(I usually highlight important words, but this is too long and it would be tiring…sorry!)
It’s time to talk about Blade Runner…and how I haven’t seen it to this day. I plan to, just need to find a DVD or Blu-Ray or catch it on TV or something like that. But I do know of its futuristic world and the flashing buildings and the tall cities and flying cars, neon adverts that help give the city a mixed contrast of dark lit up with many different colours. It may just be a movie to some and considered a great one at that but it was a massive influence. Heck, from then on, any movie or game or any other kind of media set in the future would have a city based on Blade Runner. And Japan’s media was flooded with Blade Runner-inspired stuff, most particularly the manga and acclaimed anime Akira. So it seems that Konami were planning a Blade Runner-style game of their own, and with Hideo Kojima directing it, a man who wanted to be a film director at one point, you’d bet your Neo Kobe Pizza it’s going to be a classic.
Snatcher (スナッチャー, Sunacchā), developed and published by Konami and was first released in Japan in November of 1988 for the NEC PC-8801 and in December of 1988 for the MSX2. It was later released in 1992 for the PC-Engine Super CD-ROM². The game didn’t come out in the west until 1994 for the Sega CD in the US and Europe. I was going to play the English translated MSX2 version, but I couldn’t find a proper ROM for it so I’m going to stick with the Sega CD port…on an emulator.
I know what you’re thinking, “Emulation? Why? Can’t you just buy a copy so you can play it legally?”. And I answer with this, “DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THIS GAME IS?”, prices can go up to £300, there’s even a sealed copy for over £800. I wanted to play the MSX2 port due to the lack of censorship, but it seems the Sega CD will do, thankfully though, the censorship isn’t too bad compared to the PS1 and Saturn releases…that were also released exclusively in Japan.
Because this is a plot-heavy game and this isn’t a game to an extent so you’re mostly going to go through the story, I’m going to spoil this plot rotten, and I’m doing this because the gameplay is very minimal and the story is important. SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HAVE THE PLOT SPOILED, THEN LEAVE OR GO TO PART TWO OF THE SNATCHER REVIEW, WHERE YOU’LL GET A MESSAGE STATING “THE REMAINDER OF THE REVIEW WILL NOW BE SPOILER-FREE”
In terms of the Sega CD port, we get a prologue. It’s June 6th 1991 (or 1996 in the English version), a bunch of scientists in Chernoton, Russia, were developing a biological weapon known as Lucifer-Alpha. However, the weapon was released into the atmosphere, killing 80% of the Eurasian population. This also results in killing half of the entire world’s population. It takes a decade until the weapon is no longer lethal.
51 years pass, in 2042 (2047 in the English version), artificial life-forms, known as Snatchers, suddenly appear in Neo Kobe City, an artificial island in Japan. These robotic fiends kill their victims and becoming their victims and live normally in society. Their origins are unknown, which scares the world, unsurprisingly. To combat this, the Anti-Snatcher task force was formed. We cut to present, where an amnesiac named Gillian Seed, has a job as a Junker, destroying Snatchers and figure out who the Snatchers are and where they come from.
There are three acts in this game, though if you’re playing the NEC PC-8801 or MSX2 version, there is no Act 3 due to development schedule time, but it was released for future ports.
Gillian Seed arrives at the Junker Agency HQ where he meets up with receptionist Mika Slayton and the head honcho of the place, Chief Benson Cunningham. You then meet the engineer, Harry Benson, who gives you a navigator robot, the Metal Gear Mk. II. Yeah, apparently this game is set in the Metal Gear series, only this game is set in the future. The Metal Gear becomes Seed’s partner-in-crime as they need to find another Junker, Jean-Jack Gibson, after getting an emergency call from him. It turns out Gibson found two Snatchers in an abandoned factory so Seed and Metal Gear head up there using their Spinner…I mean Turbocycle to get there. Once they arrive, they find Gibson’s navigator, Little John, destroyed but by who? Metal Gear takes the navigator’s memory stick for evidence and it’s a good thing Little John wasn’t completely demolished or the Snatchers knew anything about memory sticks. Anyway, Seed and Metal Gear find Gibson and…
HOLY S***! I mean, WOW! The Snatchers…twisted Gibson’s head off and you see his remains in all its gory glory. How this wasn’t heavily censored, I will never know, but I won’t complain. Anyway, you search for and collect evidence but after that, Metal Gear detects two figures in the factory, but they vanish. But not before getting attacked by Insectors, which Seed manages to take down. But the Snatchers planted a bomb in Little John but Seed and Metal Gear manage to escape from the explosion.
Seed arrives back at the Junkers Agency HQ and everyone is mourning for the loss of Gibson. Seed meanwhile goes to the Detective’s Room to find Gibson’s stuff to get some clues on what he knew about the Snatchers. Seed even contacts Gibson’s former informer and Chinese stereotype, Napoleon. Seed goes to Gibson’s house where he meets Katrina, Gibson’s daughter, who isn’t really surprised that her father died, being a Junker and all. In one of the rooms, there is a computer, a PC68, and since Seed collected a 5″ floppy disk, he uses the disk on the computer and Seed finally gets some information on the Snatchers. Apparently Snatchers use sunscreen…in the winter. The reason for this is because ultraviolet rays are cancerous to their skin. There’s also information about Snow-9, bio-pollen that will let you know that a Snatcher is present.
During the investigation on Gibson, his last meal was Whale Meat (Buffalo Meat in the English version), despite having an ulcer. But apparently, Whale Meat is considered illegal to sell apart from one place, which you find out by Napoleon, a night-club called Outer Heaven; and it happens to be masquerade night. Again, another Metal Gear reference, it seems that everything that happened in the past doesn’t matter anymore, or Kojima loves references. So Seed buys a mask and heads on in. We see a bunch of Konami characters watching a sexy woman dancing…as in Simon Belmont and Dracula, Rocket Knight, Bill and Lance from the Contra series, etc. You call for the sexy woman, named Isabella and ask her information and gets details on the man whom Gibson was following.
Back at headquarters, Seed goes into the computer room where they send the details to their computer, known as JORDAN. The details given result in two leads, Ivan Rodriguez and Freddy Nielsen, so Seed heads out and see which one is the Snatcher. Ivan is an air surfer, but also a drug user. Nevertheless, based on the evidence, he’s not a Snatcher. When it comes to Freddy, he’s not home, but his wife is, Lisa. Seed and Metal Gear find some evidence, and they manage to find sunscreen, to which we find out that not only Freddy is a Snatcher, but Lisa is too. Seed manages to take down Lisa, but Freddy already manages to subdue Seed. That is until Freddy gets shot down by a bounty hunter named Random Hajile, who also kills Snatchers for a living, and a licensed one for that matter. They both agree that they will help each other from then on.
So apparently, Random Hajile wasn’t a licensed bounty hunter after all, but it’s not too important, as we finally get some more information from Little John’s memory stick. It shows a picture of a hospital with the name ‘Oleen’. With the help of Napoleon again, Seed finds an Oleen Hospital…only for it to be a veterinary hospital, so it’s not the Hospital they’re looking for.
Suddenly, Mika informs Seed that Gibson’s house was ransacked and Katrina has gone missing, as well as seeing her dog, Alice…dead…with her guts out…twitching…oh wait, she doesn’t twitch in the Sega CD version. Seed looks everywhere for Katrina, but manages to find her…in Seed’s apartment, naked in the showers, censored in some releases and especially in the Sega CD version due to Katrina being 14 in all releases except for the Sega CD version, who is now 18 in that release. Anyway, Katrina managed to escape the house knowing she was in danger, but also managed to give Seed a clue, a whole list of illegal hospitals, but unfortunately, ‘Oleen’ isn’t on the list. But why? But clues found or seen previously, especially Gibson’s Chess piece, gives you the answer of ‘Queens’, it shows ‘Oleen’ because the lights didn’t work properly.
So Seed goes to Queens Hospital, abandoned for several years but has to be investigated. Seed finds a dark room and observe it, with the help of a torch from Metal Gear. Seed manages to find a medical record that’s in Chinese, but there are symbols that not even Metal Gear knows of. So of course, they go and see Napoleon, who’s an employee at Outer Heaven. Napoleon tells Seed that the Chinese symbols are actually from the periodic table in Chinese. The symbols show beryllium, nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen, this forms the name “Be-N-S-O-N”. Benson! There are now two leads, and both within the Junker Agency, Chief Benson Cunningham and Harry Benson.
Seed and Metal Gear goes back to the Junkers Agency HQ and…they’re both not around. But Jamie, Seed’s wife, informs Gillian Seed that the Queens Hospital has a secret basement. With that information in mind, Seed decides to go back to the Hospital. Until he finds out that the Turbocycle has been meddled with, the brakes don’t work and you go way too fast, and it can’t stop. After failing to find a way to stop the Turbocycle, it looks like it’s the end of Seed and Metal Gear. Until Random Hajile arrives on his bike to save them both.
Seed, Metal Gear and Random arrive at the Hospital and find the basement, a replica of the top floor hospital. They find the doors, and check them out, with a Snatcher to kill in door 1. In door 3, they find a morgue and find human skeletons, including one that’s currently decomposing…and its f****** disgusting. Metal Gear analyses the skeletons to find out that the victims are Freddy and Lisa Nielsen, Doctor Chin Shu Oh and finally, Chief Benson Cunningham. Yep, the Chief is dead and is now a Snatcher. The guys then get attacked by Doctor Chin Shu Oh and some more Snatchers, who explain that they want to take over the world. Thankfully, Seed and Metal Gear manage to escape. Unfortunately, at the cost of the life of Random who blows up the Hospital.
Seed and Metal Gear travel through the air duct, but not before shooting down more Insectors. They manage to walk on an abandoned subway. Seed finds a ladder which ends up leading him to Freddy’s apartment. Seed realises that the Snatchers use the subway as a way of travelling to avoid the sun. The Freddy and Lisa Snatcher also used this system to escape the factory after the brutal murder they did to Gibson. Seed realises that Mika and Harry back at HQ are in trouble since Benson will be there. So they decide to take a taxi to ride back there. Until Seed realises that Doctor Chin Shu Oh is the driver and tries to attack them, but Seed guns him down once and for all.
Back at HQ, they find Mika hidden in her booth after being attacked by the Benson Snatcher and Harry put her in the booth and locked her in to protect her; nevertheless, she’s fine. Seed eventually finds Harry, but are too late as he dies in Seed’s arms. Seed and Metal Gear find Mika being taken hostage by the Benson Snatcher. Seed eventually guns it down, but not before telling Seed that the Snatchers are getting ready for Phase Two of their plans. Jamie then calls Seed and explains that she’s being held in Kremlin by Snatchers. This ends Part 2.
Now if you played this game on the PC-8801 and the MSX2, the game would end on that point. But later releases have Act 3, and the Sega CD has that act too. Soooooooooooo….
So Seed, Mika and Metal Gear all do a plot summary on what they’ve learned about the Snatchers. So it seems that the Snatchers’ origins are in Moscow, Russia, also SNOW-9 is involved and explain what it is. They manage to find a lead in which there is a church similar to the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Russia…which happens to be in Neo Kobe City. Seed tasks Mika with attending the Kyoto Summit, the place where the Chief was originally supposed to attend to talk about the Snatchers, add to the fact that the Benson Snatcher was going to attack the world leaders. In the church, they find exactly what you would find: church seats and a picture of a man the Snatchers were worshiping, who also looks like Random Hajile. Seed finds some Snatchers in development, with the Metal Gear explaining how they’re created. They find out that the Summit is planning to blow up Neo Kobe City to get rid of the remaining Snatchers, but Metal decides to leave to give the Seed more time to sort it out, so Seed’s on his own.
After gunning down more Insectors and Snatchers, you find your wife, Jamie, who was doing some work for an old man who has recently passed away. But suddenly, they’re confronted by the son of the old man, Elijah Modnar. And in a highly lengthy finale and a massive plot dump but at least ties up loose ends. To summarise, during the Cold War, Petrovich and his son Elijah. Elijah worked with Jamie and instantly fell in love with her and when it comes to a woman you like, you’re going to work your socks off, just like Elijah. That was until she meet Gillian Seed, who was actually a CIA agent. They got married and made a child, much to the dismay of Elijah. And what’s worse for him, the project he worked hard on was disbanded.
So because of a broken heart, the prologue with the events relating to Lucifer-Alpha was all caused by Elijah. He then protects Gillian and Jamie and their son by freezing them in cryogenic sleep and Elijah does the same. Meanwhile, the son of Gillian and Jamie is eventually adopted by Petrovich and the boy is revealed to be Harry Benson, Gillian’s son and the guy who made the Metal Gear navigator for him, and died in his arms, not realising that his one and only son, was the one who died in his arms, making Harry’s death quite sadder. 10 years past and Elijah wakes up, he planned on waking up Jamie and leaving Gillian to be frozen forever. But then he felt bad for what he did and, knowing that Jamie would never work for him, decide to freeze them both permanently while he worked on the Snatchers.
Gillian and Jamie Seed were eventually rescued by the US Army but they have no recollection of who they are. Elijah also got the body of Random Hajile, who despite being a robot, isn’t exactly a Snatcher, but was created by Elijah’s father, Petrovich and is based on Elijah, meaning that Random Hajile is actually Elijah Modnar backwards. But Elijah has some use for Random as his skin is just what he needs for the Snatchers so he can continue on Phase Two. Then Elijah can finally take over the world with his Snatcher army.
That is until Random wakes up and grabs Elijah, Metal Gear returns but now wrapped in bombs, it’s ready to blow the place up, along with the help of an orbital weapon. So Gillian and Jamie Seed manage to escape whilst Random, Elijah, Metal Gear and the remainder of the Snatchers get destroyed in the blast, preventing the Snatcher invasion.
The game ends with Gillian leaving for Russia to figure out his own past, only then will he continue his relationship with Jamie. Mina and Katrina greet Gillian and even Metal Gear survived, now in a temporary body depending on which console you’re playing the game on, so in terms of the Sega CD, his body is literally a Sega Mega Drive with the Sega CD add-on.
We then get an epilogue in the form of a quote, “Throughout history, suspicion has always bred conflict. The real conflict, though, resides in people’s hearts. This conflict has just begun…”
So what does this mean? Well you can interpret that yourself.
Link to Part 2 is above, it should already be highlighted!
Proper review in Part 2