This is Solid Snake! Your reply please...
"OUTER HEAVEN is the name of heavily armed land in the depth of southern Africa where the dreadful weapon called METAL GEAR is developed. It is the mission of SOLID SNAKE, one of the members of secret army 'FOX HOUND' to sneak into OUTER HEAVEN and destroy METAL GEAR. GO AHEAD SOLID SNAKE!"
— Game description from the MSX2 version.
The very first
installment in the Metal Gear
series. Released in 1987 for the MSX2
computer platform in Japan and Europe, the original Metal Gear
is considered to be one of the earliest examples of the stealth action game
genre (though, Castle Wolfenstein
for DOS predates Metal Gear
by a good six years), as well as the first game ever released designed by Hideo Kojima
The game came into existence when Kojima's superiors, enamored with Capcom's arcade game Commando
and noticing its success, asked him to create an overhead military shooting game for the MSX2. However, Kojima quickly discovered that a fast-paced shooter would be impossible on the MSX2, thanks to the system's own hardware limitations that limited the number of sprites that could be grouped together on the same horizontal plane before the sprites would start flickering (a hardware limitation that the MSX2 shared with the Nintendo Entertainment System
, and which many old-school NES players are familiar with). Kojima then decided to retool the game around avoiding
combat instead, and decided to base the game around stealth and infiltration.
The player controls Solid Snake, a rookie member of special forces group FOXHOUND, who is sent on a mission to infiltrate the fortified state of Outer Heaven and destroy their top-secret weapon Metal Gear, a walking tank capable of launching nuclear missiles from any angle. The game's story is mainly remembered for the plot twist at the end that reveals that Snake's commanding officer, Big Boss, is the leader of Outer Heaven
, which served as the foundation for future games in the series.
In addition to the original MSX2 game, Konami also released a version for the NES, which actually saw release in North America. However, this version was made without Kojima's supervision or consent and while the plot is generally the same, the game itself lacked several features (like the higher level alert phase), had different level layouts and most notably, lacked the actual Metal Gear itself (replaced by a Super Computer).
The original Metal Gear
was followed by two separately-made sequels, both released in 1990 and each taking the story to a different direction: Snake's Revenge
for the NES, which saw a release in North America and Europe, and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
for the MSX2, released exclusively in Japan until it was re-released as a component of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
(along with the original MSX2 version of Metal Gear
). The Metal Gear Solid
games follows the continuity from Metal Gear 2
, rendering Snake's Revenge
into canon discontinuity
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: While the backstory is not quite as extensive as its sequels, the manual for the Japanese MSX2 version has character and enemy profiles that reveal details not actually mentioned in the game itself (like Schneider's motivation for creating the Resistance movement), as well as the complete specifications of Metal Gear itself. The manual also implies that, besides the unfinished message by Gray Fox, he also reported the items and weapons locations discovered in building one shortly before his capture. Here's a page with a downloadable version.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: Played straight when Snake is unarmed, but otherwise averted when he's equipped with a gun. All of the enemy guards and the final boss have different sprites when facing left and right.
- Artificial Stupidity: Guards won't notice you unless you're standing in a straight line directly in front of them. Even if you're standing just inches to their side. Even if you kill another guard in front of them (as long as you're using silenced firearm or punching them).
- Banana Republic: Outer Heaven.
- Big Bad: Big Boss.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: Both, the European MSX2 version and the NES version, have their share of translation hiccups, especially the latter.
- Body Double: The fake Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar in the basement of Building No. 2.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Toward the end of the game, Big Boss calls the player and tells him to turn off the game system.
- Characterization Marches On: Snake is a heroic mime for most of the game, the enemy leader (Big Boss) is a card carrying villain, and Gray Fox has virtually no presence (he disappears from the remainder of the game as soon as he is rescued). This is particularly egregious, considering the sequels made the events of the Outer Heaven mission more epic than what actually occurs in this game.
- Fridge Horror: In Metal Gear 2, Schneider reveals to Snake that Outer Heaven was bombed by NATO, along with everybody else involved in the conflict.
- Big Boss is utterly dismissive at the idea of Snake using a cardboard box to hide, which clashes with Big Boss' cardboard obsession in the later prequels.
- Copycat Cover: The cover illustration is a blatant trace-over of a publicity still of Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese from The Terminator.
- Cut and Paste Environments: All three buildings.
- Dirty Coward: Coward/Dirty Duck hides behind POWs while fighting Snake. Even his name (both of them) spells it out.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: When the game was first released, Big Boss being the mastermind of Outer Heaven was a complete shock and appeared virtually out of nowhere. Although the player could get an early clue should they rescue the one POW in Building 3.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: No crawling. No radar. A transceiver that was completely room oriented. A straightforward, simple plot. After playing this, Metal Gear 2 becomes amazing for how much closer it is to the later Metal Gear Solid games.
- Elite Mooks: The Flying Army who appear only on the rooftops of Building No. 1 and No. 2.
- Event Flag: The NES version won't allow you to destroy the supercomputer without first rescuing the doctor.
- The Faceless: All of Snake's radio contacts are never actually seen in-game with the exception of Big Boss. The Japanese MSX2 manual has illustrations of all the main characters though (other versions weren't so lucky).
- Face With an Internet Connection: Inverted. The only character whose face we actually see in the transceiver mode is Snake's.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Meta-example: in the sequels, the events of the game are described to be somewhat epic, but the game itself seems to be lacking in that regard (in fact, the way the events of the game are described in the sequels make it a variation of a noodle incident). It's largely for this reason why various fans are constantly demanding remakes of the MSX2 games, this game in particular.
- Guide Dang It: Punching random walls to produce unusual sounds and blow them up? Frustrating, but a staple of games like this. Punching random doors which previously only opened with keycards so that you can open them? Not so excusable.
- Big Boss tells the player to contact Schneider whenever an item is needed to get through a certain location. However, Schneider's frequency number is never given by anyone in-game; it's not even listed in the manual. You have to play around with the frequency number of your transceiver when you're two screens north of where you start the game (or when you're standing in front of the west elevator in the third floor) to eventually stumble into it via an incoming transmission (the number is 120.79).
- In the NES version, there are two maze areas in which the correct path is never given by any character. The correct path is the same for both mazes, which is: West, West, North, and West.
- Heroic Mime: While Snake does have lines of dialogue, most of it is just the same three generic messages: one when he dials a frequency number on his radio, when he attempts to obtain more rations/ammo when he has the maximum amount, and finally, one when he is in a moving truck. All of his conversions with the other characters are one-sided and the only time he ever says anything different is when he locates Dr. Madnar's cell (but not Madnar), and when he gives his final mission report in the ending.
- His Name Is...: Schneider's transmission was cut just before he is about to reveal the identity of the Outer Heaven commander.
- Hostage Spirit Link: Shoot a POW and your rank goes down. Justified in that your rank is a representation of how many POWs you've saved anyway.
- Human Shield: Dirty Duck hides behind POWs, and shooting them causes a demotion.
- Humongous Mecha: The Metal Gear itself. Absent in the NES version.
- The Key Is Behind the Lock: The keycard required to access the prison where Gray Fox is located is inside the prison itself. This requires Snake to allow himself to get captured and breakout from said prison.
- Lost In Transmission: How the events of Snake's mission starts. Gray Fox's final words in his final transmission before it was cut were the words "Metal Gear..."
- Mercy Mode: Die enough times and your items and ammo are refilled to maximum.
- Mole in Charge: Big Boss.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The cover illustration is a blatant trace-over of a publicity still from The Terminator featuring Michael Biehn posing as Kyle Reese.
- No Export for You: The MSX2 version was only released in Japan and certain European countries. It wasn't until its inclusion in the Subsistence edition of MGS3 that it got a wide release (particularly in America).
- No Peripheral Vision: The guards literally have no peripheral vision whatsoever. Snake can run alongside them, run past them on the side, and stand next to them as long he wants. They'll never see him unless he's directly in front of one or is already being pursued. The NES version gives enemies better vision, being able to see slightly off what's directly in front of them.
- One Name Only: Schneider, Diane, Steve, Jennifer and Dr. Petrovich. Subverted by Elen, whose full name is listed as "Elen Petrovich" in the Japanese MSX2 manual.
- Metal Gear 2 gave two of those characters full names, Kyle Schneider and Dr. Pettrovich Madnar, essentially retconing "Pettrovich" from a surname to a given name. In the re-released versions, Madnar's full name was further changed to Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar (turning "Pettrovich" into a patronymic), while Ellen's surname was officially changed from "Pettrovich" to "Madnar" for consistency.
- Orwellian Retcon: Some of the characters were renamed in the re-released versions of Metal Gear, although the changes were not as extensive as in Metal Gear 2.
- Shoot Gunner become Shotmaker.
- The TX-11 Arnold "cyberoid" became Bloody Brad.
- Coward Duck became Dirty Duck.
- Dr. Petrovich now gives out his full name as Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar.
- Likewise, his daughter Elen became Ellen Madnar.
- Puzzle Boss: Metal Gear can only be destroyed by planting 16 explosives on its legs, on a specific order. To make things worse, you have to guess where to put the last bomb.
- Reformulated Game: The NES version, which featured redesigned level layouts (mostly due to executive meddling), different music for some parts and replaces the Metal Gear battle at the end with a dormant Super Computer.
- Ruritania: See Where The Hell Is Springfield? below.
- Rush Boss: The Bulldozer.
- Shout-Out: To Howard the Duck of all things. In the early versions, the boss that was later renamed Dirty Duck was known as Coward Duck. Also, a powerful android that was later renamed Bloody Brad was originally known as Arnold.
- Stealth-Based Game: One of the very first.
- Taking You with Me: The Madnar body double attempts to do this to Snake after the latter rescues him, via using a pit trap. It failed, though. Big Boss also attempts to do this in the final boss fight.
- Three-Quarters View: The overall perspective, which makes Outer Heaven's architecture seem very weird once you think about it. Why is every single wall trapezoidical?
- Treacherous Advisor: If you don't know who it is, consider yourself lucky.
- Trope Codifier: For the stealth based game genre.
- The Unfought: The Metal Gear itself in the NES version.
- Unwinnable by Design: See Hostage Spirit Link or Video Game Cruelty Punishment concerning demotions. If you get a demotion in some situations, you will not have enough ammo to destroy certain bosses (or even to obtain an item needed to complete the game). There might not even be enough POWs remaining or available to restore the required four-star rank.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing a single POW will demote the player to their previous rank. Itís possible for the player to work his way back to his previous rank if there are enough POWs still left to save, but killing certain POWs (like Ellen or Jennifer's brother) will make the game unwinnable.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In the NES version, Snake is shown parachuting into Outer Heaven with three other soldiers. They are never seen nor referred to again.
- Where The Hell Is Springfield?: Outer Heaven and the Galzburg region are stated to be in South Africa, but it is never actually specified where it is exactly. It should be noted that this is one of the few Metal Gear games (and certainly the only canonical installment) to play this straight.
- With This Herring: Your starting equipment is a pack of cigarettes. You need to search for a basic handgun, and make a second search for ammo.
- Working Title: Intruder.
- Working Title Drop: Typing "intruder" in the MSX2 version while the game is paused will increase the player's maximum ammo capacity to 999 per weapon.