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Hideo Kojima (director)
MSX2, Mobile phone, PlayStation 2, Virtual Console, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita
Cartridge (MSX2), Paid download (mobile phone, Virtual Console), DVD (PS2, Xbox 360), Blu-ray Disc (PS3), PS Vita Card (PS Vita)
Metal Gear (メタルギア, Metaru Gia?) is a stealth action game designed by Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear was developed and first published by Konami in 1987 for the MSX2 home computer and was well-received critically and commercially.
The game's premise revolves around a special forces operative codenamed Solid Snake who carries out a one-man sneaking mission into the hostile nation of Outer Heaven to destroy Metal Gear, a bipedal walking tank capable of launching nuclear missiles from anywhere in the world. Most of the subsequent games in the series follow this same premise, often changing the characters, locations, and weapons.
Originally released for the MSX2 in Japan and Europe, the game was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System during the same year, although with many significant changes made to the game. This was followed with ports to various home computers, such as the PC MS-DOS and Commodore 64. It was also ported to mobile phones and Nintendo GameCube (as part of the Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes Premium Package) in 2004 and for the PlayStation 2 in 2005 as a component of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, with several enhancements and changes, such as typo corrections and some grammatical changes.
Its success led to the creation of two separately-produced sequels; the first one, Snake's Revenge, was produced specifically for the Western market for the NES and the other, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, was the canonical sequel developed by Kojima and released in Japan for the MSX2 in response to the former's creation. The latter was followed by a successful series of sequels and spin-offs.
The cover art of Metal Gear is based on a photo of Michael Biehn in character as Kyle Reese from The Terminator.
200 km north of the region of Galzburg, South Africa, lay the fortress of Outer Heaven, a fortified state that had been founded by a legendary mercenary in the late 1980s. In 1995, the Western world had received intelligence that warned of a weapon of mass destruction that was supposedly being constructed deep within the fortress. High-tech Special Forces unit FOXHOUND, commanded by the legendary soldier Big Boss, sent their best agent, Gray Fox to infiltrate the stronghold. However, days later, contact with Gray Fox was lost, his final transmission consisting only of two words: "METAL GEAR..."
With the goal of rescuing Gray Fox and uncovering the meaning of the cryptic message, rookie operative Solid Snake is sent into Outer Heaven alone.For a full summary of Operation Intrude N313, see here.
Outer Heaven Mercenaries
The player must navigate the main character, Solid Snake, through various locations, while avoiding visual contact and direct confrontation with patrolling guards. If the player is seen, the game enters Alert Mode. In this situation, the player must hide in order to leave the mode. The method of escaping varies depending on the circumstances of the discovery:
Snake infiltrates Outer Heaven.
At first, the player starts the game unarmed, but eventually gains access to a variety of firearms (starting with the Beretta) and explosives, working their way up to machine guns and guided rocket launchers. Ammo and supplies for each weapon are limited, but are easily replenished. Weapons can not only be used to kill enemies, but also to clear obstacles such as hollow walls or electrified floors. Snake can also use his fists to punch and defeat patrolling enemies and take any rations, ammo, or any other important items, such as keycards, that they leave behind.
The enemy base consists of three different buildings, with multiple floors, including basement levels, within them. The player uses keycards and other items to unlock doors or explore new areas. Doors will only open to their corresponding keycards. Bosses also appear throughout the game to interfere with the player's progress.
Information can be obtained by rescuing POWs being held captive within the buildings. After rescuing five POWs, the player is given a promotion, increasing their "Rank" (up to four stars max), allowing for greater ammo capacity and maximum health. However, if a POW is killed, the player is demoted to the previous rank.
A transceiver is available for the player to communicate with their commanding officer, Big Boss, or one of the Resistance members operating covertly within the fortress. Each of Snake's allies has extensive knowledge on specific subjects. The transceiver is completely room-oriented, as certain transmissions occur only in certain locations.
In 1986, Hideo Kojima joined Konami as a planner, in which he had trouble fitting in with the company. Kojima was then given a game plan. Despite working on his game, Last Warld, for six months, Konami ultimately decided to cancel it. As a result of the cancellation, Kojima was the only one in the company at the time who did not have one of their games released. This led other developers within the company to tell him, "at least complete one game before you die." Afterwards, he was given another game plan. This particular game plan was about war. Due to the hardware limitations of the MSX2, Kojima decided to develop a game where the main objective was to avoid the enemy rather than fight them directly (similar to the film The Great Escape). This decision was questioned by his bosses. This, along with the cancellation of his previous game, nearly led Kojima to leave Konami. However, one of his bosses encouraged him to stay and convinced him to continue the development of the game. Kojima did, and the game, which became Metal Gear, was released in Japan for the MSX2 in July 1987.
Two versions were released for the MSX2: a Japanese version and an English (European) version. For the English version, Konami edited a number of the game's radio messages and removed others entirely. Some of the removed messages include almost all of Big Boss's comments regarding an item and weapon, some of Schneider's messages, and all of Steve's calls. Reportedly, only 86 of the game's 116 messages were kept. In addition, some of the dialogue was also altered to accompany more European-based terms. For example, when boarding a movable truck, Snake says, "I goofed! The lorry started to move!" ("Lorry" being the British and/or English Commonwealth dialect for "truck").
The Japanese MSX2 manual contains exclusive content not found in the English MSX2 manual (nor in the Famicom/NES manuals), such as character profiles with illustrations, brief descriptions of the game's bosses, and the complete specifications of the TX-55 Metal Gear.
Nintendo Entertainment System
The NES version of Metal Gear was developed shortly after the completion of the original MSX2 version, although it was developed by a separate team without the consent or involvement of Hideo Kojima or any of the original MSX2 staff. Many substantial changes were made to the game during the conversion process, resulting in a drastically different game. Up until the inclusion of the MSX2 version in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, the NES version was the only version of the game that was officially available in North America.
For full details, see Metal Gear (NES).
A mobile phone version of Metal Gear was released only in Japan on August 18, 2004. The game is based on the original MSX2 version, but includes several additional features and changes.
A PlayStation 2 version is included as a component of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. The game includes all the changes made in the mobile phone version, as well as further enhancements. The English version contains a rewritten script as well, with a more complete translation than the earlier European MSX2 version. The North American version also has an optional Spanish script. It also includes some sound effects that were originally present in the MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2, including the high pitched squeak that's uttered when a boss is hit, as well as the higher pitched version when their health is dangerously low upon being hit. It also contains descriptions for the various weapons which had been left out of the original localization.
Wii Virtual Console
A port for the Wii Virtual Console was released on December 8, 2009 for Japanese players only. It was primarily based on the MSX2 version instead of the NES version.
References in later games
A tape in The Phantom Pain referencing the events of Metal Gear.
Metal Gear itself makes a brief audio-only appearance in Act 3 of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where the "Theme of Tara" is briefly and faintly heard in one of the houses in Midtown. According to the Integral Podcast, the addition of the theme, besides as an Easter egg, was also meant to imply that the occupant of the house was playing Metal Gear.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain retcons the final boss fight and ending of the game, as the character defeated within Outer Heaven is actually a body double of Big Boss, thus explaining how the latter was able to escape the fortress's destruction. The ending also has Snake playing a cassette tape titled "Operation Intrude N313", although it's connection to the events of Metal Gear, if any, are not made clear.
When interviewed following the development of The Twin Snakes, Kojima stated that he had no plans to develop remakes of the MSX2 games, although he did not dismiss the possibility of having a third party develop them. Kojima later reiterated this on March 23, 2012, feeling that it would necessitate that he rewrite most of the game's story. He further stated this on Twitter on June 27, 2013. However, due to Kojima's departure from Konami in 2015, any remakes for Metal Gear is left undetermined.
On May 31, 2014, a fan-made 2.5D remake of Metal Gear was given the go-ahead by Konami so long as the developers did not make money off the project. It was eventually cancelled, however. The project was "restarted" post E3 2014 but was officially cancelled on August 18, 2014. One reason is rumored to have been that the project wasn't as far enough along as Konami had hoped. Another rumored reason is that the developers had written the character Roy Campbell into the game without approval from Konami.
The game's logo.
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June 1987 ad covering various MSX games by Konami, including the first announcement of Metal Gear. Note that several elements in the included screenshots for the game differed from the final game. Notably, there was no white border around the life gauge, and the weapons and equipment slots in the HUD; the HUD had room for an O2 Gauge, which thus had the player rank occurring in the middle; the fence in the courtyard of Building 1 being a wooden fence rather than a chain link fence, and Snake holding a gun in the courtyard image that wasn't present in the final release (either being an earlier design of his handgun or removed altogether).
July 1987 ad covering Metal Gear alongside The Maze of Galious and the announcement of Gradius 2 (a.k.a. Nemesis 2).
August 1987 stand-alone ad for Metal Gear.
September 1987 ad for Gradius 2, which also mentions Metal Gear and F-1 Spirit.
Japanese promotional brochure
Rear side of the brochure
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A hand drawn map of the first floor of Building No 1. Part of a development document found within Hideo Kojima's personal bookshelf.
A handwritten script of the game's radio conversations. It was written in Katakana since the ROM size was not large enough to include a full set of Hiragana and Kanji characters. It was mostly the same as in the final game, save for the fact that "INTRUDE" was originally going to be transcribed as "OPERATION CODE", but was crossed out hastily for "INTRUDE".
A rejected proposal for an MSX game titled Intruder (dated 1986), which was the project that evolved into Metal Gear. According to the handwritten note, the reason it was rejected was due to their choosing the second version, a revised draft, made on January 7, 1987. The "Metal Gear" being near Intruder indicates that Intrude was going to be a subtitle.
A handwritten script for the English MSX2 version, which took into account the larger space needed to display English text by shortening the dialogue.
A rejected draft of the title sequence. It would have featured the title fading into the screen via palette adjustment before "Metal" and "Gear" move up and down, respectively, leaving slight sihlouettes behind them mirroring the packaging logo as a sound effect plays. Additional text would appear shortly afterward.
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