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Solid Snake, Bill Rizer and Simon Belmont: the Big Konami Three

Konami has been one of the biggest developers and publishers of video games for over two decades. Over the years they have provided us with many memorable gaming experiences and, most importantly, characters.

To many this vast of array of digital personalities have become heroes, icons of gaming who defined their childhood and who they have carried in their hearts right to this day. But now a sad day has arrived with Konami announcing that they are leaving the world of video games and going full mobile.

Although this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of these characters, we probably won’t ever see them in their former glory and probably not see another icon join their ranks.

So we here at Gearburn want to pay our respect to three legendary individuals that help put Konami on the map, they who have accompanied us on many epic adventures and kept us company into the early hours of the morning. May your legacy live on forever…

Solid Snake (Metal Gear series)

The Metal Gear series, the brain child of genius developer Hideo Kojima, is undoubtedly the greatest gaming franchise to emerge from the Konami enterprise. And leading it into the gaming hall of fame is the legendary FOXHOUND operative, Solid Snake.

Solid Snake first appeared in the original Metal Gear back in 1987. He was the newest rookie recruit of the FOXHOUND special forces team, an elite US Black Ops team that specialised in stealthy dealings with “local revolutions, regional complications, and global terrorist activities in ‘unauthorized” combat zones too politically sensitive to intervene through conventional mean.”

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Early versions of Solid Snake were loosely based on movie actions stars like Snake Plissken (Kurt Russel) from Escape from New York. It wasn’t until 1998, with the release of Metal Gear Solid (the first in the series to make use of 3D graphics), that Solid Snake took on his own appearance thanks to Japanese illustrator, Yoji Shinkawa.

The 1998 title was also the first one to employ voice acting. The same actors have been voicing Solid Snake since then (Akio Otsuka voicing the Japanese version and David Hayter the American). The only exception is Kiefer Sutherland who will be voicing Solid Snake in the latest and final instalment of the franchise, The Phantom Pain.

The Metal Gear series is one of, it not the greatest gaming sagas to exist and at its helm sits Solid Snake, the hero of the franchise. This icon and his legacy will be remembered for many years to come.

Read More: From Liquid to Solid: a Metal Gear Retrospective

Bill Rizer (Contra)

Those of you who have been gaming for a long time will surely know of the once prolific action platformer, Contra. To this day it is one of the most hardcore and gruelling challenges I’ve faced in my gaming years. The hero of this unforgiving run and gun title is the all round somersaulting bad ass, Bill Rizer.

Bill used to be a high ranking war hero in the Commonwealth Army. That was until he saw his Imperial comrades execute a group of innocents. Naturally he picked up his gun and, without breaking a sweat, brought the Commonwealth crippling to its knees. Don’t mess with Bill.

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Soon after the Red Falcon appeared, a sadistic group of highly intelligent aliens bent on world domination. Bill didn’t like this so he decided to start his own little group, the Contra Force, and did what he did best, killed every single one of the unwelcome bastards. Don’t mess with Bill.

Bill Rizer first appeared in 1987 with the release of the original Contra. His likeness was a mash-up of several action movie starts. His appearance was based on Arnold Schwarzenegger and his name was a combination of Bill (Bill Paxton) and Rizer (Paul Reiser), both of whom played in the movie Aliens.

Bill’s last true appearance was in the Playstation exclusive, Contra: Shattered Soldier (2002), although a clone version of him did appear in Neo Contra (2004).

In 2010 Nintendo Power magazine (which was one of the longest running gaming magazines in the US) named Bill their 17th favourite hero in gaming because of his aptitude for saving the world. Here’s to you Bill, one of the first gaming action heroes to bless our existence.

Read More: Challenge accepted: 5 of the most difficult games you’ll ever play

Simon Belmont (Castlevania)

The story of Castlevania chronicles the lives of the Belmonts, a family of vampire hunters who are locked in an ever-raging battle with Count Dracula. The first protagonist, and what many people know as the original hero of Castlevania, is Simon Belmont.

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Simon Belmont was born in the year 1669 as the heir to the Belmont Clan and the legendary “Vampire Killer”, a magical Belmont whip they used to slay any and all bloodsuckers. Simon’s youth was filled with stories of Vampire hunts and the heroic deeds of his ancestors. Simon wished nothing more than to walk in their great footsteps.

It was at the age of 22 he would finally get the chance to prove himself worthy of his family’s legacy, after a dark human order resurrects Count Dracula. Simon bravely enters the castle of the dark vampire lord on his own, facing his legions of evil and eventually Dracula himself. He fails to defeat Dracula but his deeds cements him as one of the “most renowned of vampire hunters” and he spends the next few Castlevania titles dealing with his unfinished business.

Simon Belmont first appeared in the original Castlevania in 1986 and since then has gone on to appear in 17 other gaming titles. He has also undergone several major appearance changes in almost every game, going from a burly bad-ass to a stately knight to a rather feminine looking metro man.

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The Simon I’d like to commemorate is the original death stare barbarian of 1986, who turned Castlevania into one of Konami most revered franchises.

Author Bio

Wiehahn Diederichs: Columnist
Capetonian freelance writer and photographer. Wiehahn is a lover of stories in all their forms, and has been an avid gamer since he took his first breath. If he is not working or gaming, he either pours his creative energy into his passion for music or plays foosball in some... More
  • It’s a sad time for games, especially those who grew up with Konami.

    I’d also like to add Silent Hill to the list. While it isn’t a character per say, it is the nexus for the series. The town tends to take on a life of its own, besides “mimicking” those it ensnares.

    Silent Hill was first released in 1999. While most games in the Survival Horror genre focussed on action, Konami opted for a psychological approach with the game. From there the second game vastly improved upon the first in graphics, characters, story, and music. Oh that music(!).

    Much like the town itself, Silent Hill has begun to deteriorate with every incarnation. The first two are magnificent, but it goes downhill from there.

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to take Silent Hill seriously if it moves to the small screen. R.I.P you magnificent bastard.

  • Thanks for your contribution, Graham!

    Yeah I never got to spend much time with the Silent Hill series but I remember watching a buddy of mine play Silent Hill 4 and it looked well creepy.

    Was really excited to see Silent Hills especially because Guillermo Del Toro was collaborating on the project. But alas, that will have to remain a dream.

    Truly sad that such a great company would decide to leave their legacy behind. But such is life, I’m sure the future will bring many positive surprises in the gaming world

    Haha yes, to be honest there aren’t many games I would take seriously on a small screen.

  • Thanks for your contribution, Graham!

    Yeah, I never got to spend much time with the Silent Hill series but I remember watching a buddy of mine play Silent Hill 4 and it looked well creepy.

    Was really excited to see Silent Hills especially because Guillermo Del Toro was collaborating on the project. But alas, that will have to remain a dream.

    Truly sad that such a great company would decide to leave their legacy behind. But such is life, I’m sure the future will bring many positive surprises in the gaming world

    Haha yes, to be honest there aren’t many games I would take seriously on a small screen.

  • In the words of many a cat meme: I haz a sad.