An enticing look into Konami’s past

The Good Nintentions Gaiden series has — fittingly, but not deliberately — evolved into a running set of episodes about curios from the Japanese side of the NES era. This week we see this effect in action again with a fascinating Konami import title from the Famicom Disk System, Arumana no Kiseki.

This is one of those games whose story I’d love to hear. It so shamelessly rips off Indiana Jones, and specifically Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, that you really have to wonder if it was meant to be a properly licensed game. Konami already had a Spielberg property in hand — The Goonies — and the company produced several other licensed Famicom titles around this time, including Osamu Tezuka’s Hi no Tori and King Kong. But I was unable to find any firm details behind its history, so who knows…?

I’d also like to have included more footage of the game, but I couldn’t get beyond level three. I reached a point where I became trapped in a sort of canyon, where a spiked ball power-up respawned infinitely. I know the spiked ball is supposed to be able to break through walls, but I was unable to find a destructible wall before running out of continues. There are a lot of things I miss about the NES era, but unintuitive game design and frustrating mechanics ain’t part of that.

Also, now seems like a good time to mention that this video series is about to get a new name. Good Nintentions was a solid dad joke — I literally took it from a joke my father made when I was a kid — but as these video projects become a more serious endeavor under the Retronauts banner, both I and some of our prospective business partners feel it makes more sense to unify the different series. Thus projects like Good Nintentions, Game Boy World, and Mode Seven will now be the Works series: That is, “Game Boy Works”, “Nintendo Works”, “SNES Works”, and so forth. I love the Game Boy World name and would have been happy to use “World” as a brand of sorts, but the oldest Nintendo fansite on the Internet is called NES World, and it seemed a little gauche to swipe their name — that’s why I went with Good Nintentions rather than NES World in the first place

I’ve settled on Works for two reasons. One, because “Game Boy Works” has the same appealing, euphonic flow as “Game Boy World”; and two, because the name functions on a several practical levels. They’re video deep-dives into the workings of these creative works. And they’re comprehensive looks at those systems’ respective libraries, which is to say… the works.

And the new name will arrive at a good time for Good Nintentions (or rather, NES Works) in particular, since we’ve just finished with the NES launch library and are now moving along to subsequent and third-party releases. There’s a visual change in the library as we move away from the all-Black Box look, and a change in development ethos, so it feels like a natural break point.

8 Comments

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8 Responses to An enticing look into Konami’s past

  1. kerobaros

    But it definitely has nothing whatsoever to do with ELP’s similarly titled releases, right? :3

  2. Brain Breaker

    I might be able to dig up some history on this one from my old Japanese mags. I actually imported and beat this one shortly after it was released. I remember that I was immediately struck by a game mechanic they sort of reused from Roc’n Rope, which was an arcade favorite of mine a few years prior. I always thought they kind of missed the boat by not bringing this, Nicol and Dababa over to the NES.

    Speaking of the NES launch, did you have time to check out that link to NA I sent in my long-winded quasi-job application? You might find it amusing. Oh yeah, and regarding classic prog rock, definitely check that CD Reissue Wishlist link I sent. We made some pretty good discoveries for a few years there, especially Metaphysical Animation.

    First time commenter, but longtime fan. Looking forward to the ’86 NES book, for sure!

    • Please let me know if you do manage to unearth anything!

      • Brain Breaker

        Okay, so I dug up most of the issues that covered this game around the time of its release. As was usually the case, there wasn’t any talk of its development history, but I did notice a couple of interesting things that may lend some credence to your theory.

        Unusually, the game press had virtually no advance notice of its release. It just sort of popped out of nowhere a week or two before it came out, with almost nothing in the way of rumors or previews. Konami had a very heavy release schedule at the time, and that certainly wasn’t the case with their other titles. It didn’t get a lot of coverage or advertising even after release (although Marukatsu Famicom did a nice two part strategy spread) and disappeared from the scene rather quickly. So it seems that they were rather quiet during its development, and then just kind of dumped it out onto the market and left it to fend for itself. The other thing that’s a bit curious is in the game’s story. I believe the hero is supposed to be a young guy who returns home to his rural Indian-style village after a long journey, etc. But if that’s the case why is he portrayed as a western- looking Indy doppelganger? Is it possible that they had to change the game story late in development, but didn’t want to bother changing the artwork or sprites? So, nothing definitive, but interesting nonetheless.

        This kind of stuff is partly why I took the chance to contact you about the job you had up. I have the resources to provide content that may be of interest, and now have enough free time to really work on it, but I’ve still not quite found the right format to get it out there, other than these random sorts of blog or forum comments. Please let me know if you’re interested, when you have the time.

  3. GMR

    Loved the video. Too bad you didn’t make it to stage 5, the music there is a lost 8-bit classic.

  4. Kevin

    I remember vaguely making the Roc n Rope connection a while back (after playing the 2600 port), but completely forgot about it until this video. It’s pretty blatantly a spiritual successor!

  5. Super Boy Alan

    I still kinda like the “Good Nintentions” name – nothing wrong with a good “dad pun” in my book. Your call, though, I suppose.