own method of attack (Simon has a whip, Moai bashes enemies with his head, etc.) and their own life bar. There are also special weapons hidden throughout the stages for each character (Mikey has a slingshot, Simon throws crosses, Konami Man and Girl get Beam Guns, etc.) However, firepower is limited, as each time you use one, you use up missiles that are dropped by enemies. These missiles also serve another purpose...get 100 of them and you can resurrect a dead hero. There are also a few additional power ups that increase your offense and defense abilities, as well as gifting flight to Konami Man and Girl.
Although you can choose you levels, the pattern you must follow is actually rather linear. For instance, you can't enter the Moai or Getsufuu stage without having Kong (unless you find the flying cape), you can't enter the Kong stage without Mikey, and you can't really do anything in the Goonies stage without Simon. In other words, you really only have to pick between Goemon (who has the ability to pick up and open flashing boxes on the ground) or Castlevania.
Once you've saved everybody, you get to choose between the Vic Viper (from Gradius) and the Twinbee (from the Twinbee games) and fly in an overhead shooter segment. Considering how difficult Konami shooters can be, this part is actually rather easy. After defeating the hideous boss monster, you fly into its mouth and into its body, where you exit to attack on foot for the final side-scrolling level.
All of this would make for an excellent game...I personally love exploration, finding the various Konami characters in their own levels is pretty cool, and the addition of the shooter segment is incredibly awesome. Unfortunately, also like many Konami games, it's damn near impossible. Since you start off with only Konami Man and Girl, once you lose them, it's game over. Their attacking range is pathetically short and weak, as many enemies take more than one hit to kill. The enemies drop plenty of hearts, which is nice, but it's still not enough. The game gets easier as you add more characters to your force, but it still remains hard.
And one of the reasons why it's still difficult is the control. While normally controlling okay, there are a few instances where the mechanics get in the way of the game. When you jump and press backwards, most of the time you expect to face the opposite direction. Not here. You simply move backwards, still facing forward. This gets really annoying when fighting bosses, like when you need to turn around and attack. Also, your hand-to-hand attacks can't harm more than one enemies at once, which gets on your nerves A LOT at the end of the game. Plus you don't pause the game to change characters, you cycle through them by pressing Up and A. Add this with the overly aggressive enemy attacks and difficult stages, and at times Konami World becomes a real tool of frustration.
When you rescue the hero of the level, you aren't sent back to headquarters. Oh no. Instead, you must trek back through the stage to the entrance. So if you're nearly out of energy by the time you get to the end, it's incredibly difficult to get back. You DO get to keep the rescued hero if all of your characters die (so you don't have to play the blasted level over), but you'll need to gather tons of missiles in order to pay for the resurrection of your pals.
The visuals live up to the typical NES Konami standards. Although not jaw-dropping, they're well detailed and well represent the game you're supposed to be in. The music in the game is affected by whom you control and not the level you're in. Each character has their own theme and it's all pretty cool (Simon has his "Vampire Killer" first level theme from the original Castlevania. I would've preferred if Mikey had Cyndi Lauper's "Good Enough" song as his theme, but I guess they couldn't get the rights. Oh well.)
In a nutshell, Konami World is an excellent idea that is somewhat tarnished by some gameplay problems. It's still an incredibly neat game to play through, even if the aggrivation can get a bit overwhelming.
Wai Wai World Artwork
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Castlevania Games - Konami Wai Wai World