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Metal Gear Solid (Game Boy Color) artwork

Metal Gear Solid (Game Boy Color) review


"Treating Metal Gear Solid as an unchangable work of art probably wasn't the most intelligent thing Konami could have done with this 8-bit re-imagining. Its story is almost an exact retelling only with different character names and a less snowy climate, while its gameplay is quite faithful to the terrible standard set by the original. There's even VR training like you would find on the PSX incarnation. A drastically stripped down version, anyhow, but they get their two points for trying. I..."



Treating Metal Gear Solid as an unchangable work of art probably wasn't the most intelligent thing Konami could have done with this 8-bit re-imagining. Its story is almost an exact retelling only with different character names and a less snowy climate, while its gameplay is quite faithful to the terrible standard set by the original. There's even VR training like you would find on the PSX incarnation. A drastically stripped down version, anyhow, but they get their two points for trying. It's hardly a "slam dunk", and the fact that this is universally acknowledged as the finest offering on Nintendo's Game Boy Color is a sobering testament to the overall weakness of its entire catalogue of games. Essentially, everything bad is carried over, and no lessons were learned from Kojima's previous masterpiece of wankery. This was made in 2000, back when everyone was still gaga over the "significant advances" made by MGS on Sony's gray box. It might as well have been made in 1987 for the grace by which it has aged.

Fan service is paid to the 1987 original by sending Snake (after the obligatory "talking out of retirement" scene) into Outer Heaven, the same locale where he battled his father Big Boss as a rookie FOX-HOUND agent. The game never ceases to exist, only the players change. Snake's trapped in a deadly video game with just one man, against the usual array of weird super-soldiers. This time the opposing force goes by the name of "Black Chamber", a group of rogue mercs who've predictably stolen Metal Gear and are carrying out the usual nuclear holocaust threat plan. By now Snake can defuse nuclear sieges in his fucking sleep. And sleep you will, as he parachutes out of a C-5 Galaxy transport and into a field patrolled by a handful of identical guards in identical green jumpsuits. So far so simple. But can it be "all so simple"?

Snake hops on the Codec and yaps with Colonel Campbell, who, along with jailbait techie Mei Ling, are the only other holdouts from the PSX version. To be fair, none of the wildly implausible events of that game are even mentioned here, possibly because Kojima had little to do with this adaptation. There are no epic conversations about philosophy and the fate of the free world, due to lack of voice actors. Instead there are just bleeps of different pitches to suggest different tones of voice. Along with those two there's McBride, the CIA liaison, who supplies you with (useless) geographical and political info. There's also an ex-Merc codenamed "Weasel" -- guess who the traitor is!

The "sneak past guards or otherwise kill them without being seen" gameplay is intact and just as unrewarding as ever. The music is a fine replication of previous themes, the musical sting when you're detected is a notably accurate transition. Your high-tech Soliton Radar System is also here, and there's no option to turn it off. Total resolution of the radar screen is about 20 by 20 pixels; a map of the LEGO constructed environs eliminates any need for exploration or memorization, and if your eyesight is sharp enough you can barely make out where the guards are. They're literally represented by a single yellow pixel on the unlit Game Boy Color screen. Playing the NES original won't do you any good. It's not really "Outer Heaven", but rather the Central American fortress known as "Galuade", occupied by some Spaniard general dude. His henchmen, who are actually obligated to kill you this time, attempt to stop Snake before he enters the fortress proper.

First is Crocodile Dundee Slasher Hawk, who attacks with a boomerang and sends his hawk to pluck you to death. Snake controls a little better than he did on the PSX, but it still wouldn't be Metal Gear if it didn't have awkward looking combat. The handful of guns are arguably less reliable than good old fisticuffs. Croc Hawk goes down easier than Joe Don Baker in Final Justice. Sadly you can't collect his boomerang as a reusable ranged blade weapon. You battle Marionette Owl, who is apparently an expert at being controlled, in total darkness with the help of your thermal goggles. Good old fisticuffs save the day again. Pyro Bison, flamethrower expert, goes down with a few 9mm rounds. There's even a Hind D helicopter which must be downed with Nikita missiles (?).

There is hardly a whiff of originality here, but that's expected given this series' tendency to endlessly riff on itself. You even have cigarettes which did not need to be puked up post-landing. Hilariously, since this is an E-rated adaptation, it's called your all-purpose "Fogger". It can't produce smoke screens, though, it acts exactly like a self-lighting fag ("cigarette" for you Yanks). There's even a nerdy scientist who designed this latest version of Metal Gear (which is the roughly the size of the Chrysler building), although he is much fatter and less emo than Otacon. There's "Chris", a tranny Delta Force op stranded behind enemy lines, superior to Snake in that she has mastered the art of putting on an enemy's uniform to blend in. Snake would rather trust his skintight "sneaking suit" to stealthily move him through the fortress Galuade.

Metal Gear goes down with a few grenades to his feet; the showdown with Black Arts specialist "Viper" is only made difficult with the addition of a countdown timer and the usual threat of nuclear holocaust ... yawn.

Admittedly, the VR Training mode is a welcome addition, more like a collection of minigames. It's exactly like you'd see it on the PSX down to the same music. It's so much better than the single-player storyline and a perfect way to pass time (and other things) in the bathroom although it doesn't take very long to achieve a 100% rating; the only reward is a Sound Test mode. Two-player linked battles are only a cut above those in Pokemon, sadly, and I can't say I played more than one before my friend and I both went back to our marathon Road Rash II session. Metal Gear: Ghost Babel was what this game went by in Japan, even though it's name change is quite appropriate given how much it cribs from that PSX "classic". Don't let the different dressing fool you. It's pretty much the exact same game at heart, but not as unintentionally hilarious, or smug about it's "moral". I don't even think it has a moral, other than don't fucking let Campbell in when he comes a'knockin' at your door.

Rating: 2/10

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Community review by johnny_cairo (July 16, 2007)

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