Auteurs in the video game designing landscape are getting few and far between. Thankfully, the ones that do exist and made their mark back in the 80s and early 90s aren’t going to retire so soon.
Take a look at game designer Hideo Kojima; if it weren’t for him and his zany obsession with films and being a director/producer, we wouldn’t be experiencing the best stealth game-slash-political drama series out there: the Metal Gear series.
So let’s celebrate this joyous occasion by bringing up 30 awesome facts about the Metal Gear series. Here’s to you, Kojima!
Metal Gear was originally on the MSX2; the game was designed with this goal in mind: how do you create an action game within the system’s limitations? The solution was to make sure that stealth was a priority; you have to avoid the enemy as much as possible. Therefore that means less enemies on-screen but with amplified tension if players were caught.
Hideo Kojima, the father of Metal Gear, was close to not achieving this milestone. After having a game cancelled after six months of development, he was going to leave until a Konami boss told him this: “At least before you leave, make and complete one game.”
Metal Gear was ported onto the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was an edited port which Kojima did not approve because it had broken level transitions, a shoehorned intro stage, and the title character Metal Gear omitted as a last stage boss.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was the direct sequel to the first Metal Gear. Instead of being released on newer platforms at the time, the sequel was released on the already-dead-at-the-time MSX2 console. Loyalty, I guess.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was never officially exported outside of Japan until it was released as an add-on for Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence in 2006.
Oh and for those who played the NES Metal Gear games, the NES action game Snake’s Revenge is not canon to Metal Gear despite the fact that it stars a protagonist called Solid Snake.
Ironically, if it weren’t for Snake’s Revenge, Kojima would not have been inspired to create Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
MGS’ two main protagonist’s names were inspired by Kojima’s favourite film: 2001 A Space Odyssey. Solid Snake’s real name is David and Otacon’s real name is Hal Emmerich. The first names of the two are the names of the two prominent characters in the Stanley Kubrick film.
The “Solid” subtitle in Metal Gear Solid means three things. It’s a reference to the main protagonist’s name, it’s also to signify how solid the transition from 2D to 3D is since Kojima and his team said that 3D objects feel “solid” in-game.
The third meaning is a jab at game company Square (now Square Enix). According to an old interview from publication Gamers Today,Kojima said that the president of Konami wanted MGS to surpass Square. They wanted to make it a cube, you know, like “solid 3D”, so it’s got that meaning too.
Metal Gear Solid 2 is the first in the series to incorporate a first-person view mode, and with great detail too. Shoot a guy too close in that view and you get blood on the screen. Stare at the sky filled with seagulls for too long, and you get bird poop.
Speaking of birds, if you shoot too many seagulls, Raiden’s girlfriend Rose will get mad at you. Because you need her to save your game on a PS2 memory card, players will need to sit through a bunch of cutscenes where Raiden apologises to Rose.
Raiden a.k.a Jack and Rose in MGS2 are named after the lead characters of the James Cameron movie Titanic. The fact that the first area of MGS2 takes place on a ship is also no coincidence; Kojima really loves that movie.
Everyone was surprised at the fact that MGS2’s protagonist at the time was not Snake but was instead an upstart named Raiden. In promo trailers, the 3D model for Solid Snake was used as a stand-in for all of MGS2’s scenes and action bits for advertisement purposes.
This bluff was inspired by Terminator 2’s promo and trailers back in the 90s where people didn’t know Arnold Schwarzenegger was the good guy until they saw the movie. For context, he was the bad guy in the first Terminator film.
Metal Gear Solid 3:Snake Eater for the PlayStation 2 is actually a prequel which tells the tale of Solid Snake’s “dad” Big Boss. It takes place right after the Kennedy Assassination in 1964.
Composer Harry Gregson-Williams said before production that he would compose music for the game if it was set in the jungle. Kojima did intend to set it in the jungle initially, but said to Williams that he would change the settings just to get him on board.
Metal Gear fans were not pleased with Raiden in MGS2 at the time, so Kojima threw them a bone and added in a parody character called Major Raikov, whom players can vent their frustrations at in-game.
The developers of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater were creative with the game’s boss fights, but the one battle that stood out was against the old sniper known as The End. The most infamous way to beat him without fighting him directly is to set their PlayStation 2’s internal clock a week ahead, since The End is a week away from death.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot was on the PS3. To hammer the point home that the fourth game is a PS3 exclusive, Sony released a Bluetooth headset styled after Snake’s Solid Eye device around the game’s release in 2008. That, and the inclusion of this scene too which is a not-so-subtle jab at Microsoft Xbox’s multi-disc format.
Kojima’s initial ending for MGS4 was to have Snake and Otacon turned to the authorities only to be executed for being terrorists. The Kojima Productions staff would not work with him if he went that route.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC got its subtitle from a real medical phenomena that occurs from a lost limb or organ; feeling pains that aren’t there in the first place.
MGS5: Ground Zeroes is a prequel to MGS5 The Phantom Pain. It also starts off with a really long panning shot featuring a faction led by Skullface meeting some prisoners. This was an inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rope; back then films use as little cuts as possible.
And yes, Ground Zeroes is a ballsy move on Konami’s part to sell a small chunk of a game for retail price. Essentially people are fine paying for a demo these days.
There were a LOT of controversial military and political themes in MGS5. Kojima chose to approach and tackle them in the game. He believes that if game designers do not cross that line, “if we don’t make attempts to express what we really want to express, games will only be games… I didn’t want to stay away from these things that could be considered sensitive.”
In terms of breaking the limit and crossing taboos, he refers to the series Breaking Bad as a good touchstone, where Walter White and Jesse Pinkman cross many lines in difficult situations to get their message across.
MGS5 marks the first time the lead character Big Boss is not voiced by David Hayter. Instead, Kiefer Sutherland voices Big Boss.
MGS5 also has a lot of allusions to the book Moby Dick. Big Boss has a hook on his left hand, and he’s got a companion called Ishmael who helps him out of the burning hospital in the first level of the game. Heck, there’s even a giant flaming whale that flies in the sky as soon as that stage is over.
Part 5 is inspired by the popular George Orwell novel 1984. David Bowie’s musical adaptation of the book called Diamond Dogs is also the name of the team Big Boss joins in this MGS.
Following Kojima’s “exit” from the company, the first Metal Gear game without Kojima’s involvement is an upcoming survival shooter called Metal Gear Survive. Its release date has yet to be revealed. The trailer video from Konami officially has 2,992 dislikes as of this writing.
Were there any pieces of facts and trivia about the Metal Gear series we’ve missed? Tell us on the comments below.
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