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Video Game / Metal Gear: Ghost Babel

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Snake and Chris.
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, known outside of Japan as Metal Gear Solid, is a 2D Metal Gear game released for the Game Boy Color in 2000. Despite the game's overseas title, Ghost Babel is not a port of the actual Metal Gear Solid, but has enough of the same elements to be considered a reformulated game.note  The story is non-canonical and takes place in an Alternate Continuity set seven years after the events of the original Metal Gear.

The Gindra Liberation Front, a separatist group in Central Africa, has set a stronghold in the fortress of Galuade, the place formerly known as Outer Heaven. When the GLF hijacks GANDER, a new Metal Gear model under development by the U.S. military, Solid Snake is called back into action and sent to Galuade to neutralize the threat. There he meets Chris Jenner (no, not THAT one), a surviving member of a Delta Force team sent to to recover GANDER from the GLF, who reveals that the guerrillas are being aided by the surviving members of Black Chamber, a defunct U.S. Special Forces unit that once rivaled FOXHOUND. Throughout the course of his mission, Snake fights the members of Black Chamber and finds out there's more to the terrorists' objective than Gindra's sovereignty.

The game design is based closely on Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, but with elements introduced in Metal Gear Solid. For example, the screen scrolls instead of flipping between sectors and Snake can flatten himself against walls to see ahead like in the PlayStation game. The player's inventory is also handled similarly to Metal Gear Solid.

Metal Gear: Ghost Babel provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The ending provides hint of a sequel, as Snake swears to take out John Parker and Steve Gardner for their involvement in Project Babel. However, this plot point was never followed up due to this alternate continuity being abandoned after this one game. KCE Japan (later known as Kojima Productions) would end up making the Boktai series on the GBA and DS instead, and there wouldn't be another Metal Gear game on a Nintendo portable until Snake Eater 3D on the 3DS, which was a port of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
  • Abusive Parents: Weasel's father.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Galuade's sewer system. Justified as the Gindran region frequently suffers from massive storms and needs the space to prevent the water level from getting even higher than it already does.
  • Action Girl: Chris and Sophie N'dram, respectively your Delta Force support and a boss who attacks you in a helicopter gunship.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: With the exception of Pyro Bison and possibly Brian McBride, most of the members of Black Chamber give a somewhat sad story of their past when killed, and in the case of their leader, Black Arts Viper, he ends up apologizing to his deceased unit for failing to avenge them when Snake defeats him and shuts down the satellite uplink of GANDER.
  • Alertness Blink: ! and ?, as always.
  • All There in the Manual: GANDER's name isn't actually stated in the game; it's only mentioned on the official site and in the Japanese manual.
  • Alternate Continuity: There's nothing in the promotional material that explicitly states that Ghost Babel is not part of the mainline Metal Gear canon. However, the game's plot clearly doesn't line up with what happens in the original Metal Gear Solid, with both games involving Solid Snake being brought out of retirement from Alaska and both games having him meet Mei Ling for the first time. Oddly enough, the description for the Five-SeveN pistol in Metal Gear Solid 4 references Snake as having undertaken a mission to Galuade.
  • Angry Guard Dog: They show up in one stage as a step up from the regular guards, with better hearing (able to hear you walking near them regardless of terrain), better sight (longer range when they're awake) and able to sniff you out (so hiding in dense foliage won't work as well).
  • The Artifact: Snake's MGS1 sneaking suit was already iconic even by 2000, so it makes sense thematically for him to continue wearing it for this game. Aesthetically, a blue-and-gray mixture of a wetsuit and cold-weather gear doesn't make any sense for a mission in which Snake spends approximately half his time sneaking through the lush green jungles or dirt-brown mountains of Central Africa.
  • Artificial Limb: Black Arts Viper lost an arm in the past.
  • Artistic License – Military: Delta Force doesn't recruit women. Can double as Fridge Brilliance once it's revealed that this was part of Chris' cover, but bounces back into the trope because nobody in the upper ranks raises foul over this inconsistency.
  • Attack Animal: Slasher Hawk has a pet hawk that he uses as a third method of attack.
  • Back Tracking: The cardboard box transport system in the barracks.
  • Blackout Basement: Metal Gear GANDER consumes a lot of energy, draining said energy from certain structures when needed, leading to a stage played entirely with the help of night vision or thermal goggles.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A good deal of Weasel's advice. They start off battlefield-related, then turn into an advice given to the player, such as Weasel mentioning that unnecessary sounds are lethal on the field, then telling the player not to forget to use headphones or keep the Game Boy's volume down when in public space.
  • Bulungi: Gindra.
  • Call-Back: You can find the wreckage of the original TX-55 Metal Gear in the 100th floor basement.
  • Canon Character All Along: Initially, the post-game VR Missions are just thought to be fun, non-canon missions under the pretense of being training missions (even with the game itself having no place in canon). No. 4's last line reveals you were actually playing as Jack, a.k.a. Raiden.
  • Catching Some Z's: GLF soldiers, complete with small ZZZ's coming out of their heads.
  • Competitive Multiplayer: Contains the first instance of a multiplayer mode in the series. The "VS Mode", in which two Snakes (one in a red sneaking suit) compete to see who collects the most disks.
  • Continuity Cameo: In addition to Snake himself, Mei Ling and Campbell are both part of Snake's support crew in this game, while Big Boss, Gray Fox, and Meryl Silverburgh are all mentioned at different points.
  • Costume Porn: The bandana on Snake's sprite is incredibly well-animated; it looks better than in the PlayStation game.
  • Descent Into Madness: The reason why Marionette Owl became who he is.
  • The Dragon: Sophie to General Augustine Eguabon.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Chris does it to maintain her cover, and you have to identify her thanks to her red beret and tied back blonde hair.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A hidden game mode has the player controlling a VR-trained soldier who is going through tougher versions of the same stages from the main game. When the training is complete, the soldier's name is revealed to be Jack.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The maintenance base is 100 floors down, in a Continuity Nod to the original Metal Gear. It even has the room where the TX-55 Metal Gear used to be, complete with its remains. It also expands on these floors; you visit the 49th, 50th, and the bottom three floors.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: The fight with Viper at the end, where you have a limited amount of time to defeat him before the elevator reaches the surface and the remains of Metal Gear GANDER send a signal to several nuclear-equipped satellites.
  • Expy
    • Black Chamber to FOXHOUND. They're both an elite special forces unit led by an evil counterpart of Snake (Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Solid, Black Arts Viper in Ghost Babel). Much like Dead Cell in Metal Gear Solid 2, this is deliberate; Black Chamber was created by the U.S. Government to go on missions that FOXHOUND could no longer perform due to its increased notoriety after Operation Intrude N313.
      • Speaking of Dead Cell, Black Chamber's motivations and backstory line up with theirs more than they do FOXHOUND, as both were groups created in response to FOXHOUND that are now looking for revenge after their government tried to have them killed. Since both games were developed at around the same time, it's possible that the concept for Black Chamber influenced Dead Cell, or vice versa.
    • GANDER to REX. Although GANDER has another rail gun for no reason other than it looks cool, and has a weakness similar to the original Metal Gear. It could be said that GANDER is based on both REX and the original TX-55.
    • Also Chris to Meryl, Jimmy to Otacon, Weasel to Master Miller (who even uses the same frequency number) and Brian McBride to Nastasha Romanenko and Decoy Octopus.
  • Fictional Country: Gindra, a former French colony in Africa.
  • Foreshadowing: Actually foreshadows the main series despite being in a different timeline; Snake and Jimmy have a conversation where Jimmy says that Snake doesn't look as young as he says he is.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: GLF soldiers in gas-filled rooms, naturally. Some of them later in the game also double as elite mooks.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Even though this game made some concessions to fit the E rating, the only content warning given is "animated violence". By the ESRB's standards, they should have also mentioned things like "mild profanity", "mature humor" (mostly due to one comment by Weasel), "alcohol mention" (right at the beginning of the game, no less!)... and despite all their efforts with the fogger, Snake still smokes a cigarette in the opening cutscene. Its ELSPA rating was the much saner (though still eyebrow-raising) E11+.note 
  • Guns Akimbo: Metal Gear GANDER is a variant on the REX model, except with the radome replaced by a second rail gun.
  • Human Mail: 2nd floor of the barracks. You have to use different-coloured boxes to be sent to different areas, sometimes during transit.
  • Implacable Man: Snake and Viper.
  • It's Raining Men: How Snake gets into Galuade.
  • Kill It with Fire: Pyro Bison.
  • Kill Sat: GANDER's ultimate weapon is an uplink system that allows for seven nuclear satellites to rain destruction on the Earth.
  • Killer Doll: Marionette Owl's main weapons are two Bunraku dolls (named Osan and Koharu) with built-in knife-throwing defense mechanisms.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Weasel calls pretty much everyone else out on their penchant for melodrama. This being a Metal Gear game, there's no shortage of that.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Can get a bit confusing. At first, the big bad looks like it's General Eugabon. Then Viper reveals his plan. Then Eugabon reveals that his plan has been to use Viper all along. Then Viper reveals that his plan was to use Eguabon. In the end, the man behind it all was actually Gardner in an attempt to get GANDER in his authority again.
  • Market-Based Title: Known as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel in Asia, and Metal Gear Solid everywhere else.
  • Mission Control: As per usual in a Metal Gear game. You get Colonel Campbell, Mei Ling, who once again explains your radar (although this time it's more like the radar from Metal Gear 2), McBride, a CIA agent sent to supervise the operation, and Weasel, a mercenary who knows stuff about mercenaries. Snake is immediately suspicious of Weasel, and when it becomes clear there's a mole within them, everybody is fighting amongst themselves as to who it could be. It was also initially believed that Chris was the mole after it became apparent that she lied about her status or even her job. It turns out Weasel, Chris and McBride are all moles for different agencies, but Chris never really does anything to interfere with Snake's mission, and Weasel pulls a Heel–Face Turn at the end by killing McBride and letting the rest of the team go.
  • Mistaken Identity: Snake, when he sees a woman boarding a Havoc, thinks it is Chris, and ends up fighting her. After it crashes, he finds the crash site and gets to the woman only to discover that she is not Chris, but Sophie.
  • The Mole: Chris for Parker, although she did apologize to Snake later on. Also, McBride, who in actuality was the last surviving member of Black Chamber besides Viper, and Weasel, an agent of the true enemy, Gardner, but Weasel pulls a Heel–Face Turn in the end.
  • Mr. Exposition: All of No. 4's dialogue consists of elaborations on the events of the game, including details that never came up in the actual storyline.
  • No Smoking: Snake's cigarettes are replaced by a conspicuously shaped smoke emitting device called a "Fogger". This applies even in the Japanese version, where the item is given the less embarrassing moniker of "smoke emitter". This is slightly subverted in the beginning. If you look closely at the opening cutscene before it flashes back, you'll notice that Snake is smoking a cigarette.
  • Pacifist Run: Possible, except for the bosses, so there is no way of making Pyro Bison eat his words.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Slasher Hawk carries a pair of six-foot long, bladed, metal boomerangs, one of which has an aerodynamically improbable zigzag trajectory.
  • Playing with Fire: Pyro Bison loves this, to the point that even him essentially committing suicide by immolating himself has him screaming in ecstasy.
  • Red Herring: After Jimmy reveals not only that he was saved by another surviving member of Delta Force, but in fact, Chris wasn't even among the Delta Force squad sent to Galuade, Snake and the others began to suspect that Chris was the fifth Black Chamber member that Pyro Bison alluded to. The fact that Chris (or rather, a woman who bears a strong resemblance to Chris) was seen boarding the Havoc and then fighting Snake in it, made the suspicion towards her even more sound. Turns out, Chris was not the fifth Black Chamber mole, but an agent of General Parker sent to delete all records of the Babel Project. The actual fifth Black Chamber member was actually McBride, who went as far as to change his name, paperwork, and even go through plastic surgery just to keep up the act until the time came.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Played with. Ghost Babel implies that Solid Snake is Big Boss' natural son rather than a clone, as the game makes no mention of the Les Enfants Terribles project that led to the creation of him and his brothers (Liquid and Solidus, who also go completely unmentioned) in MGS1.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Snake, Weasel, Viper and the rest of the Black Chamber.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The music that plays when Snake parachutes into Galuade is the intro theme from the MSX2 version of Metal Gear, while the alert theme is the same one from Metal Gear 2.
    • Stage 10, Mission 3 has the test subject climbing a mountain while barrels roll and bounce down in a familiar manner. Sadly there's no gorilla to fight at the top.
  • Show Within a Show: Snake can listen to an in-universe radio drama (conveyed only through text because of hardware limitations) called IdeaSpy 2.5, being a tongue-in-cheek parody of Martini flavour Spy Fiction. Unfortunately, this is not available in the North American version. It would later be defictionalized into an actual Audio Drama, featuring Hideo Kojima himself as the voice of Two-Han. This audio drama would receive Call Backs in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, as songs from the drama CD were included in the game as listenable songs in Snake's iPod.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Black Chamber and GANDER during the intro. Marionette Owl toys with this, as he and his two geisha dolls appear identical when looking at them through thermal-vision goggles - you can tell the difference between them with night vision, but he tosses flashbangs every couple seconds until you switch back to thermal vision.
  • Sole Survivor: Chris of the Delta Force team that was sent in to Galuade. Or is she?
  • The Stinger: After beating all the bonus VR missions, text appears that namedrops the player as "Jack", which would hint at Raiden's presence in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Marionette Owl. Justified as he has some sort of mutation that allows him to see in the dark on par with an owl even with them. This also results in his eyes shining in the dark, thus necessitating them to keep himself disguised effectively.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: A subtle example. Ghost Babel has the same initials as "Game Boy", the platform it was released on.
  • Taking the Bullet: After Jimmy and Chris get split up, Jimmy finds another survivor of Delta Force. By the time Snake finds him again, though, said survivor saved Jimmy's life by taking a bullet for him.
  • Title Drop: Not so much. There is a Project Babel that features in the plot, but no one ever does say the words "Ghost Babel". There may be an oblique reference to the title with No. 4 calling Metal Gear "the phantom of Big Boss" (amusingly enough).
    • The IdeaSpy 2.5 radio drama drops its title in a appropriately corny manner, with the final words of the show being 714 yelling for 2.5 by referring to him with his full title for the first time.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The cardboard box puzzle in the barracks. Why is there such a complicated and unnecessary packaging system in Galuade, anyway?
  • The Unfought: Brian McBride.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Sort of, with Pyro Bison telling you the number of enemies you killed and calling Snake out on his sins.
  • The Voice: No. 5, the Mission Control for the VR Missions, doesn't have a portrait. Only his words appear on the screen.
  • Wham Line: At the end of the VR Missions, the last word out of No. 4's mouth makes the entire game a bit more meaningful.
    "Get some rest for now... Jack."
  • What the Hell, Player?: In trying to free Jimmy, if you blow up the wall that is not adjacent to his cell, he'll call you on it.
    "Dude, what're you doing?"
  • Would Hit a Girl: Marionette Owl was hunted by the FBI for his gruesome killings of women.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl:
    • Snake has his gun on Sophie after beating her in a man vs. chopper fight, but refrains from shooting under the pretext that he is out of ammo. Granted, Snake prefers to not kill people when he has a choice, but she calls him on it.
    • Punching or shooting the disguised Chris results in her death (and a mission failure).
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Great! You saved Jimmy. Now let's just get him out of those handcuffs... Oh wait, there's a microphone in them that has recorded the entire conversation. And they're also explosive.