Editorial, Feature, Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Mondays: MGS V is Kojima’s Masterpiece?

Metal Gear Monday is a series that I’m reviving from the old coffers of Geek Time passed, where I pick something about the Metal Gear series of games and either draft an article, record some audio, do a video, or generally just analyze on a Monday. It helps get the week started off nicely for me, and hopefully it will contain some tidbits about the franchise that you enjoy reading. And, just as an FYI — THIS SERIES IS FAIR GAME FOR SPOILER TERRITORY. 

Like all of my content for Geek Time, I really like to hear back from readers and fans, so if you want to dive into the conversation, point out any errors that I’ve made, or want to present your interpretation on a topic, we’d love to hear from you! Be sure to let us know what you think via Facebook, Twitter, or via email, and if you want to contact me directly feel free to do so via Twitter, or send me an email as well.

This week I’m talking about how Hideo Kojima may’ve finally made THE Metal Gear game. The mechanics and technology may’ve finally caught up to Kojima’s original vision over two decades in the making.

Feature, Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance | Metal Gear Mondays

With Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance coming out in less than 24 hours, let’s finish our overview of Metal Gear Solid 2 by looking at the “Director’s Cut” version: Substance.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
Xbox, PS2, PC | PS3, Vita, 360 [HD Edition]
November 5, 2002 

Substance is a re-released version of Metal Gear Solid 2 that originally saw the light of day on the original Xbox a year after the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PS2. Carrying on the tradition of Metal Gear Solid: Integral, Substance adds 300+ VR Missions, the ability to play as Solid Snake during the portions of the game where you originally could not, a fun Casting Theater feature where you can change out the characters in each of the game’s cutscenes, and a few other extras.

The PS2 version of Substance saw a delay, and as compensation for such a delay, it was released with free copies of The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 for a limited time. The PS2 version of Substance in Japan replaced the original Japanese v.o. with the English dubs.

Some Metal Gear fans see the release of Substance, especially due to its subtitle, as commentary from Kojima on how gamers perceived the original release. Metal Gear Solid 2 definitely received a fair amount of criticisms from journalists and fans for its hard to follow narrative and lack of any actual “substance”, so it is quite common among some Metal Gear social circles to believe that the subtitle was a direct response to these criticisms. This is made somewhat more believable at the ludicrous amount of content made available in the title’s PS2 iteration (i.e. the skateboard mode based on a system from Konami’s own failed skateboarding game: Evolution Skateboarding). There’s an interesting article that argues about why the “Director’s Cut” was more or less a push from Konami and fans for Kojima to stop messing around and put out more MGS related content available at MetaGearSolid.org entitled “Substance Abuse” that I’m a huge fan of, so please, check it out.

Another common belief is that Substance first came out for the Xbox as a way for Konami to try and pull more of the “hardcore” gamers into the Metal Gear series and that the release was chock full of content as a way to appease these “hardcore” gamers who needed tons of content to dominate, especially content with leaderboards and such.

It’s just interesting to think of how much of a pacifist Kojima is and how anti-war Metal Gear normally is when looking at Substance, which literally makes a game out of killing, more so than the core game. In a way, it’s this gun fetishism and obsession with competitive blood sport and the coveted “number 1” spot that fuels some of Kojima’s creative decisions going into Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

I fall into the former camp of Metal Gear fans, sincerely thinking that this version of MGS2 is more of a disservice to the original narrative, but one that a lot of people wanted. It’s really nice having a massive amount of MGS2 content to play with, espeically since it is my favorite Metal Gear title, but it feels bitter sweet playing this edition knowing that a majority of the content wasn’t originally intended to exist. But, guilt aside, I enjoy Substance for what it is, but I definitely consider the narrative as a standalone experience, which finds itself soiled and mostly ruined by the inclusion of the “Snake Tales”.

Everyone have a happy Metal Gear Rising day tomorrow! Catch you next week for my review of Rising, or my first article looking at MGS3, depending on how much of Rising I can finish in a week.


Feature, Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid 2 Pt. 3 | Metal Gear Mondays

… Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realized Solid Snake Wasn’t Real.

Time to get into the real meat of these opinion pieces, the intricate system of themes, motifs, metaphors, false flags, symbolism, post-modernism, and possibilities of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was written and produced on the coat-tails of one of the greatest games ever made, and this is made all the more intentional and evident when looking at Hideo Kojima’s design document and realizing that this meta-sequel was supposed to raise a lot of important questions about the previous entry, video games in general, the culture that Metal Gear created in its wake when coming into the current-gen, and the repercussions of our new information based society. On the surface, Metal Gear Solid 2 is about Solid Snake’s passing on of his ideals to another generation, Raiden coming into his own and choosing to follow a path of his own making (regardless of whether his past is fabricated or not), and the importance of message and culture, artificial or not. Here’s the key, all of those names in my previous sentence could be replaced with “Hideo Kojima” and “us” coming into “our” own, and I think that it was all done intentionally.

The game opens, immediately following the “Tanker” situation that I’ve already covered in my demo focused article, with Raiden (or Jack) entering into a “Plant” that was artificially created, allegedly, to mask some illegal activities and shadow government conspiracies surrounding the tanker that capsized during Solid Snake’s portion of the game. Raiden’s mission intentionally begins the same as Solid Snake’s PS1-era mission and Raiden even has codename Solid Snake for a short period of time, but then the first twist occurs. Hideo Kojima has the player input their own information into a terminal, for the first time in a Metal Gear game to date, and surprisingly so the terminal menu bears a strong resemblance to Metal Gear Solid 2‘s own main menu. One could argue that the menu was skinned this way as to keep consistency with the look and feel of the title as a whole, but I think the same evidence could be used to argue that Raiden is inputting our information to further solidify (pun intended) his role as the player or player’s avatar and that the menu shares the same graphical design as the game’s main menu because it hammers home the fact that we’re playing a simulation in a simulation, a game within a game.

Moving on from there, Raiden (with us towing the line behind him, both physically and metaphorically) is re-introduced to Col. Campbell, Solid Snake, and a lot of stand-ins for the same roles we saw in the previous title. A lot of Metal Gear Solid 2 is our re-introduction to a lot of the same motifs, both in a way to point at the structuralism of Japanese games (see Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, etc.) and to really draw our focus to why these events are seemingly recurring. For the same reason that handicam-style shooting is used in films to draw attention to the movement, I think that the game resembles Metal Gear Solid in its plot and pacing to draw attention to the fact that it bears resemblence to Metal Gear Solid. Kojima is criticizing himself, by having less fleshed out bosses that are more driven by singular reasons and emotions in order to lampoon the previous bosses, stripping the variety of the environments to plain corridors and hallways to draw attention to the sterility of the previous game, and by subtly criticizing his own fan-base and, in a lot of ways, testing them.

The “Ascending Colon” portion of Metal Gear Solid 2’s plot is always the sequence that people cite as being “weird”, “scary”, and “self-referential”, but you can look to a lot of evidence before the closing portion of the title to see the self-referential and post-modernism facets of the title. Clicking in the thumbsticks during Codec calls will result in the player hearing the thoughts of the game’s characters, on top of being able to manipulate the camera angles, thus giving the player another sense of being an omnipotent being in this world. A lot of the dialogue in the game is intentionally ambiguous and there are many Codec conversations that raise some very interesting questions, often literally, but then never answer them. But yes, the “Ascending Colon” really tackles all of the subtlety of the rest of the game in a ham-fisted, “THIS IS WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO TELL YOU” kind of way, and yet many players just shrugged the whole sequence off as absurd and just a cool, fleeting, moment.

Solid Snake tells Raiden, and the player, that he has infinite ammo and his bandana flails in an imaginary “wind” whilst in the “Ascending Colon”, but even before then Solid Snake does everything in his power to keep the player focused on the mission, because that’s what he represents. Raiden, much like us, has completed the Shadow Moses simulation (and it could be argued that we were playing as Raiden playing the Shadow Moses simulation in MGS1) as well as 350 VR missions, which were the exact number of VR missions included in the VR Missions bonus disk. The Solid Snake that appears in MGS2 plays on Raiden and our pre-determined belief of who Solid Snake is and what he should say, and he acts and speaks just like we want him to, when we want him to. Solid Snake represents the hero that we want to be in these fantastic scenarios, and it was a conscious decision to have him not be the protagonist for this game.

This train of thought extends to all parts of the game. Col. Campbell may or may not be real, but he is a relic of MGS days of yore, pushing the player in a direction because the player demands being given a mission. The floor pattern when fighting the massive, unrealistic, horde of Metal Gear RAYs, which is absurd even by Metal Gear standards, is the exact floor pattern from the photo sessions in the VR Missions game, and its all accented by Solidus Snake, Fortune, Solid Snake, and Ocelot all just appearing out of thin air and flying around, breaking handcuffs, and dodging bullets. Sure, Metal Gear always rode the fine line between realism and absurdity, but Metal Gear Solid 2 raised the stakes in massive quantities to make a point and this was supposed to shatter our suspension of disbelief… but sadly, a lot of players rode the wave and didn’t question a thing.

Food for thought: replay Metal Gear Solid 2 replacing all instances of Raiden’s name with your own during Solid Snake’s final speech in the streets of New York as an ethereal population appears out of thin air and walks in slow motion around a building that was just destroyed in the middle of the city by a giant robot battleship. All of this information is pretty “heady”, and I accept that, so for the final part of my Metal Gear Solid 2 analysis I want to field some questions. If you are at all interested, please tweet @acsummerfield and I’ll try to answer any and all questions. There is a lot to Metal Gear Solid 2 and I tried to cover a vast majority of it, but there just isn’t enough digital paper and ink in the world for me to go in-depth with everything in the title. It’s super ambitious, it says a lot of different things at the same time, it’s fun, and it’s one of my favorite games of all time, but I also think that it’s a very misrepresented and under-appreciated game, and I don’t mean because folks don’t see the same things in it, but because people don’t take the time to really tear it apart and talk about its pieces. I think that that’s why Kojima made such a masterpiece, to spark conversation about games and game convention. We owe it to him and ourselves to at least talk about these things.

I’ll catch you guys next week.

Feature, Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid 2 Pt. 2 | Metal Gear Monday (Tuesday Edition)

Metal Gear Rising: Reveangence is out in less than a month and we’re finally going to take a look at Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, even though I’ll be saving the bulk of Raiden’s role in the game for next week’s article.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was over hyped, massively anticipated, and even considered by many to be the biggest media release of its time. Arguably one of Kojima’s greatest works, many game journalists of the time had a lot to say about the plotting and narrative of the title. OXM described the plot as incomprehensible when reviewing its re-release for the Xbox, while Gamespot spoke of the complexity and opportunity for discussion that the narrative facilitated. Most fans and critics alike simply threw the story to the wind, assuming it as more of the same from days of yore, and chalked up Metal Gear and Kojima simply as absurd, Japanese, and anime inspired. For the most part, the gaming world had dismissed looking beneath the surface of Sons of Liberty‘s story and had missed one of gaming’s greatest criticisms on itself.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released November 13th, 2001 in the United States. Somewhat mysterious is the fact that the game didn’t come out until November 29th in Japan and almost a year later in Europe. The game was three years in development and saw a companion PS2 “game” released alongside it called The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, which went much more in-depth with the production of the title.

As far as gameplay mechanics were concerned, the game ran much smoother than its predecessor, saw a massive graphical overhaul due to the system of release, and introduced a first-person shooting mechanic to the franchise. Much in the same vein as most of Nintendo‘s first-party games, Metal Gear Solid 2 took the formula of Metal Gear Solid and attempted to recreate its format, complete with situations, style of boss pacing and location, and with familiar faces, but this time it would be with a twist.

Many gamers will recognize Metal Gear Solid 2 as the game that “trolled” players into thinking that they’d reprise their role as Solid Snake and save the world again. Hideo Kojima and friends obviously sought to create this mirage. They featured Solid Snake in all of the promo pictures, the demo, and even spoke in generalizations of the game to keep the facade up. Well, an hour and a half into the game (depending on how much of a hardcore MGS fan you are, EXTREME!) Solid Snake was presumed dead and the player took on the role of Raiden, series newcomer and OG whiny, skinny, emo boy that pissed all of the cool fans off.

Hideo Kojima didn’t necessarily know that Raiden would cause as large a stink as he did, but he definitely knew that fans would be upset, and that was partially the point. Kojima started penning MGS2 knowing damn well that MGS would be as successful as it was. He wanted to make a meta-game that broke all of the standards that sequel should follow, deciding to criticize the game that it was a sequel to, and he establishes this very early on with this role reversal.

We’re introduced to some more familiar characters (see Colonel Campbell), though we have no context for their involvement. The bosses are introduced, again to be used as vehicles to move the story forward and provide some interesting gameplay scenarios. But, everything feels a bit… off. Our protagonist has identity issues, even entering the player’s personal information as his own early in the game (and even wearing OUR names on his dogtags!), and its these issues that make up the bulk of the narrative, even within each layer.

I’ll split the game into a few layers for you guys next week and I’ll knock out MGS2. Week after that, look forward to Substance, then we’ll be discussing MGS3 and how Kojima didn’t want to ride the Metal Gear train any longer.

Feature, Video Games

Metal Gear: Ghost Babel | Metal Gear Tuesdays


Huh?! WHOSE FOOTPRINTS ARE THESE? There’s another game that we’re going to have to shamelessly cover before we get to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty? It’s like one of my Japanese animes.

[Writer Update: I just had one of the weirdest weekends of my life, immediately following a hectic return to school. Cut me some slack for missing the last two weeks. I’m fired.]

Yes, yes, lady and gentleman, we have yet another Metal Gear Solid game to cover that you may not have known about before we get to the “most confusing”, “most convoluted”, and “weirdest” entry in the entire franchise, other than Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots of course. This little gem comes courtesy of some alternate sequel, multi-verse, pseudo-handheld-cash-in philosophies and was released April 27th of the year 2000 in Japan and May 5th, 2000 in the rest of the world. I speak, doubtably, about Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, or Metal Gear Solid for the Gameboy Color as it was referred to as here in the Western world.


Essentially, this was the first attempt to bring the Metal Gear universe into all of our collective pockets for portable play, back when every major title had to have some sort of handheld spin-off. Obviously that trend never died. The game, for apparent reasons, had to bring back to the graphics, isometric view, and music of previous games in the series in order to be fully realized on the smaller and less powerful hardware, but honestly… it plays great. The European Konami studios did a great job with the title, as it stays true to the series in terms of style and gameplay mechanics.


I won’t divulge too much of the plot, as since the game exists in an alternate reality bubble (or maybe it’s the real reality and the rest of the series is an alternate one?!) most of the characters from the rest of the series are absent in this title. The only returning faces that you, the player at home, will experience are Solid Snake, Roy Campbell, and Mei Ling. And, speaking frankly, a majority of the game’s plot is pretty throwaway. It plays really well and brings us everything that we’d come to expect from a handheld MSX2 style Metal Gear, but that’s all. Even with these similarities though, the game is broken up  into individual stages with grades received after each one, in order to help make the game and narrative more digestible for on-the-go play.

In a nutshell Solid Snake partners up with Kris Jenner…I mean…Chris Jenner, a Delta Force operative and Meryl fill-in that is surviving in guerrilla territory, to try and stop Metal Gear Gander. The Black Chamber is the small group of odd baddies that stand-in for MGS1’s FOXHOUND, or FOX-HOUND if you really want to bring up the terrible MGS1 subtitles, as the flavor of the week end bosses. The General is the primary antagonist, and of course works as a gap filler for Liquid Snake. Spoilers be damned: Solid Snake wins, that saucy so-and-so!

Besides the general MGS flavored plot-line, the GBC cart is surprisingly packed with quite a lot of goodies, including a secret CODEC frequency with a radio drama on it, 180 VR missions (with some lifted from the PS1 disk), and even Metal Gear Solid‘s first multiplayer mode, which manifests itself in a 2 player versus mode.

Overall it’s a great little package, and if you manage to get your hands on the cart definitely pick it up! The music is great too!

Next week: METAL GEAR SOLID 2: SONS OF LIBERTY IS FINALLY UPON US! Four part mini-thesis extravaganza!

Pro-Tip: There’s a Metal Gear: Ghost Babel poster that can be seen in Metal Gear Solid 2 in B2 of Shell 1.

Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions | Metal Gear Mondays

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.

Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid (Pt. 2) | Metal Gear Mondays


Hello everyone. Last week we got a bit side-tracked from our regularly scheduled article due to the cryptic unveiling of a  potentially Metal Gear related trailer for unknown title: The Phantom Pain, which was shown at this year’s Video Game Awards on Spike TV. But, having taken our small detour, we’re now back on track to look at the gameplay aspects of the original Metal Gear Solid.

Metal Gear Solid (PSX, 1998, Konami)

Essentially being a fully 3D next-gen upgrade from the MSX2 days of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid plays practically identically to the previous games in the series. MGS features the use of stealth action gameplay to take the focus off of violence as the key to progressing, besides the boss fights, a series of gadgets and tactical gear used to allow the player to progress as well as hide more easily from opposition, and all of the radar systems that were implemented in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are also intact, along with a new first-person view mode to assist with planning routes through the enemy stronghold.

Most everything in the game, from the enemy weapons and tactics to the nuances of the architecture and building layout, was made with realism as the intent. When Hideo Kojima’s team shifted work on a then Metal Gear 3 from the 3DO, which had seen Kojima’s Policenauts, to the Sony Playstation, they renamed the title not only out of the thought that not many knew of the Metal Gear series, but also because they wanted to craft the most technically advanced, or solid, title for consoles at the time. Motosada Mori, known now for his tactical advisement to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, began his work with Kojima and the Metal Gear team because of this game, and the mindset for those working on the title was explicitly to create a world that the player could be fully immersed in, and it would be this sentiment that would permeate in every title following.

And Then There Were Giant Robots

But, “realism” aside, Metal Gear has always essentially been a tactical sci-fi stealth game, and so many of those anime tropes and giant mecha robo staples make a return to the series with this third entry. Solid Snake can use cigarettes to spot infrared lasers, much like he could in earlier titles, but you can also use heat seeking stinger missiles to battle a bi-pedal nuclear battle tank while using chaff grenades to render its radar useless. The mixture of realism and insanity is beautiful.

Kojima really began his emphasis of memorable boss fights with this title as well, and especially so when many of the series’s trademark villains all hail from the original Metal Gear Solid. We see the frenzied cat and mouse game with Revolver Ocelot and his ricocheting bullets, the hand-to-hand brawl with a “Cyborg Ninja” who reveals himself as much more, a battle with a beautiful sniper in the heart of a snow storm, and a head game with a psychic lunatic that breaks the fourth wall in a way that console gaming hadn’t at the time, on top of many more.

Particularly with that last boss fight that I detailed, Kojima began to utilize the influence of things outside of his game world to pull the player in with this game. As we’ve already discussed previously with the recently revealed The Phantom Pain trailer, Kojima has a pedigree of incorporating real world games into his video games, usually in the form of riddles and mind games, but this pedigree somewhat began with this original Metal Gear Solid title.

The two most famous instances of this occur when trying to find Meryl Silverburgh’s CODEC frequency and when battling the aforementioned boss Psycho Mantis. In the former, Solid Snake is told by the game’s cast to simply “check on the back of the CD case” and no mention of which CD case they could be talking about. But, when the player finally discovers that the “CD case” is actually the case for the game itself they feel quite accomplished and very well tricked. With the latter scenario, the combatant, Psycho Mantis, is able to read the player’s movements and prevent any damage from being taken by the player’s attacks, which occasionally cutting the television screen to black with text in the top right corner reading “HIDEO”. Solid Snake is eventually told by his compatriots that he must simply swap the controller into Port 2 to keep Psycho Mantis from reading his mind. This track was a great gag that threw players for a loop, but it also has the deeper implication attached to it that Psycho Mantis isn’t necessarily reading anyone’s mind or controlling game characters, but is instead fully aware of the fact that these events are occurring within a video game and is taking advantage of what that means. Granted, the character himself never admits awareness to this, and the game never embraces that in its cannon, but it is brought up prior to the battle itself when Psycho Mantis reads the contents of the player’s memory card and makes a judgement on the player’s taste in games.

But, I digress. Next week we’ll talk about the plot and narrative behind one of my favorite Metal Gear titles in the entire franchise. Y’all come back now, ya hear!

Video Games

The Phantom Pain | Metal Gear Mondays

As much as I would love to keep talking about Metal Gear Solid, I feel the need to turn your attention to something more current this week. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled MGM next week.

At this year’s Spike TV Video Game Awards 10, a trailer for a new game called The Phantom Pain (by an unknown “Swedish” studio, Moby Dick Studio) was shown.

This immediately set off many red flags within the gaming community. For starters, new game reveals and teases at the VGAs are normally reserved for AAA titles from well known developers or publishers, not unknown titles from a company that seemingly came from no where (Moby Dick Studio still has no social media presence, website, or online listings to speak of). On top of all of this, Moby Dick Studio representatives were seen in the Konami VIP section of the VGAs, and one of the Moby Dick Studio reps was confirmed via this Twitter picture to be none other than Kyle Cooper, the title sequence designer for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

As every other article on the subject has done, let me go ahead and plug a thread on the forum Neogaf which has been credited with citing and speculating almost all of the positive information on the title. As the thread shows, here is the evidence that we have so far:

The Phantom Pain looks to be either a teaser for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, which is a direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, or for Metal Gear Solid 5, to which Ground Zeroes has been discussed to be a prologue to by series director Hideo Kojima.

The Phantom Pain is either a reference to Phantom Pains that one feels when losing a limb or an eye and imagines that the limb or eye is still available and operational, or a reference to a Ground Zeroes trailer plug line “From ‘FOX’, Two Phantoms were born” which could allude to the burned figure from the GZ trailer and Big Boss (the confirmed protagonist of GZ) who may be the two primary “patients” in the Phantom Pain trailer.

– There are several cameos/easter eggs from the Metal Gear universe within the trailer for The Phantom Pain, which could either be literal or part of the fever dream atmosphere that the trailer exudes. These include, but aren’t limited to, a flaming figure reminiscent of Col. Volgin from MGS3, white flower petals reminiscent of the flowers from where Naked Snake killed The Boss, a scientist that bears a striking resemblance to Dr. Kio Marv from Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, and a shrouded figure that appears to be wearing a version of Big Boss’s sneaking suit seen in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Ground Zeroes.

A majority of the internet has become quite speculative in theorizing about the contents of this trailer, and with that many theories have started making the rounds. Two primary arguments that I’ve seen are that the protagonist of the trailer cannot be Big Boss due to the amputation and that the protagonist of the trailer might be Frank Jaeger, aka Gray Fox. I must say that I completely disagree with both of these assumptions, primary because Gray Fox’s origins were covered in Portable Ops and because Kojima has been very good about always showing Big Boss as gloved in both MGS1 and 4.

I personally think that The Phantom Pain is actually more of a fever dream or stream of consciousness sequence, as punctuated by the abundant Metal Gear references, the unbelievable sperm whale eating a helicopter, and the extremely odd scoring of the video. I sincerely believe that there is a secret to be had in the audio for this trailer, particularly because it isn’t contributing much of anything to the video, as far as timing or tension building is concerned. I think that the audio track sounds almost as if it’s from another source, or that it could be paired up with another audio track to fill in some of the gaps. Also, if this is trailer is in fact the work of writer/director/producer Hideo Kojima, I have no doubt that he could pull off a new Silent Hill title.

[UPDATE 12/12/12 : The sneaky detectives over at Neogaf have discovered that this trailer takes place in a hospital that may belong to an RAF base and hospital in Cyprus. For more clues, hints, speculation, and an overall entertaining read, please check out the official Neogaf thread here. There’s also a recut trailer that follows the events chronologically available in the thread.]

Only time will tell, but I’m extremely hyped for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid 5 now!

Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Mondays: Snake’s Revenge

It’s Monday, and that means Metal Gear!

This week we’ll be looking at Snake’s Revenge for the NES after last week’s brief break to look at the Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance demo.

Snake’s Revenge (NES, 1990, Konami)

Snake’s Revenge is the red-headed step-child of the Metal Gear series. The game was produced with the American and European markets that had received the poorly translated abomination of the first Metal Gear for NES in mind, and was released in those regions in 1990 and 1991 respectively. Series director, producer, and writer Hideo Kojima had absolutely nothing to do with Snake’s Revenge and was actually completely ignorant about its existence until he was approached by several staff members of Konami who had worked on the title. It was these staff members who pressed for Kojima to produce an actual Metal Gear sequel, after they heard that he was conceptualizing a possible sequel.

Upon the release of Kojima’s Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which was exclusively in the Japanse market for the MSX2 and MSX2+, Snake’s Revenge would be scrapped from the Metal Gear canon forever. This essentially made Snake’s Revenge (which isn’t even a subtitle, but rather the game’s full title) a standalone title that plays more like a Contra clone, another one of Konami’s claims to fame in the late-1980s/early-1990s, than an actual Metal Gear sequel.

That isn’t to say that the stealth aspects of the original title are gone, but there is more of an emphasis on the action, regardless of if there is an “infiltration phase” and a separate “combat/alert phase”. The player starts with weapons in their inventory and since the combat is less of an inconvenience, there isn’t really a downside to engaging in combat more frequently than in the previous title, which would punish you drastically for being spotted by an enemy.


Snake’s Revenge is set just three years following the conclusion of the NES release of Metal Gear. This time, FOXHOUND has discovered, in a clear homage to the Gulf War and other Middle Eastern conflicts, that a rogue nation in the Middle East has intercepted the plans to Metal Gear. “Lieutenant” Solid Snake must infiltrate their stronghold and stop them from producing their own Metal Gear before it’s too late for the Western world. I put “Lieutenant” in quotation marks because Solid Snake’s rank is never revealed in the canonical Metal Gear titles, and in my opinion, makes Solid Snake’s title seem even campier than it already is with a Solid in front of it.

Lt. Solid Snake befriends two other soldiers, John and Nick. John gets captured in order to help Lt. Solid Snake, has a man posing as him that Lt. Solid Snake must defeat, and eventually gets declared M.I.A. by the American Government by the end of the game. Nick is mortally wounded and dies towards the end of the game. Jennifer, a spy among the ranks of the enemy, assists Lt. Solid Snake, but is also eventually captured.

The leader of the rogue nation reveals himself as Big Boss, who was supposedly killed at the end of both the MSX2 and NES releases of Metal Gear, and Lt. Solid Snake defeats him and Metal Gear 2, much in the same way that he defeated both Big Boss and Metal Gear in the previous title.

The U.N. declares a “World Peace Day” in celebration and the credits roll.

Kojima’s Opinion?

Hideo Kojima didn’t even consider working on a true sequel to Metal Gear until one of his junior developers who had been working on Snake’s Revenge approached him and asked for a canonical sequel written and directed by Kojima-san. Kojima has also referred to both the NES version of Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge as a “stain” on his career, “bad game(s)”, as well as stating that the infiltration portions of both games are “maddeningly difficult” even for the Metal Gear creator himself!

If you get a chance, and you consider yourself a Metal Gear fan, you should definitely try out Snake’s Revenge. I warn you that it can be a testing experience. Maybe someday the alternate reality version of Solid Snake, Lt. Solid Snake, will make a humorous re-entry into the world or a cameo appearance in a canonical Metal Gear title, although I think that a Snatcher remake, reboot, or sequel of some sort is probably more feasible than a Snake’s Revenge tie-in from Konami or Kojima.