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Promotional Consideration: Small Waves

Promotional Consideration is a weekly feature about the Nintendo DS advertisements you usually flip past, change the channel on, or just tune out.

Instantly recognizable to any gamer worth their salt, Konami's bygone logo and its accompanying chime introduced more classic titles than we can count. When the familiar waves, slanted hourglasses, were retired in 2003, we felt their passing like the death of an old friend. We poured out liquor, fired 21 shots into the air from our Zappers, and bumped Master P's "I Miss My Homies" for days.

Though the logo is now gone, it will certainly never be forgotten ...


The good die young.

While Konami's history traces back to CEO Kagemasa Kozuki's founding of a jukebox rental and repair business in 1969, the company name wasn't established until 1973. Partners and founders -- Kagemasa Kozuki, Yoshinobu Nakama, Hiro Matsuda, and Shokichi Ishihara -- all lent letters from their surnames to form Konami Industry Co., Ltd. Translated from Japanese to English, Konami can mean "small waves."

Konami's first logo was finalized in 1981, just after the company started to release arcade games and right before it began putting out PC titles. There's not much remarkable about the blue, thick letters, but the curl at the end of the K always annoyed us with its somewhat resemblance to LJN's jumbo J. It's an association that no respectable video game company should ever suffer.

Only five years later, Konami debuted its double-swoosh logo as the company moved its headquarters from Toyonaka, Osaka to Kobe, Hyogo. The gray, sans-serif text underneath -- and sometimes to the right -- would remain in italics until 1998, when Konami straightened the letters to indicate itself as "a stable entity."

Classics like Castlevania, Contra, and Metal Gear were all released under this standard, so it's understandable how many came to associate it with high-quality titles and fondly remembered years. Some describe the logo as brimming with personality, and, though we can't explain why, we tend to agree. One gamer even went so far as to have the swiped figures permanently etched onto his arms:

In a move to broaden its corporate identity, Konami abandoned the two waves and all traces of orange for its 30th anniversary in 2003. Two new logos were officially introduced, one serving as corporate branding, the other marking its entertainment products, both designed under a theme that Konami described as "contemporary quality."

The new typeface remained in all-caps like its predecessor, but sported serifs that were meant to communicate "substance and reassurance, while at the same time expressing vibrancy." The cardinal red, or Konami Red, was meant to convey quality and class. More than anything, this rebranding symbolized the company's shift towards becoming a holding company.

As you can expect, the logo change received much criticism from fans of Konami's older titles. Some felt the new designs were remarkably less aesthetically pleasing, while others complained that they bore no resemblance to the markings from their youth. Our favorite grievance, the one that makes us look away to hide our watery eyes, comes from Select Button forumer Slonie: "The new Konami logo cannot jauntily walk onto the screen while a happy tune plays, like the old one can."


Konami Logo
1986 - 2003
"So we beat on, boats, against the current,
borne back ceaselessly into the past."

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