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Visual Novel / Snatcher

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All controversy begins with DOUBT.

This story is dedicated to all those cyberpunks who fight against injustice and corruption every day of their lives.

On June 6, 1996,note  a massive explosion takes place at a government research lab near Moscow. The accident causes a deadly artificial virus (known as Lucifer-Alpha) to be released into the atmosphere, resulting in the infection and subsequent death of 80% of those living in Eastern Europe and Asia末half of the world's population. This tragedy末the greatest loss of human life in history末is retroactively named "The Catastrophe."

Fifty years later, sophisticated bioroid robots, colloquially known as "Snatchers," begin appearing in the artificial island city of Neo Kobe off the Japanese coast. One by one, these beings start killing off the city's population, and with the help of their advanced artificial skin, are able to seamlessly replace their victims in society at large. Nobody knows exactly where Snatchers come from or what they ultimately seek to accomplish. However, a man named Gillian Seed, who is an amnesiac discovered in Siberia by the Russian military three years before the story begins, is convinced that his past is somehow linked to the Snatchers. With his marriage in crisis and his memories all but vanished, Gillian arrives in Neo Kobe City in December 2047note  to put a stop to the Snatcher menace, learn the truth behind their invasion, and hopefully, uncover his own past as well.

Snatcher is an adventure game written and directed by Hideo Kojima early in his career, set in a Cyberpunk universe (with clear Blade Runner overtones), and with all of the quirkiness Kojima eventually became known for. It uses a menu-driven interface similar to other Japanese adventure games, with occasional shooting sequences that uses a 3x3 grid (originally designed for aiming with a numeral keypad). First released in Japan for the PC-88 and MSX2 computer platforms in 1988, these two early versions were text-only and ended the story at Act 2, which was intended to set up a sequel that never got made. Instead, Konami ended up remaking the game as an RPG for the MSX2 titled SD Snatcher in 1990, which depicted the characters in a chibi art-style, but also concluded the story in its own manner. Kojima would later revisit the original Snatcher in 1992, with a remake for the PC Engine Super CD-ROM2 add-on titled Snatcher CD-ROMantic. This version redrew the game's visuals to better suit the console's specifications, and added voice acting to certain key scenes in the story, with the game's soundtrack being composed of a mix of chip-generated and redbook music. It also adds a third act that concludes the story set up by the previous two acts, which drew some of its plot elements from SD Snatcher's extended ending.

Konami decided to localize Snatcher to English with a Sega CD port released exclusively in North America and Europe in 1994, although Kojima was not involved with this version (having moved on from Snatcher by this point to work on his next project). Because of its late release during the Sega CD's lifespan, only 25,000 copies were manufactured. Original copies are now collector's items, both because of the aforementioned small print run, and also as a result of being the only official English localization of the game. Snatcher would receive another set of re-releases in 1996 for the newly-released 32-bit consoles, the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, with these versions once again being specific to Japan.

A Spiritual Successor titled Policenauts was released for various platforms. The Snatchers also make an appearance in the "Jamais Vu" mission of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, in which they're fought by a certain cyborg ninja. A trailer for the mission can be found here.

Snatcher provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Queens Hospital is almost completely empty once Gillian, Metal and Random arrive, save for Chin Shu Oh, his Snatchers and their snatch victims in the basement.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Elijah Modnar's younger design was redone for the Sega CD version by Tomiharu Kinoshita, as it was felt that the design used for the PC Engine version was a bit too unremarkable looking. This does create a minor continuity issue, since Elijah's present-day elderly design was not changed to better match the new design.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: At one point, the main characters are exploring a morgue, and dismiss a skeleton hanging from the wall as just a skeletal specimen, likely being used as a model for medical work. In the 8-bit versions, it just looks like a skeleton. The 16 and 32-bit versions give the skeleton an unmistakeable silvery sheen, making it very obvious to the player that it's a Snatcher, and making the lack of suspicion on the part of the characters seem rather bizarre.
  • Adventure Duo: Somewhat inverted as the main character is the Handsome Lech, and the Robot Buddy is the down to earth one.
  • Advertised Extra: Isabella Velvet is one of the few characters outside the JUNKER crew to get a bio in the manual. Despite this, she's a One-Scene Wonder who doesn't even have a speaking part in the console versions.
  • Aerith and Bob: Gillian, Jamie, Harry, Jean, Mika, Benson, Elijah, Katrina...Random? It's later revealed to be Elijah's full Sdrawkcab Name, as Random was built using his likeness.
  • After Action Patch Up: If Gillian gets hit during the first action scene at the abandoned factory, Metal will inject him with nanomachines afterwards in order to heal his wounds.
  • After the End: A staple of cyberpunk. During the Catastrophe, Lucifer-Alpha kills off half of the human race.
  • Alternate Continuity: Compared to Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and all the Metal Gear games that followed it. In Snatcher, the events of the first Metal Gear happened by means of explaining what Metal Gear's namesake is. However, given that Solid Snake is set in 1999, and the Catastrophe happens before that in the Snatcher continuity, the Metal Gear franchise pretty much ignores Snatcher aside from giving it an occasional Shout-Out.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: While the game itself is hardcore regardless which version, the Sega CD version had a few changes to make it a bit less goofy.
    • When the time bomb planted on Little John is about go off, Gillian has a comedic shocked face in the PC Engine version. The Sega CD version uses a different portrait for Gillian where he is still horrified at what he sees, but is drawn more seriously.
    • The sequence in Act 2 when Katrina goes missing is a bit less Played for Laughs in the Sega CD version. Upon entering Gillian's bathroom, the Japanese versions depict female underwear on the floor, suggesting Katrina's presence in the shower. The Sega CD version removes the underwear from the bathroom floor, therefore adding a bit more suspense, since a first-time player isn't really sure of who or what is in the shower booth.
    • When Random saves Gillian's life for the second time, a cutscene shows Gillian comically chasing Random's motorcycle in the earlier Japanese versions of the game, as Metal pulls him along by his trenchcoat. The Sega CD version changes this to show Gillian clinging onto the back of the motorcycle for dear life (even though the dialogue for this scene apparently wasn't updated to match). This change was carried over to the subsequent Saturn and PlayStation ports.
    • After Random sets off his explosives in an effort to destroy Chin Shu Oh and his Snatchers in Queens Hospital, Gillian and Metal end up being stuck inside a dark air duct. When Metal turns on his searchlight, it shows Gillian in a awkward pose with a frustrated expression and his legs sticking out in the earlier versions. This shot was cut completely removed from the Sega CD version and in the later 32-bit versions it was replaced by a new shot of disembodied bioroid head that flew by them as a result of the explosion. However, they repurpose the awkard posing during the maze sections if you land on a wrong section.
  • Alcohol Hic: Harry, while drunkenly mourning Gibson's death.
  • Alien Blood: Snatchers leak green "blood" out of their mouths once defeated, which, as Metal assures Gillian, is confirmation that they won't be getting back up.
  • 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. (Typical for computer games of The '80s, the home computer versions both share the same manual, which is very detailed and elaborate even for the era.) 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.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: By the time Gillian realizes that Chief Cunningham has been snatched, said Snatcher has attacked Mika, fatally wounded Harry and has more or less taken over Junker HQ. Well, when you only have three people staffing your HQ...
  • Always Night: Subverted in the ending sequence, when daylight finally returns to Neo Kobe. Just in time for a large chunk of the city to get blown off the map.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The plot of Snatcher takes place in the days leading up to Christmas. "Jingle Bells" plays in Alton Plaza, and Napoleon even greets you in a Santa outfit at one point.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of Act 3, Gillian takes off for Moscow, in order to destroy the automated Snatcher factory underneath the Kremlin.
  • 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.
  • Audible Gleam: Happens in Snatcher CD-ROMantic, and in the 32-bit versions, when Gillian picks up his blaster for the first time.
    • Subverted in the Sega CD version. The weapon still gleams, but a cocking noise is heard instead.
  • 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 his birthday.
  • Badass Biker: Random Hajile, a crackshot bounty hunter who's a dead ringer for Sting's character in Dune (1984).
  • Badass Longcoat: Standard JUNKER attire. Both Gillian and his predecessor Jean wear one.
  • Big Applesauce: Neo Kobe is considered a melting pot of various races, like real-life New York. This would explain why some of the Asian characters (eg. Napoleon, or the food vendors) sound more American than Japanese. (The Catastrophe of 50 years earlier, which wiped out the majority of the world's Asian population, is a subtle contributing factor to this.)
  • Big Damn Heroes: How Random Hajile makes his first onscreen appearance.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: Metal Gear's introductory scene. Doubles as a Mythology Gag.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Harry Benson as he dies from wounds inflicted by Snatcher-Cunningham.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The Snatchers turn out to be using an abandoned church as their base. Subverted in the sense that there's no actual battle or fight; the church simply ends up getting obliterated by a giant space laser.
  • Bounty Hunter: With the rise of Snatcher activities and how understaffed JUNKER tends to be, bounty hunters are encouraged to help JUNKER out and rewarded for their efforts. Random Hajile claims to be one, though the reveal that his personal data on file is bogus casts some initial suspicion on him.
  • Bowdlerise: The first three versions of the game, released only in Japan for the NEC PC-8801, MSX2, and PC Engine Super CD-ROM2, are totally uncensored. The game was subsequently ported to three more consoles (Sega CD, Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn), all of which were toned down in various ways.
    • By far the biggest difference between the Sega CD version (the sole official English version) and the Japanese versions is the staggering amount of sexual harassment available to the player. Whenever Gillian encounters a woman in the Japanese versions of Snatcher, the player is variously given the choice to ogle their breasts, grope them, expose Gillian's genitalia to them, "snatch" their underwear, sniff their underwear, and so on. Gillian makes it clear that, even though he's racing to save these women from the Snatcher menace, he can still make time for some real action on the side. (In other words, Gillian behaves like a textbook Chivalrous Pervert.) Almost all of this is gone from the Sega CD version, where Gillian instead comes off more like a bumbling Handsome Lech.
    • Jean-Jack Gibson's corpse is modified in almost all versions in some way. The Sega CD version inverts this by twisting his torso so you can get a clear look at his bloody neck stump. While the later CD versions keep this change, the violence is further downplayed by moving his head a few feet from his body, and quickly shifting into sepiatone.
    • Alice's dead body no longer twitches in any version after the PC-Engine release, although her very fatal wound is still visible in the Sega CD version.note  In the two versions after, her body is turned around to hide her wounds from view.
    • In the first three versions, Snatcher-Lisa's dress flies open after defeating her, exposing her breasts. Starting with the Sega CD version, her dress stays on.
    • The shot of Cunningham's maggot-eaten corpse in the Queens Hospital basement remains untouched in all versions except the PlayStation version, where it's clumsily covered up with a mosaic effect.
    • Katrina's age was bumped up from 14 to 18, which makes Gillian's (largely untouched) Handsome Lechery all the creepier in retrospect.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: It's Hideo Kojima... What did you expect?
    • 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 thereafter, Gillian complains his ears are ringing.
    Metal: That's because you left the volume turned up.
  • The Cameo: Played with, as said cameos are Outer Heaven customers in cosplay. The PC-8801, MSX2 and PC Engine versions featured various lawyer-baiting sci-fi movie cameos, while the later console versions played it more safe with Konami characters.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Outer Heaven, Gillian mentions that he remembers playing Castlevania in his youth, only to realize that he's far too young for that to be true. Turns out he isn't.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Played very straight in the Japanese versions. Subverted to the point of Played for Laughs in the Sega CD version.
  • Classified Information:
    • Trying to look up Gillian or Jamie's personal files in JORDAN won't work, and will make Gillian audibly frustrated. Metal comments that nobody within JUNKER HQ actually possesses the security clearance needed to view the files. Nevertheless, Metal doesn't mind hinting that he himself knows everything, but won't talk. Metal finally spills everything he knows at the beginning of Act 3, after Gillian becomes the highest-ranking JUNKER by default.
    • Well into the game, the player can approach Chief Cunningham to ask for details about Gillian's mysterious past. Cunningham turns Gillian down flat, claiming that the information is top-secret.
  • Concealing Canvas: The vase picture in Cunningham's office conceals a button via an optical illusion. Behind said painting is an image of Red Square, providing a possible origin for the Snatchers and clues as to their habits.
  • Console Cameo:
    • In the 8-bit versions of Snatcher, the computer used by Jean-Jack Gibson is either a PC-8801 or an MSX2, depending on the platform the game is running on. In later versions, Gibson has a PC-68, a fictional home computer.
    • 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."
    • At 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.)
  • Contrived Coincidence: During Act 2, Gillian and Metal need to decode some obscure Chinese characters on a Snatcher's medical record. These characters turn out to be special Chinese symbols that represent chemical elements. In a remarkable stroke of luck, Napoleon, Gillian's informant, just happens to be Chinese and was a chemistry major!
  • Cool Car: Gillian's Turbocycle. Contrary to the name, it's actually a 3-wheeled hover car, with joysticks instead of a steering wheel.
  • Creator In-Joke: Elijah Modnar refers to Lucifer-Alpha as "a type-RA011 virus." RA-011 was the catalog number assigned to SD Snatcher by Konami.
  • Crusading Widow: Jean is out to avenge his wife, who was slain by the Snatchers.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Somewhat justified in Queens Hospital. The first floor waiting area is identical to the secret basement, giving the illusion of two hospitals.
  • Cyberpunk: Heavily inspired by Blade Runner, and a fair-sized Kitchen Sink thereof.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Elijah is rooted to a life-support apparatus, owing to his advanced age.
  • Death Cry Echo: Snatcher!Lisa.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: If you die in one of the shooting sections, you get a choice of either continuing or quitting the game. Continuing resets you back in the shooting part, while quitting re-spawns you back to the last save point. Metal states this if you die in the first shooting section.
    • Totally averted in the original home computer versions. If you get a game over, you have to reset the machine, load your latest save and try again.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Gillian joins JUNKER in hopes of recovering his lost memory.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Katrinia's last line to Gillian will vary in the Sega CD version if you cause her to kick him out of the house. If you do, she will forgive Gillian at the end. Otherwise, she will tell Gillian to be safe if you behave yourself.
  • Director's Cut: Snatcher CD-ROMantic, a version of the game developed for the PC Engine Super CD-ROM2 and released only in Japan in 1992, is this. All other versions of Snatcher are either incomplete (the original 8-bit versions), or censored (the three subsequent versions). Fortunately, the overseas Sega/Mega CD version from 1994 was derived from CD-ROMantic, and despite some minor bowdlerizations, it's a faithful port that doesn't compromise the game's integrity as much as the subsequent 32-bit versions of Snatcher.
  • Dirty Communists: The Snatchers began life as a secret Soviet project.
  • Divided for Publication: Subverted. The original home computer versions of Snatcher were written as a five-act story; the original intention being the original Snatcher would include Acts 1 and 2, while Acts 3 through 5 would be saved for a potential sequel. However, Konami chose not to pursue development of a sequel after Kojima's team took too long to finish the game. Konami would instead conclude the story in SD Snatcher, an RPG spinoff, and its ending would later be adapted back to the later console versions of the original Snatcher, which added a new Act 3.
  • *Drool* Hello: Blood drips from the ceiling in Cunningham's office. The camera slowly pans upwards, and you see Snatcher-Cunningham grinning down at you.
  • Dub Name Change: Much of the game's terminology was altered during the localization process. The acronym for JUNKER was something entirely different and more nonsensical, Gillian's Turbocycle was originally called the Tricycle in the Japanese version (which localizer Jeremy Blaustein considered too childish-sounding), Junker's Rush chewing gum were originally called Junker's High, and many of the locations in the game referenced popular bands at the time such as Joy Division and Queen.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: How well you do on the Junker's Eye practice system determines how hard the game's later shootouts will be. It's possible to make them really easy by deliberately bungling said training system.
  • Dynamic Entry: Random's introductory scene, in which he takes out a Snatcher just a second or two before it twists Gillian's head off.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Dr. Elijah Modnar and his father Pettrovich were mentioned in the original PC-8801 and MSX2 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: JUNKER's in-house supercomputer, JORDAN, is filled with extra information regarding Neo Kobe City, Snatchers, the Catastrophe, and other data.
  • The Engineer: Harry Benson.
  • Evil Laugh: Chin Shu Oh.
  • Evil Smells Bad: It's revealed that Snatchers potentially emit a foul odor due to their flawed, cancerous artificial skin. However, this method of identifying a Snatcher never actually comes into play during the investigation.
  • Explosion Propulsion: Gillian and Metal Gear after outrunning a Time Bomb planted inside an abandoned factory.
  • Exposition Break: The finale is one comparable in length and impact to most Metal Gear games.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: When you encounter Freddy in the end of Act 1. Because the target areas where you need to kill him are undetectable, you really can't beat him. note 
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Harry is actually Gillian's son, having aged normally while his parents were cryogenically frozen for 48 years.
  • 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 Sega CD and later versions.
  • Fanservice: Gillian walks in on Katrina showering on his apartment prompting a Naked Freak-Out following by her kicking him out. When she comes out to talk to him, she has a Modesty Towel wrapped around her hair and body, and even does a Shaking Her Hair Loose when unwrapping the head towel. During the following conversation, the player has the option to try to investigate said towel.
    Gillian: I'm going to need to check out your towel...
    Katrina: Don't you ever quit?! I know what you have in mind!
  • Fantastic Aesop: The plot of Snatcher urges the human race to trust each other more... After besieging us with Ridiculously Human Robots who exploit that trust for the purpose of destabilizing society...and then using that destabilization to fulfill the Big Bad's authoritarian plans.
  • 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: In the 16-bit versions, Elijah Modnar's flashbacks are shown in a blood-red negative exposure, to emphasize the intensity of his emotions at the time.
  • Forced Orgasm: Played for Laughs in Snatcher CD-ROMantic. When Metal Gear, Gillian's Robot Buddy, unknowingly plays a porn video in its system, it ends having some sort of involuntary orgasm on the spot, with Metal's Character Portrait floating up the screen and shaking while moaning until coming sharply back down slowly with a relaxed voice. (This scene was cut from the Sega CD version.)
  • Fortune Teller: In an optional scene, Gillian and Metal meet a fortune teller in Alton Plaza. Subverted. She's actually just a hacker who scans 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
  • Foreshadowing: While being taken to Chief Cunningham's office, Mika describes him as the real Big Boss of Junker HQ. Guess who ends up being an enemy in disguise?
  • 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-à-vis the Japanese versions. Judgment Uninfected Naked Kind & Execute Ranger, for the sake of completeness.
  • Gameplay Grading: The Sega CD port ranks the player depending on how Gillian investigates without acting like an idiot and how good he is at the shooting sections. Mika will give the ranking at the end.
  • Gender Flip: The voice heard at the airport in Act 3. In Japan, it's a girl, but was flipped in the Sega CD ports. In both the PS1 and Saturn ports, they actually kept both voices. This helps out since Neo Kobe is a melting pot, but still Japan.
  • 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 JUNKER's.
  • 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").
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Benson Cunningham's untreated, maggot-infested corpse.
  • 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 while Lisa Nielsen (a witness in Act 1) is described as being raven-haired by Metal, despite her hair being green in-game.
  • Hand Wave: Despite the game's verbosity, especially for its era, the actual mechanics of a "snatch" are never fully explained. In fairness, these details would have no bearing on the plot, but it's still surprising considering how intricate the storyline becomes by the end. Is the target abducted, and then killed at Queens Hospital, the location of their morgue? Are they always snatched in public? We learn that Outer Heaven is a popular location for snatching, but how does this work? An abduction from such a place is plausible, but certainly not an outright murder on the spot? How exactly are targets murdered? (Snatchers not only have Super-Strength, they can also shoot lasers out of their mouths.) Who brings the bodies back to Queens Hospital's morgue? (The target's own Snatcher?) Although certain presumptions can be made, these questions are all technically left unanswered by the game's end.
  • 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.
  • Hover Board: While inspecting the board in Surfer Dude Ivan Rodríguez's apartment, Gillian comments that he must be a recreational "air surfer."
  • Human Popsicle: Gillian and Jamie were both put into suspended animation during the '90s, where they remained for 48 years.
  • Human Shield: Cunningham takes Mika hostage for this purpose.
  • Idiot Ball: During Act 2, Gillian and Metal Gear finally manage to dig out a Snatcher's medical record after a thorough sweep of Queens Hospital, but the file turns out to be written in obscure Chinese characters. Metal, the big-mouth know-it-all robot who's prone to babbling on about pretty much any topic, has never seen these characters before and admits he doesn't have a clue.
  • Infodump: Reading through every entry in JORDAN's Fact File can easily take an hour or more, depending on how fast of a reader you are.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Die and refuse to continue in the final shooting scene, you will hear a voice clip of Gillian saying, "Ugh! No, not here... Jamie, I tried... Ugh..." presumably that he is dying. Accidentally shoot Jamie during the final shooting scene, on the other hand, you will see a cutscene of Gillian cradling Jamie and saying, "Jamie! Jamie! Oh, no, what have I done?" And if that happens, you can't continue and are immediately sent back to the title screen.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Gillian aiming his blaster into Ivan Rodriguez's mouth. Even after confirming that Ivan isn't the Snatcher he's looking for, Gillian is still pissed off enough at getting shot at by Ivan (in a drug-induced paranoid delirium) that he keeps his weapon shoved up Ivan's kisser until it's time to leave.
  • 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.
  • Kill Sat: The phased particle beam, fired from an attack satellite above Neo Kobe City, is used to wipe out Elijah Modnar's base and stop the Snatcher threat. It is preferable to the Kyoto summit's original plan to nuke Neo Kobe off the map, which is what they'd go with if Metal couldn't convince them and if Gillian failed.
  • 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.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Sunlight. Snatchers' artificial skin is very sensitive to UV rays, and develops melanoma quickly if exposed to too much sunlight. Copious use of sunblock in the middle of winter is a telltale sign that someone is a Snatcher.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Gillian and Jamie were originally Soviet scientists working alongside Elijah Modnar. Unbeknownst to Jamie, Gillian was also a CIA spy.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The original 8-bit versions features people dressed up as not-so subtly renamed versions of Kamen Rider, C-3PO, a Xenomorph, Cornelius and Kanegon at the Outer Heaven costume party, along with a bartender dressed as the 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.
  • Let's Play: Done by Slowbeef twice.
  • Lighter and Softer: Played straight in the form of SD Snatcher, an RPG remake of Snatcher done in ''chibi" style and released exclusively for the MSX2 home computer in 1990.
  • Lonely Bachelor Pad: Gillian's apartment, which actually looks closer to Ascetic Aesthetic in most versions of the game, but played as this trope in all of them. Upon first visiting, Metal cannot contain his grief.
    Metal Gear: I just couldn't help but be overcome by how miserable your life is.
    • Played straight in the 32-bit versions of the game. Indeed, Gillian's apartment looks quite bleak in the Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions of Snatcher.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The theme of Joy Division/Plato's Cavern. It's only heard while in that district of town, which becomes inaccessible after Act 1.
  • Love Makes You Evil: The reason Elijah Modnar continues the Snatcher project long after it was supposed to be discontinued. When he grows too old though, it is later replaced by delusions of World Domination.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Somewhat justified, as Gillian notes that "nobody uses those things anymore" upon finding a floppy disk.
  • Master of Disguise: Played with. Napoleon is almost one of these, but ultimately just wants to amuse himself. Besides being a JUNKER informant, he works nights as the doorman at Outer Heaven while wearing a werewolf mask. His outgoing videophone message features a picture of himself wearing said mask, so he's clearly not that interested in hiding his identity. That, combined with his distinctive sneezing both in and out of disguise, makes it easy for Gillian to figure out that Napoleon was Outer Heaven's doorman all along. (The game helps telegraph all this in advance, when Napoleon shows up for a meeting with Gillian in a Santa outfit, armed with packs of promotional freebie tissues.)
    Napoleon: Being an informer isn't exactly the safest job on the planet, you know. That's why it's important to be a master of disguise末like me.
  • 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.
  • Mister Muffykins: Referenced rather darkly, as a new pet craze in Neo Kobe is animals that can be used as cute purses, and tend to be internally lacerated by sharp objects.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Not exactly subtle. Chin Shu Oh expressly compares the Snatcher's fear-mongering tactics to that of the Nazis.
  • 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.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • While the game doesn't exactly call you for cheating, if you get any of the answers to Napoleon's questions correctly without looking at JORDAN, Metal will ask Gillian how he knew about it.
    • Even if you already know Freddy is a Snatcher, not Ivan, you still have to investigate Ivan's apartment first.
  • 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.
    • Played straight if you lose the final shooting scene in Act 3 and choose not to continue, or if you accidentally shoot Jamie at the end.
    • The original 8-bit computer versions have one more of these; lost during the transition to consoles. When Gillian boots up Jean-Jack's PC to load the floppy disk, the game gives the player the option to "crash" the machine. Choosing this option will result in an authentic-looking game over screen, which stings harder in the 8-bit versions because these versions offer no continues. If the player waits about 30 seconds, Metal will tell Gillian that he gets another chance, and the game resumes.
  • Not My Driver: Gillian hops into a taxi, only to discover that Chin Shu Oh's Snatcher, who is Not Quite Dead, is his cabbie.
  • Not Quite Dead: Random survives his own Suicide Attack by virtue of being a bioroid himself.
  • Nuke 'em: The world intended to use nukes on Neo Kobe, just to make sure there are no Snatchers ever. Thanks to Metal Gear delaying the Kyoto summit on Gillian's orders, the military uses their Kill Sat to eradicate the cathedral instead, with the nuke plan on standby incase the two failed.
  • Number of the Beast: The Catastrophe occurred on 6/6/96 in later versions of the game (originally it happened in 1991.)
  • Obligatory Swearing: Despite how violent the game is, the only swear words commonly used are "damn," "hell," and "crap."
  • 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 officer by default!
  • Off with His Head! / Plot-Triggering Death: Jean Jack Gibson gets a particularly nasty death via having his head twisted completely off. Earlier versions even showed his torso twisted 180 degrees while later versions had his stump in full view. Upon investigating Gibson's corpse, responsibility for Gibson's case falls upon Gillian as a result.
  • Older Than They Look: Exaggerated as one of the major bombshells of the plot. If you do the numbers, Gillian is actually 79 years old, and Jamie is 77.note  Both of them have spent the majority of their lives in cryogenic stasis, and therefore still look like thirty-somethings. This is revealed by Metal at the start of Act 3, and expounded upon by Elijah Modnar later in the Act. Therefore, this means that Gillian and Jamie were born in 1963 and 1965, respectively (or 1968 and 1970 in the Sega CD version). Elijah spent only ten years in stasis, and the difference is plainly obvious.
    • This is gently telegraphed early in the game by an optional event in Gillian's apartment. If the player examines the framed photo on the living room shelf, it turns out to be a shot of (a very young) Jamie, at the 1980 Winter Olympics in the United States. Gillian is bewildered by the picture (even though he's in his own apartment), and Metal presumes it's a doctored image.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. JUNKER has a Benson Cunningham and a Harry Benson as employees. This becomes a problem for Gillian when he finds evidence of one of them being a snatcher, but has nothing to go on other than the name Benson.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Chin Shu Oh shoots Gillian and Random in their arm and leg.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech:
    Gillian: You're Insane! Humanity won't be so easily dominated! You underestimate the strength of the human spirit!
  • Pet the Dog: Getting hit during the Insector battle at the abandoned factory will trigger what nearly amounts to a subplot about Gillian's physical condition. First, Metal will patch Gillian up by injecting him with nanomachines. Then, the Chief will ask Gillian if he feels alright. Then Mika checks in. Gillian never complains about his injuries, and assures his fellow JUNKERs that he's fine. At this point, the player can go to Gillian's apartment to use the restroom. If this is done, Metal will subsequently panic because he forgot to take Gillian's nanomachines out first.
    • All of this dialog is completely optional and never appears if the player makes it through the first Insector battle unscathed.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Lampshaded. After the Turbocycle gets sabotaged, Gillian and Metal frantically try everything to get the situation under control. Nothing works, but if the player chooses "PRAY TO GOD," Metal will excitedly point out that a new option has appeared on the menu. Selecting this new option will trigger Random's entrance and subsequent rescue scene.
  • 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 include Benson Cunningham's former membership within FOXHOUND, the Outer Heaven nightclub, and the inclusion of Dr. Petrovich 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.
  • Replicant Snatching: The Trope Half-Namer. Fittingly enough, Blade Runner is the other half.
  • The Reveal: Metal Gear identifies a decomposing body as that of the real Benson Cunningham.
  • Robot Buddy: Metal Gear, Gillian's partner in his investigation. By default, all Junkers have said buddies, or "navigators" so as to better handle the more technical side of things and administer battlefield medicine when needed.
  • Robot Religion: The Snatchers worship Elijah Modnar as their creator, and even attend church in his name.
  • Robotic Reveal: Several characters turn out to be Snatchers.
  • 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.
  • Scare Chord: Three different ones can be heard throughout the game. Heard during jumpscares and plot twists.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Random Hajile's name is "Elijah Modnar" spelled backwards, a reference to Random being a bioroid created in Elijah's image.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The original 1988 home computer versions end with a shot of Gillian aiming and shooting his gun towards the screen.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The hidden staircase to the "real" Queens Hospital.
  • Setting Update: 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. Presumably, this was done because the English version was made in 1994, three years after the date when the Catastrophe took place in the Japanese version.
  • Sequel Hook: The PC versions end the game at Act 2 (after Gillian destroys the Benson Snatcher), with Gillian still having no recollection of his past and the Snatcher menace still a threat to Neo Kobe City. Act 3, which was added in the console versions, ends a more conclusive (but still open) note, with Gillian and Metal flying off to Moscow to destroy the remaining Snatchers at the Kremlin.
    "Throughout history, suspicion has always bred conflict. The real conflict, though, resides in people's hearts. This conflict has just begun."
  • Sheathe Your Sword: How to win the final shooting sequence. The last shootout includes a silhouette of Jamie. Shooting her will cause an instant Game Over.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Once Gillian and Metal Gear discover the truth behind Queens Hospital in Act 2, the story noticeably turns a bit more serious. Chin Shu Oh reveals to the heroes what the snatchers' plan is, Benson Cunningham reveals to be a snatcher and killed Harry, and final straw was when Jamie is kidnapped. By the time the third act rolls around, there was hardly any funny moments and Gillian and Metal have to stop the snatcher invasion before the government nukes Neo Kobe. In fact, Metal splits with Gillian at the end.
  • Shooting It Out Of Their Hands: Gillian blasting the gun out of Ivan's mitts, which Metal notes is not only an expert shot, but avoids violating a JUNKER bylaw since it was done in self-defense.
  • Shout-Out: In the Sega CD version, the Outer Heaven bar is filled with clients dressed in Konami costumes, with characters dressed as Goemon, Sparkster, Simon and Dracula, Bill and Lance, and Mr. Ueda. The PlayStation and Sega Saturn versions replaces Bill and Lance with Light and Pastel, Sparkster with Pawapuro-kun, and Mr. Ueda with "Designman." The bartender was also redesigned to resemble the Golem boss from Salamander.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: In the Japanese version several locations in the game were named after popular '80s 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 (which was pluralized to 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.
  • SkeleBot 9000: Strictly in terms of visual design, the Snatchers are a shameless ripoff of the T-800 robots from the Terminator films. (Kojima is a big James Cameron fan.) The resemblance is so unabashed that this became an issue when the game was finally released outside Japan; the Snatchers' color design was modified a bit to give them a green glowing eye instead of red, and brass-colored highlights were added to their heads and bodies as well.
  • 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. ... Thus making Elijah's full name "Elijah Madnar". This wouldn't be the only Madnar in Kojima's works.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Gillian's first field assignment is to go assist Gibson after he sends a message that he is pinned down by suspected Snatchers in an abandoned factory. One would think this is cause for some urgency, but once you arrive outside the factory, the game does not allow you to proceed inside until you meticulously examine everything in sight. Only once you hear a blood-curdling scream will Gillian and Metal Gear decide they should rush in.
  • Suddenly-Harmful Harmless Object: The fake "skeleton" in Queens Hospital is anything but.
  • Suicide Attack: Random ends up performing two of these throughout the game. The first is the use of hidden explosives on his person to help Gillian escape Chin Shu Oh and his Snatcher horde, while the second is at the end of the game, holding his original, Elijah Modnar, hostage to keep the Snatchers in line until the government's phase particle beam can wipe him, Elijah, the Snatchers and Metal out of existence.
  • Super Identikit: The JUNKER computer room's "Montage Mode," though it is imperfect in that the montage generated isn't a 100% match, and gives Gillian a false lead at first.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: Arguably the biggest bombshell of the entire plot, due to how it's skillfully set up, timed, and delivered at the beginning of Act 3. After being mortally wounded by a Snatcher, 55-year-old JUNKER engineer Harry Benson dies in Gillian Seed's arms, just as they were starting to form a professional camaraderie. Almost immediately afterward, we learn that Harry was actually the son of Gillian and his estranged wife Jamie, both of whom are (apparently) around 30 years old. (For the full explanation, see Older Than They Look above.) Due to his amnesia, Gillian only had the vaguest notion of who Harry really was, and regrets having learned the truth too late.
  • Super Prototype: As revealed during Act 3, Random Hajile is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is, in fact, a bioroid robot hastily designed and built by Dr. Pettrovich Modnar, after being abducted by his own son and forced to help finish the Snatcher project. Random was secretly created by Dr. Modnar in retaliation for Elijah's actions, with the express purpose of destroying his son's Snatchers. Unlike the Snatchers, Random is so well-crafted that he believes he is human. With an audible grimace, even Elijah admits that Random is superior to his own bioroids in every way.
    Elijah: How like my father. Silly old man. He did virtually overnight, what I could not do in forty years of effort.
  • Take Over the World: Most of Chin Shu Oh's Motive Rant revolves around this.
  • invokedTechnology Marches On: Jean's floppy disk. Partially justified in that Jean is shown to have old-fashioned tastes, since his computer is a vintage PC-68 from The '80s.
  • Take Your Time: Despite an active time bomb nearby, you can spend as much time as you like hanging around the abandoned factory. The bomb doesn't go off until Gillian and Metal actually leave.
  • Throw-Away Country: Most of Russia and continental Eurasia a good 50 years before the game begins, due to a seemingly unrelated virus. SD Snatcher does a good job of tying it into the plot, though.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Gillian and his wife were part of the team that developed the Snatchers 50 years ago and were cryogenically stored.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A demo disc for Snatcher CD-ROMantic, known as the Pilot Disk, came out in advance of that version of the game in 1992. Among other things (like a playable demo), it includes a lengthy, slickly-produced trailer for the full game, rendered by the PC Engine in real-time without any FMV. Versions of Snatcher had been available for years by that point, and the trailer is understandably heavy on spoilers. Unfortunately, Snatcher CD-ROMantic was to effectively be a Director's Cut of the game, featuring a lengthy conclusion to the plot yet unseen by the public. As well as spoiling the known plot of the game up to that point, the trailer has no qualms about generously spoiling the new content as well. (Beware!)
  • Transplant: Metal Gear Mk. II eventually found work as Old Snake's Item Caddy in Metal Gear Solid 4, while Cunningham got a Race Lift and was turned into a Scary Black Man in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. Half of everyone else, though, couldn't score anything bigger than their own cards in the Metal Gear Ac!d series.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: Queens Hospital uses one of these on the door to their "morgue."
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Subverted. 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.
  • Unique Enemy: Subverted in the Sega CD and 32-bit versions. In the first three Japanese versions of Snatcher, Gillian only fights the Insectors one time, at the abandoned factory in Act 1. The Sega CD port throws in two more Insector battles; one each for Acts 2 and 3. The 32-bit versions include these extra battle scenes as well.
  • Updated Re-release: Kojima and his team saw fit to remake the original PC-88 and MSX2 versions four years later as a CD-ROM title 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 re-releases 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.
    • 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 pass.
    • Similarly (albeit not really cruel), showing the JUNKER ID to Isabella nets a similar result.
  • Virus and Cure Names: "Lucifer-Alpha" ravages Eastern Europe, but mutates into a benign form by the present day. SD Snatcher follows more in line with the trope with "Lucifer-Beta" (the New and Improved virus) and "L-Angel" (the antidote).
  • Voodoo Shark: Why does nobody ever use the easily portable, perfectly effective, completely non-invasive Snatcher detector without a warrant? Respect for civil rights! This would be a perfectly fine explanation if it didn't completely undermine the Snatchers' plans. How are they supposed to turn people against each other out of fear and mistrust when people are that trusting? Unless, of course, the Snatchers themselves initiated a crackdown to cultivate paranoia.
  • Weakened by the Light: The artificial skin of Snatchers is incredibly vulnerable to UV-ray born cancer, forcing them into largely nocturnal existences. Even then, they must use copious amounts of sunscreen.
  • Wham Line: At the end of the game, after Elijah Modnar's thirty-minute Motive Rant:
    Metal Gear: I'm afraid that won't be possible.
  • 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. At least, until Cunningham's death is officially confirmed and Gillian is thus the highest ranking JUNKER agent by default.
  • Younger Than They Look: Freddy Neilson has grey hair and his profile has 29 listed as his age.
  • Your Head Asplode: Freddy getting taken out by Random.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Invoked during Cunningham's Final Speech, after his termination.
    Cunningham: JU末JU末JU末JUNKER! You may have stopped me, but it's not over yet!

"Throughout history, suspicion has always bred conflict. The real conflict, though, resides in people's hearts. This conflict has just begun."