Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions (PSX, 1999, Konami)
Last week we finished up our look at Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation, which spiraled out of control in three parts all trying so desperately to sound intelligent, clever, and well versed in symbolism but ultimately just being a bunch of hot air. Now, the smoke has cleared, and so has the facade of a real game! Tally-ho to more Metal Gear action without all of those stupid cut-scenes with the people talking about the things and how guns are bad!
Following the release of the original Metal Gear Solid the Japanese were treated to Metal Gear Solid: Integral, which was an expanded release of the title that featured 300+ VR Missions, the ability to play as the Cyborg Ninja (which fans had clamored for), and several other extras such as Tokyo Game Show videos and commercials all bundled in with the main game. The extras from this version were released as a separate disk in Europe (Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions) where you needed the original game in order for the Playstation to allow you to access the content and as a completely separate game in the United States where it was released as Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions.
The game was a response to a large group of players’ complaints that even though the original title spanned two disks and was a full featured game it still lacked the action that they had expected or wanted. So, Hideo Kojima responded by having many more VR Missions made, to accompany the original batch that were released as training with the main game, and the other aforementioned features. But, as always, the extra features came with their own quirks and bizarre nature, which I completely commend Kojima for. If there is one thing that we’ll be talking about in later articles it is that Hideo Kojima absolutely knows how to slip in his own personality, comedy, and responses into titles that he doesn’t necessarily want to make. The man knows how to be both a god and a traitor.
VR Missions plays just like Metal Gear Solid, except the whole affair is broken into little bite-sized trials and puzzles that have their own objectives. Honestly, a game like this would’ve done very well on a handheld of this generation. Regardless, this is pure mechanics over narrative, who-needs-context, MURDER EVERYTHING YOU SEE! or hide until you can reach the goal cotton-candy, all fluff with no sustenance. The player gets to slash-slash-jump-kick as Frank Jaeger, a.k.a. DA N1NJA, take oddly staged pseudo-erotica photos of Naomi and Mei Ling, and even fight Godzilla-sized soldiers, which I totally infer as Kojima telling us what sort of things we must want if this type of point-less skilled based romp through a world he so fondly created is what we want. I mean, whenever you spend so much time crafting a narrative and a plot for the player to progress through with a hard-coded message for your audience and they respond with “give us more of the pew-pew-kablohy” I imagine that it’s easy to be a bit hurt and upset with your fan-base. I’m going to let myself finish, but this is all stuff that we’ll tackle in my mind-breaking discussion on Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty which will consist of terribly borrowed fan-theories, interview snippets, and as many links as I can think of. But that won’t come for a bit. I mean… we still have Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel for the Gameboy Color to talk about. Obvious choice.
Quick Aside: My favorite thing about VR Missions is the use of a reworked version of the music from the original MSX2 releases as the level music.