This story is dedicated to all those cyberpunks who fight against injustice and corruption every day of their lives.
All controversy begins with DOUBT.
On June 6, 1996, a chemical weapon known as Lucifer-Alpha under development in Russia, is released into the atmosphere, resulting in the death of 80% of the Eurasian and Eastern European population which in turn results in the death of half of the world's population. The contaminated area becomes uninhabitable for a decade, when Lucifer-Alpha mutates into a non-lethal form. This tragic event later becomes known as "the Catastrophe".Fifty years later, a breed of artificial life-forms or bioroids known as "Snatchers" began appearing in the artificial island of Neo Kobe City, killing their victims and taking their place in society. Nobody knows exactly what they are or where they come from. It is up to Gillian Seed, an amnesiac working for an Anti-Snatcher task force called J.U.N.K.E.R., and his Robot Buddy, Metal Gear, to track down the source of the Snatchers and discover Gillian's mysterious connections to them.A graphic-adventure game written and directed by Hideo Kojima, set in a Cyberpunk universe (with clear Blade Runner overtones), with all of the quirkiness the game designer is known for, and more than a couple Shout Outs to other Konami games and the Metal Gear series. In Japan, Snatcher was originally released for the PC 88 and MSX2 computer platforms in 1988 and then remade for the PC Engine in Super CD-ROM-ROM format in 1992, followed by another set of re-releases in 1996 for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The only English version produced is the 1994 Sega CD version, which regularly sells on eBay for about $200, thanks to the game's limited distribution of a quarter million copies (due to the decline of the Sega CD add-on at the time of its release).Highly recommended for anyone with old Sega equipment (or KEGA Fusion); everyone else can follow along with the Let's Play's of both the original (in both screenshot and video formats) and SD Snatcher by Something Awful's Slowbeef and Snatcher counterpart 0xBEEF.Though no sequel to Snatcher was ever made, the game was remade on the MSX2 as a Super-Deformed RPG titled SD Snatcher, and a Spiritual Successor titled Policenauts was released for various platforms.
Alien Blood: Snatchers leak green 'blood' out of theirs mouths once defeated.
All There in the Manual: The manuals for the PC-88, MSX2, and PC-Engine versions all featured an elaborate plot guide with information about the game's backstory and setting. The American Sega CD manual is unfortunately very basic by comparison, including only the character bios and a guide to JUNKER HQ. The European Mega CD manual thankfully has the whole plot guide translated.
And the Adventure Continues: In the ending, Gillian and the JUNKER team - what's left of it, anyway - depart to destroy more Snatcher factories around the world, starting with Moscow. "THIS CONFLICT HAS JUST BEGUN."
Attack Its Weak Point: Snatchers have a conveniently-placed "vent" on their cranium, used to adjust the size of their skulls, which is their sole vulnerable spot.
Audio Adaptation: The Snatcher Sound Clip, a mini-CD that was given out as a Pre-Order Bonus to people who purchased the PC-Engine version, featured a short radio drama which involved Metal and Jamie pulling a prank on Gillian on the day of his birthday.
Bowdlerized: In coming to America, some bits of Fan Disservice nudity, some off-color jokes and some of the gore was removed. Katrina's age was also bumped up from 14 to 18, which makes Gillian's (largely untouched) Handsome Lechery all the creepier in retrospect.
Painting the Medium: At one point, the player is asked to turn up the volume to listen for a faint noise, and to further achieve this, the menu sounds are quietened as well. When a loud explosion occurs shortly therafter, Gillian complains his ears are ringing. "That's because you left the volume turned up." Metal cheerfully replies. To which Gillian blames the Snatchers.
The Cameo: Played with, as said cameos are Outer Heaven customers dressed up as various of characters, depending on your version.
Though this is justified, at least somewhat, by Gillian and his wife having split apart because neither of them can remember each other anymore.
You can even choose to hit on the 18-year-old daughter (14 in the original version) of the man whom's decapitated corpse you were looking at just a little while ago. So, maybe drop the "chivalrous" part, depending on how you play the game.
In the 8-bit versions of Snatcher, the computer used by Jean-Jack Gibson is either, a PC-88 or MSX2 depending on the platform the game is running. In later versions Gibson uses a PC-68, a completely fictional model.
A much more subtle example comes in the model numbers of Metal Gear and Little John in the 8-bit versions, which referenced the platforms that Snatcher was originally released for: "Metal Gear Mk. II/SR" (the "SR" was a specific model version of the PC-88) and "Little John msx011".
In the end of the CD-ROM versions, Metal Gear Mk. II is rebuilt into the console the game is running on depending on the version (i.e. a PC Engine Duo, a second model Genesis with Sega CD attachment, a PlayStation or a Sega Saturn).
Cool Car: Gillian's turbocycle. Contrary to the name, its actually a 3-wheeled hover car, with joysticks instead of a steering wheel.
Dynamic Difficulty: How well you do on the Junker's Eye practice system determines how hard the game's later shootouts will be. Its possible to make them real easy by deliberately bungling said training system.
Early-Bird Cameo: Dr. Elijah Modnar and his father Petrovich were mentioned in the original PC-88 and MSX versions, but didn't actually appear until the CD-ROM versions. However, they both make an appearance in the SD Snatcher RPG remake.
Easter Egg: Try entering the names of Konami staff (Such as Hideo Kojima) in the JORDAN database at Junker HQ. Not to mention the bonus videophone numbers you can call triggering such funny little scenes such as Gillian attempting to hold a conversation with Jeremy Blaustein, Konami's translator.
Encyclopedia Exposita: J.U.N.K.E.R. has a database filled with extra information regarding Neo Kobe City, Snatchers, The Catastrophe, and other data.
Fan Disservice: Following the shoot-out with Snatcher-Lisa, she falls backward onto the floor with her breast exposed... An image which is juxtaposed with her exploded head and metallic skull. The nudity was removed from the CD-ROM release.
Fission Mailed: One Easter Egg in the game has Gillian attempt to pick up a girl, claiming that, as a JUNKER, he can protect her from Snatchers...only for said girl to reply that she doesn't need protection as she's already been snatched! Metal's motion sensor goes off and the line "Game Over?" comes up complete with the Game Over music...only for a very much alive Gillian to wake up a moment later, seemingly having dreamt it up or lost consciousness.
Flashback Effects: Elijah Modnar's flashbacks are shown in a blood-red negative exposure, like an undeveloped roll of film.
Floating Timeline: All the dates in the Sega-CD were moved five years ahead from the Japanese version. Thus, the date of the Catastrophe was moved from June 6, 1991 to 1996 (allowing the translation to shoehorn a 666 reference), while the actual year the game takes place was changed from 2042 to 2047. This was because the English version was made in 1994, three years after the date when the Catastrophe took place in the Japanese version.
Fortune Teller: A sort of Easter Egg. She's actually just a hacker who uses Gillian's retinal patterns and pulls up his personal info.
Forgotten Phlebotinum: There's an easy, portable test to determine if someone is a Snatcher or not. It requires a search warrant to use on civilians, but in true Blade Runner fashion, apparently no one thought to regularly test the people who are in charge of destroying Snatchers.
Fun with Acronyms: Who wouldn't want a business card stating their occupation as a "Japanese Undercover Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Ranger"? Probably the ones who would want "Naked Kind" in the middle, vis-a-vis the Japanese versions.
Judgment Uninfected Naked Kind & Execute Ranger, for the sake of completeness.
He can also call a prostitute with another number from the same source. She correctly deduces that the reason people in the game can only talk about sex in double speak is because someone is watching them.
Going by the Matchbook: Finding a matchbook from the Outer Heaven bar is one of the red herring clues to the identity of the Snatcher that has infiltrated the JUNKERs.
Gratuitous Foreign Language: The Benson Snatcher's final words in the original 8-bit versions is said in Russian (Желаю вам усцеха, "I wish you luck").
The Great Politics Mess-Up: The game predicts the destruction of the Soviet Union by an airborne biological weapon in 1991 in the Japanese version and 1996 in the English version. Never mind the fact that the Soviet Union was dissolved by the time the English version was released in 1994. (The original PC88 version was released three years before the Union's collapse.)
Gross-Up Close-Up: When you find the decaying skeletons. Bit of advice: when exploring the hospital, don't eat anything. Just trust us on this.
Hair Color Dissonance: Katrina's hair color is blue in the game, even though it's listed as "dark brown" in the Snatcher Pilot Disk and colored that way in most official illustrations (as shown in the cover above), while Lisa Nielsen (a witness in Act 1) is described as being raven-haired by Metal, despite her hair being green in-game.
He Knows About Timed Hits: Mika explains how to shoot your Blaster at the start of the game. Metal Gear will take over in explaining other new game controls for the rest of the game after you meet him.
Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Gillian shoving his gun barrel into Ivan's mouth. Even after more or less concluding that Ivan isn't a Snatcher, Gillian STILL feels the need to shove the blaster into Ivan's mouth.
Jump Scare: Used liberally. Jamie answering the videophone while wearing a Snatcher mask is the most glaring example. Also, once you reach Queens Hospital with Random, be prepared once you see that an inactive Snatcher you could've sworn was there a second ago has disappeared.
Klingon Promotion: More or less on Gillian's part. In Act 3, Metal points out that Gillian is now the highest ranking authority JUNKER has...having killed a Snatcher posing as Chief Cunningham, the real one being dead for a few months.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Gillian and Jamie were originally Soviet scientists working alongside Elijah Mondar. Unbeknownst to Jamie, Gillian was also a CIA spy.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The original PC88/MSX2 version features people dressed up as Kamen Rider, C3PO, a Xenomorph, Cornelius and Kanegon at the Outer Heaven costume party, along with a bartender dressed as a Metaluna Mutant. The PC Engine version adds Guyver to the mix. They were all replaced by Konami characters in subsequent versions (including the bartender, who dresses up as the Golem from Salamander in the 32-bit versions), avoiding this trope altogether.
Love Makes You Evil: The reason Elijah Modnar continues the Snatcher project long after it was suppose to be discontinued. When he grows too old though, it later replaced by delusions of World Domination.
Misanthrope Supreme: To say that Modnar took it hard when Jamie rejected him is an understatement. He leaked the Lucifer-Alpha virus to kill off everyone on the continent, then when that didn't take, developed a horde of robots with which to repopulate the Earth.
Nightmare Face: A recurring theme with the Snatchers, whose faces usually end up in bad shape.
No Animals Were Harmed: Averted. Gillian overhears Katrina's Evil-Detecting Dog (Alice) barking at the trees outside, but it turns out to be nothing. Later on, however, Alice's disemboweled body is found in the yard, having been thrown through a closed window. In the Japanese version, her body is still twitching.
No Ending: In the 8-bit releases, the planned ending was actually left out due to time constraints, though most of the story is wrapped up with a blatant Sequel Hook. This was fixed for the CD-ROM versions.
Non-Standard Game Over: There is an optional scene where Gillian can interact with a woman in Alton Plaza. However, she reveals herself to be a snatcher and kills Gillian, prompting the text: GAME OVER?, to appear along with the music. Gillian wakes from it, realizing it was a nightmare, subverting this.
Obvious Beta - The original PC-88 and MSX2 versions released in 1988 were rushed for release due to the fact that Kojima and his team were taking too long to finish the game. The originally planned ending was omitted from this version and the game ended on a much darker note than originally planned. Elements from the unused ending appeared in 1990's SD Snatcher before the full ending was added in the later disc-based remakes of the original Snatcher.
Oddly Small Organization: JUNKER consists of a mechanic, a "Chief" who does nothing but sit at his desk all day, a glorified receptionist, and only two agents who are on active duty. There were supposedly four other guys, but they were killed or incapacitated just before the start of the game.
By the end of the game, Gillian has become JUNKER's top-ranking officerby default!
Production Throwback: Since this was Kojima's first game after the original Metal Gear, there's quite a few references throw in. Most notably Gillian's robotic partner, who was built after the "Metal Gear menace from the late 20th century" and whose leitmotif theme is the "Theme of Tara" from the original MSX game. Other references includes Benson Cunningham's former membership within FOXHOUND, the Outer Heaven nightclub, and the inclusion of Dr. Pettrovich as one of the developers behind the Frankenstein Project that created the Snatchers.
Removed from the Picture: Harry's childhood photograph of himself cuts out the portion showing his parents. It turns out that his parents are none other than Gillian and Jaime themselves, who were kept in cryogenic stasis for decades, causing them to be physically younger than their now 55-year-old son.
Rubber Band A.I.: Doing well in the practice gun shooting sections makes the in-game sequences almost impossible. It is recommended to do intentionally poorly to keep the difficulty down. And even then, if you're running the game on an emulator (and, let's face it, in this day and age, you probably are), you'll either have to be a keyboard magician or, if you're using your mouse as a Light Gun stand-in, aim high with your cursor to compensate for that tiny arrow not lining up directly with your shots.
Say Your Prayers: You have the option of saying this to Metal Gear when Gillian's turbocycle goes haywire. Averted when Gillian admits to Metal that he's not the praying type. Still, it does open up the command that allows for escape, and a delightful fourth wall observation.
Sdrawkcab Name: Random Hajile's name is "Elijah Modnar" spelled backward, a reference to Random being a bioroid created in Elijah's image.
Shout-Out Theme Naming: In the Japanese version several locations in the game were named after popular 80's bands such as the Joy Division costume shop (which became Plato's Cavern in the English version), the Alphaville computer (Alpha-One in the English version), and Queen Hospital (Queens in the English version).
Signs of Disrepair: There's a sign in Central Plaza saying GREAT MEALS. Also, "QUEENS" Hospital reads as "OLEEN" Hospital thanks to a partially burnt-out neon sign.
Sinister Subway: The Snatchers use this to navigate around the city in the daytime.
Skele Bot 9000: Judging by Hideo Kojima's unabashed love for James Cameron, saying that the Snatchers are based on the Terminator isn't that big of a stretch.
Spell My Name with an S: Several characters have their names spelled differently depending on which version of the game. Notably, Random Hajile is known as Randam Hajile in Japan.
Translation Correction: JUNKER originally stood for "Judgment Uninfected Naked Kind & Execution Ranger", a random string of English words that doesn't have any coherent meaning together. In the Sega CD version, it was changed to the (slightly) more sensible "Japanese Undercover Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Ranger".
Two-Keyed Lock: Actually a three-keyed lock. To unlock the rooms in Queens Hospital requires the input of Gillian, Random, and Metal Gear simultaneously.
Unwinnable by Mistake: Averted. There are two parts in act 1 of the game where the player can be locked out from progressing further in the game for doing the wrong thing until a certain amount of turns are passed. Those being the player hitting on Katrina (never mind that her father just died!), and showing the JUNKER ID at Outer Heaven. It's basically a video game equivalent to a time out.
Updated Re-release: Since the original PC-88 and MSX2 versions released in 1988 were Obvious Betas, Kojima and his team saw fit to remake the game four years later as a CD-ROM game for the PC Engine, adding not only the originally planned ending, but also improved graphics and voice acting. The PC Engine version was released as Snatcher CD-ROMantic. The later Sega CD localization and PS/Saturn rereleases are based on this version.
Videogame Caring Potential: There is an optional scene involving an elderly man hanging with the freemen. One of them explained that the old man is sick. You have the option to call the video phone number provided to arrange for the old man's son to pick him up. Doing so nets you a scene featuring a minor crowning moment of heartwarming.
As tempting as hitting on Katrina is, if you don't do it, she'll start to warm up to Gillian when you did all you can for investigating her home.
Katrina: Can't you stay here a little longer?
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Not exactly cruel, but given the situation, if you try to hit on Katrina (even though her dad died moments ago), she locks you out of her home until a certain number of turns unlocks it.
Similarly (albeit, not really cruel), showing the JUNKER ID to Isabella nets a similar result.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In the PC Engine version, Mika and Katrina are nowhere to be seen in the ending and not indication is made of what became of them since their last appearance. The expanded ending in the Sega CD localization clears up what happened to them and they both make an unvoiced cameo at the end of the 32-bit versions as well.
You Didn't Ask: Metal Gear knows everything about Gillian and Jamie's pasts, but is forbidden from talking about it.