Growing up with Metal Gear Solid

June 18th, 2014 by | Tags:

I remember being a kid and tripping over ads for the Ultra Games Metal Gear, the one with Snake’s whole inventory on a white background? I never played the game as a kid, not to my memory, but I saw that ad on dozens of comics, which means I saw it thousands of times as a kid. It caught my imagination. In Mario you had a fire flower, a tanooki suit, and a cape. But this guy had all types of weapons and gear, like a video game Rambo.

Nowadays, when I want to play a game, I just play it. I download it or trek to Best Buy or buy it on Amazon. It’s nearly instant gratification at this point, limited only by my bandwidth at home. But as a kid? I couldn’t talk my mom into buying anything, especially not if it was about something violent. Star Fox was one thing, but Mortal Kombat? Nah, son. Too realistic.

So I spent a lot of time thinking about video games. I pored over game magazines when I could get them. I still remember having an EGM with a big blow-out on a Samurai Shodown and some info on how to make Mai Shiranui’s boobs bounce in King of Fighters. I read it ’til it came apart, and then I kept reading it because it was the only way I’d experience KoF until years later when I got a Dreamcast.

Metal Gear came out a little early for me to be able to read about it, so the ad had to be enough. I don’t know what I thought the game was like. All I knew was that I wanted to play it because it sounded amazing.

I didn’t play a Metal Gear until Metal Gear Solid on PlayStation. I decimated my SNES collection to get a chance to buy a PlayStation for cheaper from Funcoland or Toys-r-Us or somewhere, and I survived on Madden, Suikoden II, whatever Working Designs put out, Colony Wars, a bunch of demo discs, and Final Fantasy VII for ages.

But MGS tho. I don’t remember what made me go for it, but I assume I saw news of it in the mags and then found a demo somewhere and then wheedled my way into the full disc.

It’s hard to under-sell how I felt experiencing the thing that begins to happen around 7:15 into this clip:

It looks like garbage now, all low-resolution textures and chunky polygons, but there’s a difference between watching it and playing it. In this moment, you were Snake, and that moment when your controller starts vibrating…it captured me. It got me. I loved FF7 but they didn’t ever talk and the game looked like a cartoon. MGS was next-level, ultra-realistic and grim but still incredibly fun and well-designed. Video games weren’t even really using force feedback yet, it was still new. But MGS gave me extensive, high-quality voice acting and scripted sequences, in addition to using the controller itself as a storytelling device, among other features. It was mind-blowing. MGS was the future. Static-y “Horryoukid” vocal clips were dead and gone. It raised the bar.

I’d experienced nothing like it at the time, and MGS is my favorite franchise to this day. I bought a PS3 of my own for MGS4, and beating that game gave me a feeling that hadn’t been beaten since the first time I beat Ninja Gaiden Black. It felt like an accomplishment, instead of something I did at 1 in the morning on a work night.

I can’t claim twenty-seven years of fandom. I was busy being a toddler in 1987. But MGS has been with me since 1998. I started playing it before I really knew what a pacifist or fascist really was, and as I’ve grown, I’ve found a wide variety of things to appreciate. Kojima has his hooks in me, and even though I’m mostly not into most games nowadays, I’m finding that I’m always up for Metal Gear. Nobody does it better.

Here’s what Metal Gear Solid looks like now:

La-li-lu-le-lo, forever and ever. Amen.

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4 comments to “Growing up with Metal Gear Solid”

  1. Man, I played Metal Gear on a rental as a kid and couldn’t get anywhere. I think the couple times I’ve tried as an adult, I haven’t gotten a whole lot further and I have a hell of a time playing NES games I have no real connection to as an adult. Anyway, yeah, MGS was one of the first PS1 games I got after playing the demo that came with the console which just hooked me, but in a way the rest of the series hasn’t really managed to do.

  2. I remember eagerly going to a friend’s house every day after school to watch him play MGS. I never asked once to play myself, because I was simply enthralled watching what I considered to be a movie that happened to be a video game.

    MGS V looks gorgeous and all, but there’s some kinda charm about those blurry-faced cutscenes that nothing will ever recapture for me.

  3. I had a great time watching my college roommates play MGS but I personally disliked the gameplay so I never actually played it. Fast forward 8 or so years and a friend gave me his copy of I think MGS3. Less than 5 minutes into the game I got killed by something I couldn’t see. I took the disk out of my PS2 and haven’t touched it since.

  4. Have you seen the new gameplay video from E3. Looks freaking amazing.