It’s been 30 years since the original Metal Gear debuted for the MSX, kicking off what would act as a long and enduring legacy for video game designer, screenwriter, director and producer Hideo Kojima, who would also go on to bring us classics like Snatcher and Policenauts. Kojima’s opus was and always will be, however, the Metal Gear series, which we’ve had the good graces of the last three decades to see twist and evolve into something of a masterclass in style when it comes to gaming.
The Metal Gear franchise and all its entries hold a special place in my heart, and they always will. To that end, I’m celebrating the 30th anniversary with a look back at how my love affair began. Interestingly enough, I’m nearly as old as the series is!
It all started with a shopping trip to Target during Metal Gear Solid’s heyday. I had an original PlayStation with a Pizza Hut demo disc and several other games from the pawn shop. Metal Gear Solid was the first sealed PlayStation game purchase my father made, we were eager to tear into it. Its simple white and crimson case with the logo emblazoned across the cover was appealing to me even at that young of an age, and while it seemed complicated and tenuous to me when I first loaded it into my PlayStation, I knew it was an adventure I wanted and needed to conquer. I still love running my fingers along the red foil of the cover.
I didn’t immediately understand what I played, but I was enamored with Snake, Otacon, and the nuanced storytelling elements that blew me away with gorgeous graphics, lovingly rendered cut scenes, and a plot that kept twisting around and forcing me to guess at what might happen next. It was a far cry from Final Fantasy and Crash Bandicoot, or the platformers I enjoyed with my dad as a child. It offered so many more complexities that even some of my more niche favorites couldn’t explore yet and set the stage for the stealth action titles I’d go on to evangelize, such as Splinter Cell or Thief.
And when the first game came to an end and Solid Snake shared a moment with Otacon where he revealed his real name, I nearly cried real tears. I had invested so much time in Metal Gear Solid that I didn’t want the adventure to end. I knew I had to stay invested for the long haul. So I did.
I set off on what would eventually be one of the most unique games in the history of stealth action games back then not realizing how much they’d eventually mean to me. I may not have started my odyssey through the Metal Gear universe with the original MSX or even NES version of the game that started it all, but I appreciate that adventure and every subsequent installment that’s spawned since then.
From Raiden taking center stage in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty to my first dalliances with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, I’ve been a willing participant in Kojima’s magnificently-orchestrated narrative opus. I proudly marched through the fourth and fifth games and came to the shocking realization that those would likely be the last games I’d ever know in terms of the Metal Gear I grew up loving (and Acid and Portable Ops too) by the end of The Phantom Pain.
The shocking moments, memorable missions, and stylistic decisions made the series feel much more personal to me, like more than a video game. I grew up entangled within something that felt bigger to me, and it’s still an integral part of my gaming history. To that end, I never want to see it truly, truly end. Especially not after 30 years. I’m looking forward to Metal Gear Survive too, and I’m not concerned in the least that it’s a project without Kojima’s involvement, because some part of me is still reaching out and clawing for more Metal Gear, no matter the container.
From start to finish, Metal Gear is a cinematic masterpiece, matched only by a rare other few in its ranks. There’s an excellent if sometimes obtuse story that’s constantly unfolding across several different stages sprinkled with memorable boss battles and plot twists that invoke a veritable schizophrenic range of emotions. It’s a part of me now, and it always will be. Like our favorite Snake once said, it’s easy to forget what a sin is in the middle of the battlefield. But I’ll never forget how Metal Gear left its mark on me. Here’s to 30 more awesome years.