In March, Netflix announced that Castlevania has been renewed for a fourth season, proving that a series inspired by a video game franchise can be successful. The animated series premiered on the streaming platform in 2017, taking inspiration from the Konami gaming franchise that debuted some three decades earlier.
Film and television adaptations of video games can be a tricky task; look no further than the challenges that Paramount Pictures faced when trying to introduce Sega’s universally adored gaming hero Sonic the Hedgehog to the big screen. Given that Castlevania is a rarity in terms of effective television interpretations of video games, should Netflix return to Konami in the hunt for similar successes?
A diverse game developer
Konami has such a varied portfolio of games that it’s inevitable not all will be perfect for Netflix. Konami’s football simulation series Pro Evolution Soccer is one of the studio’s biggest international hits, but the style of its gameplay means it’s not crying out for a TV adaptation. Likewise, the gameplay of dating sim Tokimeki Memorial isn’t ready-made for a drama series – live sport and reality television scratches our itch when it comes to these two genres.
Castlevania has thrived on introducing us to a rich universe of complex characters, but many other Konami gaming works are successful because of their simplicity. This is true of Konami’s China Shores online slot machine, with the five-reel slot introducing us to a loveable panda protagonist without getting unnecessarily bogged down by world-building. The scrolling shooter arcade game Life Force feels the same as China Shores; all the action and detail you need is already contained in the game.
Netflix will be hunting for a gaming series where it seems like there is more going on outside the confines of the in-game universe. With that in mind, here are three Konami franchises that could follow in Castlevania’s footsteps.
Konami’s famed horror series received the film treatment in 2006’s Silent Hill and 2012’s sequel Silent Hill: Revelation. Neither garnered critical acclaim to match the reviews of Konami’s gaming franchise, despite their glittering casts. Sean Bean starred in both films, while the sequel added Kit Harington and Carrie-Anne Moss.
However, the films drew criticism for their plotting, an element of the Konami games that was generally praised. 2001’s Silent Hill 2 is considered one of the best horror games of all time, with its compelling storyline and plentiful cultural references contributing to its appeal. If Silent Hill was taken to TV, then it might be easier to do the plot justice in the longer format.
We’ve already been treated to Anime Ganbare Goemon, an anime series based on Konami’s beloved character. However, the anime only ran for 23 episodes between 1997 and 1998, so there’s definitely more time that we could spend getting to know Goemon outside of a gaming context.
As a thief with a clear set of morals, Goemon would provide an engaging lead character in a new animated series. Blending cartoonish elements with a detailed recreation of Feudal Japan, a Goemon series would have opportunities to balance humor with meaningful stories grounded in real history.
It is surprising that we’re still waiting on a Metal Gear TV series, although there have been attempts to take Konami’s franchise to the big screen. Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson have been linked to Metal Gear projects, while The Dark Knight star Christian Bale was once rumored to be in line to play Solid Snake.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts shared concept art for a proposed Metal Gear film, but there’s still no indication that it’s something we’ll see anytime soon. Anyway, we want to spend more than just a couple of hours getting to know Snake. Snake is one of the greatest gaming protagonists, while Metal Gear‘s stealth-based action, fourth wall humor, and intelligent themes are surely well-suited to television.
Castlevania has shown Netflix and other streaming platforms that video games can be the basis for successful series. Konami has a sterling track record of producing video games with gripping stories and likable lead characters, so it would make sense if Netflix returned to the legendary Japanese studio for the next Castlevania-style hit.