When I look back at the company whose games I’ve enjoyed most in the entirety of my gaming experience, Konami is almost always at the top spot. Favorite RPG? Suikoden II. Favorite action series? Castlevania and Contra. Favorite game series as a whole? Ganbare Goemon. Favorite dating sim? OK, that’s enough of that…
The point I’m trying to make is that as a publisher and developer, Konami has been a dominating force in pretty much every classic gaming genre…that is, except for the fighting genre. For whatever reason, Konami has never really put much effort in creating a really great fighting game or franchise. Sure, there was TMNT Tournament Fighters, and Yie Ar Kung Fu was one of the first viable entries in the genre, but it seems the company never felt the need to create its own “Street Fighter-killer,” as nearly every major video game publisher did during the fighting game boom of the 90s.
There is one game Konami put out in the mid-90s, however, that could have really been a contender in the saturated fighting game market, which was Lightning Legend: Daigo no Daibouken, or Daigo’s Great Adventure, a game released exclusively for the PlayStation One in Japan. It featured a colorful cast of unique characters, a humorous and engaging storyline, beautiful polygonal graphics and art design, a superb soundtrack, and most important, a solid, well-designed fighting engine that rivaled even some of Capcom’s best of the era.
I went through a phase in the 90s where I hated fighting games…I think my frustrations with (then) modern 3D fighters like Tekken 2 and some awful titles on the N64 such as Mace: The Dark Age, really turned me off to the genre. But when I was in the 7th grade, I purchased a copy of GameFan Magazine with Turok 64 on the cover, and as soon as I opened it up, I found a write-up on two Japanese PS1 fighting games that looked amazing to me…one was Ranma 1/2: Battle Renaissance, and the other was the aforementioned Lightning Legend. In general, importing new games was really expensive in the late 90s, and a local import gaming store actually had both of the games for sale for $80 a piece. But as a jobless middle schooler, I couldn’t afford it, so my hopes of playing these games came and went. I never forgot about Lightning Legend, however, and when I moved to Japan, I was very happy to find the game at one of the many video game stores I frequented, and for a price that was much more manageable–500 yen, or about 5 U.S. dollars. It’s a purchase I am so glad I made, and was one of a handful of games that reignited my interest in the original PlayStation and helped me to appreciate the little gray box once again.
Well, with all that being said, I hope you enjoy episode 5 of Import Gaming FTW!–Lightning Legend: Daigo’s Great Adventure for the PS1, a true hidden gem for the system only released in Japan.