Friday, September 25, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Metal Gear (NES)

Retro Game of the Day! Metal Gear (NES)

Gear up! Metal Gear. See that ad a couple of images down? That was my introduction to this notorious title, the first in the acclaimed Hideo Kojima's flagship "Metal Gear" series for Konami. I saw the ad in 1988, the year the title released for NES. What did I think of the game? Well. Let me tell you.

To quote Mister Horse, "Well sir, I did not like it." The ad, again I refer you to - hmm, okay, this game looks interesting, my 13-year-old-self thought. Look at all these gadgets! This game must be like Zelda since it has all these great items you can equip - but it's modern day, so even better! Also, it's by Ultra, who's kind of got Konami's stink on them, so it might be pretty good!" Right? Right?

Before I go any further, let me reiterate that the only edition of Metal Gear I'd seen as a youth was the NES conversion of the MSX original. When this released, I'd never heard of an MSX (popular Japanese computer/gaming system). As for publisher Ultra Games - Nintendo was quite strict with how their licensing operations worked (too much detail to go in here, let's just say it was a stranglehold). Companies like Konami and Acclaim got fed up with being limited to only releasing 3 or so titles a year for the uber-popular NES console, as a workaround they'd splinter their label - this was what Ultra Games was. Though to us chillun's, we just perceived it as a different company altogether - and so my undertsanding of Ultra Games was "they were some wannabe company.."

Still, I was somewhat aware of the Konami connection - and K being one of the best devs out there, and also having recently released Contra and Jackal (two quite-good military-themed games, particularly Contra) - well let's say I had some expectations of this new Metal Gear game. They were not met.

So then, what was wrong with Metal Gear? The name sounded funny to begin with - I got my hands on it anyway, plugged it into my NES and.. whoa! This is not a militaristic Zelda! This is not even CLOSE to Contra! What the deuce? Apparently you sneak (awkwardly and non-sensibly) around.. THINGS which might or might not be "sleeping." Still they can wake up and chase you off-screen. You walk around, see a bunch of poorly drawn trees, same dopey characters always respawning in the same dumb places.

Okay I admit it - I feel like I have some license to whine about what is generally a cherished game experience, only because I do have this history with the game (I tried it!) and also the fact that the Angry Video Game Nerd recently declared open season on this garbage. Metal Gear, Kojima's baby might have been a good game - on the MSX. I will never know. Whoever ported this to the NES, Japanese Konami guy I am looking at you, thanks for nothing.

Anyway, I never got far through the game. I guess I need to at least clear one level before I start to talk some serious abuse about a game. If this released a year or so earlier, I would likely have been MUCH more interested. But yeah. No Zelda in Militaristsic theme here. No "gameplay that even slightly resembles Konami's huge hit Contra." Ah well. I just wanted to shoot at stuff. Running up and punching sleeping soldiers was not really my bag at the time. The horrible translation was offensive (the famous "Truck have started to move" and "I feel asleep" lines were not good impressions). The whole game felt glitchy and choppy whereas Konami's "other" games were usually pretty smooth and cleanly presented. A little good workmanship goes a long way!

Can't win 'em all..

1 comment:

  1. Metal Gear for NES is like a little turd of a brat that grows up to be a world-famous humanitarian aid worker; it sucked in its infancy, and then ends up producing Metal Gear Solid 4 which gets a perfect 10/10. But yeah, no matter how good MGS4 is, Metal Gear just sucks.