Impressions: Metal Gear (NES)

October 6, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

I’m going to try something a little different… Instead of just posting reviews after I’ve completed a game, I’m going to post a sort of “gameplay diary” to record my thoughts as the game progresses. I’ve noticed my opinion of a game can change a lot as I go through various parts of it, so it might be fun to jot those thoughts down. So here we go!

After finishing Top Gear 2 and Wario Land, I needed a new game to play. So I asked my girlfriend to pick one out for me — of course, she had no idea what she was looking at, so it was essentially “pick a game from my game room at random.” It worked out pretty well, though, since Metal Gear was one game I’d been thinking I need to try out.

Anyhow, my first impression of the game is that everyone is right about the god-awful translation. I’d heard about it so many times that it had become cliché — just one of those things that everyone has to poke fun of because it’s the thing to do. Well, it’s not just a cliché. It’s genuinely bad. “First, attempt to contact missing our ‘Grey Fox.'” (?) “I feel asleep!” (??) “Uh-oh the truck have started to move!” (???) Ugh.

My second impression was how damn hard the game is. You start out virtually defenseless, with no weapon but your fists, and all kinds of enemies (including dogs) will kill you in no time. Frankly, it’s frustrating. But once I got into the right mindset, I started to “get” it. I started treating the game less as an action/adventure and more as a puzzle game. I stopped worrying about dying and just set the goal to find the best possible path through each section. If I died, no big deal, I just tried a different way. Thankfully, you keep all your items when you continue.

So at this point, I’m starting to actually like the game. I found the instruction book online and learned what some of the items do, I’ve found a virtually flawless path through the opening sections, I have some new items at my disposal, and I’m infiltrating the enemy base, so things are starting to pick up. I just hope I get a weapon soon…

Anyway, off to play it a bit more. I will keep updating this post as I get further along, so check back!

Update 1: Okay, this game is terrible.  Really, seriously, terrible… Infinitely respawning (and seriously retarded) enemies; tedious gameplay that forces you to restart completely each time you die (or even when you use your password to continue); glitches galore (the game flat out hung on me three times so far).  And yet, I’m hooked.  For some reason, I just want to keep playing.  I want to see what’s through the next door and around the next corner.  I want to find that perfect path through each room that sneaks me past every obstacle without a scratch.  I’m, somehow, enjoying all this??  I’m just wondering when the hell I’m gonna get a gun, though.  I found explosives, remote-controlled missiles, and even a silencer, but no gun?  I think I must have missed it.  But at the same time, I’m not so sure I want to find it.  I’m enjoying the pure-stealth approach.  Well, maybe I’ll find the gun next time, since I have to restart from the beginning when I continue, anyway.

Update 2: Oh for crying out loud.  I just finished a session of this game where I was really starting to get into it.  It turns out I did, in fact, miss a handgun in my earlier playthroughs, so I finally found that — along with mines, a grenade launcher, a machine gun, and lots of other fun stuff.  I even made it far enough that now I don’t have to start over from the beginning when I continue!  But of course, just as I’m leaning towards “You know, this game’s not so bad… I actually rather like it,” it decides to just crash on me.  After finding Grey Fox, finding all my supplies again, and taking down (what I’m assuming is) the first boss, I do something as simple as try to go to the next screen, and it just hangs.  Fun!  I wonder how much QA this game actually got.  I’m leaning towards “None.”  The best part?  I’ll be crawling back for more tomorrow…

Update 3: Making good progress — No crashes or anything like that to report today!  I suspect I’m just about halfway through, about to rescue Pettrovich.  I found a whole bunch of POWs that I missed before, so I’ve reached the 3-star level and am pretty much unstoppable.  Also, I decided to check out the original MSX version of the game, so I got the fan translations up and running on an emulator.  Boy, is it better!  The graphics and sound are way different.  I’m noticing that the NES version is actually pretty faithful once you get past the awful opening jungle sequence, which doesn’t even exist in the MSX version.  I’m thinking about doing an in-depth article to compare the Western version of the series (Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge on NES) to the Japanese series (Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on MSX).  That could be fun, but I’d have to play through all four games first!

Update 4: Oh, Kojima… You got me.  You got me good.  I thought I was about to rescue Pettrovich, but nope… Plot twist!  Anyway, onto Building 2.  I’m a 4-star rank and making good progress.  There’s much less stealth involved at this point, though — there’s no real point in avoiding enemies anymore, considering how much health, how many rations, how much ammo, and the body armor I have.  The game is now more about exploration, finding the items you need to progress, and taking down big boss-type enemies.  The password system is really getting on my nerves.  Why would anyone design a 25-character password where you can’t back up and correct mistakes?  One typo, and you have to actually finish filling out your (incorrect) code, then start all over again.  Ugh!