…Let’s begin! The Metal Gear series is a legendary game franchise that sadly met a fatal conclusion…well, not the series, but in terms of…Konami, we’re getting Metal Gear Survive…though we can always deny it. Now let me be personally clear, what Konami has done was absolutely horrible, from destroying their gaming division to treating employees like utter crap, including Hideo Kojima.
They now mostly do their business in Pachinko machines and mobile gaming, saying that they will be the best financial way of doing business…except for the fact that Pachinko machines are only popular in Japan and mobile gaming are for casuals who only like the simple games like KING’S UNDISPUTED PLOT TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD! But hey, Bomberman’s back, so we’ll forgive them for everything they’ve done…we sure are the abused wives and husbands in a relationship that will pretend everything is OK *cough*Zelda DLC*cough*. But the female counterpart of Bomberman will sure be the answer Feminist Frequency have always wanted…
But with that out of the way. The Metal Gear series, created by Hideo Kojima. Now he mostly grew up wanting to be an artist but was often discouraged. Later in life, he would watch movies, mostly of the action variety, and would play video games on the Famicom. Despite wanting to be a film director, he would eventually make the life-changing choice of joining the video game industry, much to the absolute worries of his friends, though his mother would support his choice. Nice one Mother Kojima! And rest in peace!
Kojima would eventually get hired by Konami and was sent to the MSX home computer division and got the job of a designer and a planner. He never liked the MSX due to the poor colour palette. He was the Assistant Director of Penguin Adventure, a sequel to Antarctic Adventure (by the way, would you be interested in me reviewing Penguin Adventure since I already reviewed Antarctic Adventure?). He developed a platformer Lost Warld, though this game was rejected by the bosses of Konami.
And then he was asked to take over a project that would be known as Metal Gear, developed and published by Konami and was released in 1987 in Japan and…Europe? Well I guess the UK doesn’t count so I assume some places in Europe…NO WAIT, it was released in English, just with a lot of mistranslations, misspellings and such.
So when Kojima and crew were working on the game, it was originally supposed to be a high-octane action game with tons of enemies and shooting all over the place, something akin to Contra. This wasn’t to be the case due to the new computer, the MSX 2’s hardware limitations. This inspired Kojima to completely change the gameplay that would be the genre of the series. Inspired by The Great Escape, the game would instead be a stealth game, where you have to avoid enemy attacks instead of just shooting enemies willy nilly.
Oh, let’s talk a bit about the art package of the first game, shown on top of the page. And yes, this is actor Michael Biehn playing as Kyle Reese from The Terminator, but in the art package, it’s supposed to be Solid Snake…and Konami didn’t get permission to use Biehn’s likeness. HAHA! You’d get sued if you pull that crap but because it was the 80’s, I guess anything went and cocaine was one hell of a drug after all.
It’s almost the end of the 20th Century, roughly around 1995; a weapon of mass destruction is being developed by a military state known as Outer Heaven, founded by a legendary mercenary, located in Galzburg, South Africa.
A Special Forces unit was founded behind closed doors that would involve themselves in certain conflicts and terrorist activities and try to stop them. This unit would be known as FOXHOUND. Gray Fox, an agent of FOXHOUND, was tasked with going into Outer Heaven, find out what’s going on and destroy the threat. Gray Fox goes into action but FOXHOUND loses communication with him a few days later with one final transmission being “METAL GEAR”.
Commander of FOXHOUND, Big Boss, sends his newest recruit, known as Solid Snake, to go to Outer Heaven and continue the job, rescue Grey Fox and find out what this Metal Gear is.
Giving the fact that the Metal Gear series is known for being a heavily plot-driven game, I’m kind of scared at how I’m going to talk about the plot of later games since…I wouldn’t know how to convey it without spoiling it. So I guess in future reviews, keep that in mind. In my years of critique, this will certainly be a challenge.
So I’m actually reviewing a stealth game for once…then again, Bonanza Bros. might be my first. You’re the ‘will be’ legend that is Solid Snake; you will travel across Outer Heaven, whilst avoiding visual contact with enemies. If you get caught, you’re in Alert Mode. However, there are two types: one exclamation mark shown by an enemy’s head and he and others on-screen (if there is more than one enemy in one part of the room), he/they will attack you. Two exclamation marks if you’re caught by a camera, infrared sensors or using an unsuppressed weapon, and tons of enemies will come out from nowhere and that is a tough time when escaping since the only way to escape from that is going outside when you can, defeat all enemies hunting you down in the area or go into an elevator.
It’s all about the stealth here, but since is a game from 1987, it’s not as perfect as it could be, and that means the game isn’t too hard when sleuthing about though it doesn’t mean it’s easy all the way. Enemies can only spot you for the most part when they face you. If they simply turn around, they won’t notice you, even if you’re near them.
During the game, some of your colleagues, especially Big Boss, will communicate with you via Transceiver and will provide information for you when available. Covert resistance members near Outer Heaven, consisting of Schneider, Diane, and Jennifer, will offer help too. Though you have to make sure that you record each of their frequencies since not all share the same ones, mostly write it on a piece of paper you young people.
So when it comes to equipment, you don’t start out with anything other than your Transceiver, but you do get stuff by going into rooms to defeating enemies sometimes. In terms of weapons, you get a Beretta 92F, an Ingram Mac-11, an M79 Grenade Launcher and an RPG-7V Rocket Launcher, though I mostly use the Beretta for enemies since you can get the Suppressor add-on later on in the game. You get some explosives like the Plastic Explosives, Landmines and RC Missiles (How do you control a missile, especially around tight corners? I don’t know, this isn’t reality). You’ll be able to collect ammo for your weapons when available, as well as Rations and to me, this is very important to fill back up your health. But hey, you get the Cardboard Box…it can be very useful in the toughest of situations.
You also get Key Cards that will unlock certain doors. Now I have an issue with this since you have to figure out which card goes with which door and you have to switch cards to figure out which one is correct, but then there’s the areas where you need to wear a Gas Mask, now going around those parts aren’t too bad, but it’s leaving those parts, since you have to replace your Gas Mask with a Key Card and as you open the door with it, you lose health because you’re slowly getting your health drained by the gas. Whilst this doesn’t always happen, it’s annoying when it does; it always feels like it’s never your fault…because it isn’t. Not to mention that you have to pause to pick Key Cards and this will make you throw your computer out the bloody window just out of sheer frustration alone.
Anyway, during the game, you’ll find hostages that you NEED to rescue. Every time you rescue five of them, your rank is increased in the form of stars; the more stars you have (up to four), the higher your health is increased and the more you’re able to carry more stuff. Just don’t kill a hostage or you’ll be demoted a star.
There will be different objectives you need to do based on story progression, like rescuing Dr. Pettrovich, the man who was the engineer of the Metal Gear, who we figure out that it’s a bipedal robotic tank, which is able to not only fight in all kinds of combat, but is able to launch nuclear weapons anywhere, the true creation of chaos and destruction. There’s also a twist near the end, even given to you in clues but I won’t spoil it.
The gameplay can be a bit of a challenge, though as long as you know how the gameplay works, you’ll do OK. It’s a simple stealth game; you need your brains to figure out where to go and how to deal with whatever you see. Collect items like ammo and rations to help you on your way, which can be found in rooms…though if you want more, you can simply leave the room and come back and they will respawn…OH YES! I know this might not have been how it’s supposed to be but I won’t judge.
There are some annoying moments, especially the Key Cards. Also, the game doesn’t tell you that rescuing hostages is highly essential if you even want to finish the game, like needing a four-star rank to talk to Jennifer who will help you progress through the rest of the game. Again, if you shoot down hostages, your rank is dropped, but they don’t respawn. In other words, YOU WILL NOT WIN!!! Thankfully though, you’d need to be accident-prone to do that but be very careful anyway.
To play this game, you may need a guide and a map to figure out some of the game’s progression, like needing to bomb a wall to progress or calling a certain someone to progress or punching a door to progress at that one point or those PIT FALLS, so that’s where some of it’s difficulty may come from.
The graphics are pretty good for the MSX2, because if you saw the graphics for the original MSX, you’d be laughing your head off. The level design does give off the feel of sneaking into deadly territory, a true one-man army it seems. The music is minimal and basic, but it can be repetitive so watch out.
Overall, Metal Gear is a decent enough start to the series. Whilst it may not be the first Stealth game, it’s the one that popularised it, especially in Japan. As for the west…well, that’s where the NES comes into place. And yes, I’ll take a quick look at the game.
This version was developed and published by Konami and published by Ultra Games for the US. It was released in 1987 in Japan, 1988 in the US and 1989 in Europe. Yep, this was the US’ introduction to the Metal Gear series despite many people assuming that Metal Gear Solid was the first in the series.
This game had many changes to the original MSX2 port, in fact, they had to be changed by orders of the bosses of Konami, and were given a three-month deadline to complete the port…and the effort shows.
The level design has changed quite a bit, enemies don’t drop items so you’ll have to go to a room for once to pick up some. There are five buildings instead of three so there’s probably more to do. But these changes are mostly for the worst. It’s clunky, the stealth gameplay doesn’t work properly, item checking is a pain and when continuing the game, it’s pretty far away. The game overall is not as fun as the original MSX2 original, despite that game not being fun. I’m not saying the MSX2 original is bad, far from it, but it’s a brainteaser at times and unless you have a guide and maps to areas, you got to play it differently than usual.
So I recommend the MSX2 if you really want to know how it all started, but avoid the NES port, it ain’t worth it.
But how can I play it? You may say. I don’t have an MSX2? I hear you cry. Thankfully, the MSX2 original was eventually re-released internationally for the PlayStation 2 via Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita.
Next week, it’s Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake…and a bit of the NES sequel too.
You can get it on the MSX2, Famicom/NES, MS-DOS, Commodore 64, Mobile Phone, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Wii Virtual Console, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita.