Ask anybody who grew up playing PlayStation consoles to name some of the most iconic video game characters of all time, and I guarantee Solid Snake will show up on their list.
The Metal Gear Solid series has become one of the most beloved franchises in all of video gaming. With multiple entries earning millions of sales, numerous awards, and cultivating a fan base of thousands of people worldwide, the stealth-action series has stood the test of time, and made something of an industry celebrity of its creator, Hideo Kojima.
The series unfortunately seems to be in an uncertain state as of 2017, with Kojima having had a very public and unfriendly split with Metal Gear publisher Konami. The company has pledged to continue the franchise without him, but their first new series entry, a zombie-survival shooter set in an alternate game universe, has fans less than impressed.
However, July 1987 marks the release of the game that started it all: Metal Gear, released on the Japan-only MSX computer and later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System for North American audiences.
In honor of this, and the memories it would soon create for several generations of gamers, let’s take a look at just what made the original Metal Gear so influential and amazing.
Click to the next page for some thoughts on Metal Gear.
The first game to really pioneer the “stealth action” game style, Metal Gear was unique upon release for offering up a game where shooting everything in sight was not only discouraged, but would probably get you killed.
This is nothing new today, but in 1987 it was mind-blowing. Most games with a military theme resembled something more like Contra, where if you ever stopped hitting the shoot button, you weren’t playing it right.
Metal Gear was also among the few games that had a persistent overworld instead of individual levels. Like its peers in The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, it required you to go back to areas you’d been to once you got new items, as some would allow you to get into sections that you previously couldn’t.
Kojima even started to experiment with some of the gameplay innovations that people would come to notice in Metal Gear Solid 10 years later. For example, there’s a part where you have to let a guard capture you to get further in the game. If you move at all while he moves towards you, he instantly shoots and kills you!
The plot was also pretty advanced for the time, especially considering its big plot twist that Big Boss, Snake’s commander and the one who orders his mission into the Outer Heaven mercenary base, has been its leader the entire time.
This actually leads to probably the most important fact about the game; the fact that despite being released back in 1987, its story was continually referenced throughout the rest of the franchise, all the way up to 2015’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
In fact, not only did it lay out the foundations of the plot for Metal Gear Solid, but Metal Gear Solid 3 and V even took you back to before the first game and allowed you to experience the story of Big Boss!
And of course, we all remember the NES version’s hilariously awful translation.
It may be 30 years old, but the original Metal Gear‘s legacy has stood the test of time.
Here’s to you, Metal Gear.