The Metal Gear Series would have been 35 years old today.
Thirty-five years ago, Metal Gear was released for the MSX2 personal computers. Although Metal Gear was not the first game Hideo Kojima designed, it was the first title he directed. The MSX2 Metal Gear was a breakthrough — it introduced stealth mechanics to the masses and introduced characters that would be used in dozens more titles.
The MSX2 was unavailable in many parts of the world, so Konami decided that Metal Gear would be ported to the Famicom/NES. This would have been the first of many bad decisions by Konami that would impact the series. American gamers received a rushed version of the game, apparently made under strict instructions to be as different as possible from the original. Kojima was not involved in the game and disowned it years later. Metal Gear NES wasn’t a bad game, even though it doesn’t include the title Metal Gear.
Metal Gear was a huge success worldwide, so Konami decided to create Snake’s Revenge, a US-only sequel without Kojima. Kojima responded by creating Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on the MSX2. The Metal Gear series was in limbo for almost a decade while Kojima worked on titles such as Policenauts and the Tokimeki Memorial series. In 1998, Metal Gear Solid changed everything.
Kojima and Konami released Metal Gear games of all sizes, including portable titles, console titles and stealth games. The Metal Gear series was a cultural success, thanks to Kojima’s flair for drama and geopolitical intrigue. However, Konami’s early interference with Metal Gear foreshadowed more significant problems later.
Konami announced a corporate restructuring in early 2015, including cutting ties to Kojima Productions. Kojima’s identity was removed from Metal Gear Solid, and Konami’s lawyers banned him from attending The Game Awards. Kojima Productions was reformed as an independent studio with their first release, 2019’s Death Stranding.
However, Konami’s departure did not stop Kojima from making Metal Gear games. They released Metal Gear Survival in 2018, a tower defence/survival video game that features a soldier named “The Dust”. He travels through a wormhole to find a new dimension with zombies. The player must create various items to survive and solve the mystery of “The Dust”. In practice, this entails putting up a fence to keep the zombies out and poking at them with sticks until they die. This is similar to Metal Gear after Konami produced this game.
Many Metal Gear titles cannot be played on modern hardware. Metal Gear Solid4 is one example. It’s still not playable on the PlayStation 3. You’ll need to play them however you want. The easiest way to see Metal Gear is to emulate it using a translation patch. Here are some of my favourite pieces from the Metal Gear collection that we have published over the years.
- The Metal Gear Solid Novelization, a Modern Classic
- Platonic Solids, Solid Snake: Hideo Kojima’s Erotic Formalism
- How Metal Gear Forgoes Realism to Communicate the Horror of Imperial Violence