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—Snake, beginning a grand tradition.
Originally released in Japan for the MSX2 computer in 1990, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is the second (canonical) game in the Metal Gear series. In spite of early skepticism, the first Metal Gear 1987 was received well enough that an Nintendo Entertainment System-exclusive sequel called Snakes Revenge was produced. Though it was the first sequel to Metal Gear ever made, Konami had commissioned it without the consent or input of series creator Hideo Kojima. One day, during a train ride in Tokyo, Kojima met one of the developers working on Snake's Revenge. The developer told Kojima about the game. He then asked Kojima to make his own sequel to Metal Gear, and thus, after getting the go-ahead from Konami, Metal Gear 2 was born.
Metal Gear 2 is, like its predecessor, a Stealth Based Game following exploits of FOXHOUND operative Solid Snake. The plot kicks off when the world's oil supply unexpectedly runs dry. With the world facing an energy crisis Dr. Kio Marv, a Czech biologist, develops a microbe called OILIX, capable of synthesizing petroleum. Hoping to use OILIX to ensure their military dominance, a small nation called Zanzibar Land kidnaps Marv during a trip to the United States to discuss his findings. Snake is sent in to diffuse this threat and rescue Marv from the clutches of Zanzibar Land. But Zanzibar Land has an ace up their sleeves: a new model of Metal Gear is in development...
Beginning with Metal Gear 2, the series took a brand new turn - it decided to take itself seriously, to startlingly good results. Metal Gear 2 further evolved the stealth mechanics of its predecessor and introduced a Darker and Edgier storyline involving Melodrama, plot twists, and the themes of warfare and nuclear proliferation. The game system was also completely revamped from the original. Whereas the guards in the previous remained stationed in one room, here they can patrol more than one screen and they now have a wider range of vision as well. To compensate for the improvement in the enemy's abilities, the player is given a radar which shows the position of enemy soldiers and terrain in adjacent screen, as well as the ability to crawl under desks, ducts and other small spaces.
The production values of Metal Gear 2 are a noted improvement from its predecessor, but its late release meant that only low quantities were produced (making it the most sought-after MSX2 game in the secondhand market, often going for over 20,000 yen whenever a complete copy is auctioned on Yahoo Japan Auctions). It would be more than fifteen years before an official English version was released, when it came packaged with Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater: Subsistence, although a fan-translation was already available on the Internet around the time the original Metal Gear Solid came out.
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: A very extensive one, with half of the manual covering the game's backstory and setting in great detail. Here's a fan-translated version.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: All of the characters have different sprites when facing left or right, even unarmed characters.
- Anti-Villain: Going by some characters' statements, in spite of Big Boss essentially wanting to turn the world into an immense battlefield, he did nonetheless do non-villainous actions such as saving the Outer Heaven resistance members, as well as forgiving them for their earlier opposition towards him and Outer Heaven, after the NATO bombings of Outer Heaven. This was alluded to in Kyle Schneider's dying speech. Gray Fox revealed that Big Boss saved his life twice, earning him his genuine loyalty. He also saved the children living in Zanzibar Land, although the last bit is in the gray area.
- Attract Mode: It has two. The first, on booting, is a credits reel, going over the specs of the new model Metal Gear. The second, if the player waits during the title screen, explains the plot.
- Back Tracking: You'll be doing a lot of it.
- In general, the two MSX2 Metal Gear games were more open to exploration than later games in the series, due to having a looser plot structure.
- Big Bad: Guess who!
- Bland-Name Product: Solid Snake's favorite brand of cigarettes are not Lucky Strikes, but Lucky Strikers.
- Blood Knight: Although it was initially believed that Big Boss was intending to use OILIX and the stolen stockpiles of nuclear missiles to conquer the world, it is revealed that his true goal was actually just to make the world a war zone so he and his soldiers can have meaning in their lives. Big Boss also implies that Solid Snake is not that different than him.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Subverted: Solid Snake and Holly White are fighting off against Zanzibar Land forces while waiting for Charlie to arrive to extract them, but then runs out of ammo and are then put at the mercy of the Zanzibar Land forces and presumably awaiting execution... only for Charlie to arrive just in time and blast the soldiers to smithereens with the Sikorsky HH-64 Dragoon's machineguns.
- Character Title: Subtitle in this case.
- Copy Protection: When Campbell changes his frequency, he tells the player to check the back of the box to get the new frequency (in the fan translated version, Campbell simply tells the player the new frequency in the first place). Also, a few other frequencies can only be learned by deciphering tap codes through the use of a chart in the manual.
- Child Soldier: Played with. There are several kids within Zanzibar Land, and Big Boss alludes in his final speech to Snake that he plans to arm them for the wars of the next generation. However, their lack of antagonism to Solid Snake (or rather, lack of any interaction with Snake other than giving him hints), certainly not sounding an alarm or attacking Snake, as well as Big Boss stating "wars of the next generation" makes it ambiguous as to whether they were actually intended to be deployed into battle or if they wait until they grow up until they join the battlefield.
- CIA Evil, FBI Good: Averted; One of Snake's allies, Holly, was a CIA agent with no ulterior motive in helping Snake in his mission, and Snake himself was stated in the manual to have briefly worked for the CIA, although he left after he disagreed with its policies.
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Snake was shown to be climbing these in the opening cutscene of the game.
- Darker and Edgier: The first game felt quite Bondish, with a two-dimensional villain and characters without any depth. This game is where the series started to become what it is now by telling a very complex and dark story for the 8-bit era. Big Boss in particular, became a much darker villain with complex motivations.
- Did Not Do the Research
- According to Hideo Kojima, Kio Marv is typical name in Czech.
- Holly's bio claims that she won a Grammy for her documentary The Unknown Bloodshed, even though a Grammy is a music award. This was corrected in the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database by stating she won a Emmy instead of a Grammy.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Let's see, apparently the American government wanted Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar to work on SDI, NEDW, and Brain Bombs, but he refused. What did they do? They had the scientific community ostracize him, exile him from said scientific community, and then act as though he never existed shortly thereafter. Suffice to say, Dr. Madnar was not too pleased with this treatment.
- Discontinuity Nod: During the final battle with Big Boss, George Kasler mentions a rumor that states that Big Boss underwent a cybernetic "Snatcher" transplant (a reference to a previous Kojima game) in order to replace the limbs he allegedly lost during his battle with Snake at the end of the original Metal Gear. Kasler clarifies that its nothing but a rumor and when Snake eventually defeats Big Boss with a makeshift flamethrower, he burns to "death" like a normal person would. The rumor is actually a dig at Snake's Revenge, the non-canon NES sequel which preceded Metal Gear 2, in which Big Boss' second form was a fire-breathing cybernetic behemoth.
- Disposable Woman: Gustava Heffner lasts all of ten minutes before getting a missile to the face.
- Doing It for the Art: Your Mileage May Vary on the rest of the series, but this game was made after one of the developers of Snake's Revenge told Kojima that he should make a true Metal Gear sequel, and the game was released at a time when the MSX2 was practically dead as a gaming platform.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Compared to the primitiveness of the previous game, Metal Gear 2 is surprisingly very close to Metal Gear Solid, despite being hampered by the technical limitations of the MSX2. It still has a few odd moments and leftover play mechanics from the first game, such as the fact that Snake still moves only in four directions.
- Final Speech: Not all of the bosses, but this game begins the tradition.
- Fisticuffs Boss: The fight against Gray Fox forces you to discard your entire inventory before it starts.
- Fake Longevity: See Back Tracking.
- Freudian Excuse: Gray Fox, Kyle Schneider, and Dr. Madnar give one each in regards to why they defected to Zanzibar Land. See Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Metal Gear 2 was (eventually) released outside Japan, they kept in a game mechanic that International Gaming Standards would have normally raised a hand against. See Video Game Cruelty Potential for more details.
- Grass Is Greener: Let's just say that Dr. Madnar was sorely disappointed when he did defect/immigrate to America and learned what he is going to be forced to do.
- The Great Politics Mess-Up: The game, which was released in 1990 but set in 1999, assumes that the Soviet Union will be still be around by that time and even has a character (Gustava Heffner) employed by the Czechoslovakian Secret Police, a real-life organization that was dissolved the very same year the game came out. Gustava even compares her failed romance with Frank Hunter with the Berlin Wall, which was destroyed during the same year as well.
- Guide Dang It: The player is required to decipher tap codes to learn at least two frequencies, which can only be done by using a chart in the manual. Additionally, Snake is also told to look at the back of the game's package to learn Campbell's second frequency upon reaching Tower Building.
- Unfortunately, the North American version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence only came with a condensed manual and the online PDF version barely contained any information on the older games. Because of this, some of the solutions were posted online by Konami in an FAQ on their site (no longer online, but there's a waybacked copy available).
- Hannibal Lecture: Big Boss delivers one to Solid Snake before their final battle, countered by Snake's Shut UP, Hannibal speech.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: You know the stinger missiles Snake has to use to shoot down the Hind D around the heliport area? Well, those stinger missiles he gained were originally supposed to be installed onto the war machines of Zanzibar Land, including the Goliath tanks and... the Hind D gunships.
- Also how Red Blaster ended up defeated.
- Humongous Mecha: This game marks the first time in the series Snake gets to battle a manned Metal Gear.
- It's Raining Men: According to the manual for the game, Solid Snake infiltrated Zanzibar Land at the dead of night via a HAHO jump.
- Killer Rabbit: The "deadly poisonous" Zanzibar hamsters.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: An important item is hidden inside an MSX cartridge made by a Japanese company named Konami. Hmm...
- Made of Explodium: Bosses tend to explode when they die. Can be a bit of a level breaker if they've just given a dramatic speech.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Madnar. What a surprise. In fairness, however, his name was originally Dr. Petrovich, and he was on Snake's side in the first game...
- Plus, according to him, the only reason why he was even labelled as such was because America's politicians just wanted him to make things like Brain Bombs, as well as make things relating to SDI and NEDW, and he also mentions that the same politicians only abused and showed contempt of him.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Kyle Schneider (and presumably the other surviving members of his resistance), Dr. Madnar, and possibly Gray Fox's reasons as to why they defected to Zanzibar Land dealt with this trope.
- For Schneider, after Metal Gear was destroyed in Snake's mission to Outer Heaven, NATO decided to commence a pinpoint aerial nuclear bombardment on the nuke production facilities of Outer Heaven, and indiscriminately killed both Outer Heaven personnel and the resistance members (the latter of whom were their allies), and that's not even getting to the deaths of war orphans and war refugees. NATO also recovered a near-dead Schneider and subjected him to a NASA-based experiment regarding extraterrestrial ninjas until he and the rest of his unit were disbanded. Because of this, as well as Big Boss actually saving the surviving resistance members, he decided to throw his lot to Big Boss to repay him for this debt.
- For Dr. Madnar, after Outer Heaven, he defected/immigrated to America (depending on whether the Soviet Union was still in existence or not), leaving his daughter behind. When he did join America... well, let's just say that the promises of liberty and freedom were empty for him. Basically, he was treated with total contempt by the American government, and also implied to have been abused by the government as well, basically forcing him to make brain bombs, SDI, and NEDW. He wanted to recreate Metal Gear, the scientific community and the government then ostracized him (ironic, considering the fact that America was working on Metal Gear REX since at least May 1996). He then decided he had enough of it and secretly defected to Zanzibar Land, since they at least would allow him to work on the weapon.
- Lastly, Gray Fox. During the Calgary Olympics, he, under the name of Frank Hunter, met Gustava Heffner and wanted to elope with her, arranging for her to defect to the United States. However, the U.S. refused amnesty to her. Gray Fox didn't take it too well, although he didn't defect until after Outer Heaven.
- The Mole: Dr. Madnar.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Gray Fox allies himself with Big Boss, since he had saved his life twice before.
- My Nayme Is: The first boss in the MSX2 version is a space ninja called Black Color, named after the Timothy Zahn novel The Blackcollar, while the four-man assassination squad Ultra Box is named after the band Ultravox. Despite the mistaken assumption that these spellings were fan translation errors, that's how they were actually spelled in the MSX2 version (all of the bosses used romanized names instead of Japanese characters).
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Solid Snake managed to stop TX-55 Metal Gear from being completed. Unfortunately, NATO apparently decided to use that opportunity to launch an air raid nuclear strike against Outer Heaven that resulted in both the Outer Heaven personnel and the Outer Heaven Resistance members suffering severe casualties, not to mention people who were war refugees and war orphans. In fact, it was this action that nearly resulted in Schneider's near death, not Outer Heaven as it was earlier implied. Also, his nearly killing Gray Fox and Big Boss (especially the former action) would prove to have serious repercussions for him in the next game.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The character portraits in the MSX2 version are obviously modified photographs of popular celebrities at the time (notably Big Boss is Sean Connery with an eyepatch and Gray Fox is Tom Berenger). The rip-offs were so obvious that when Konami re-released the game on later platforms, they had to change them to avoid any likeness infringement. Even the Japanese Virtual Console version, which is otherwise a straight emulation of the original MSX2 version, uses the new Shinkawa-style portraits.
- Orwellian Retcon : In addition to the spelling variations mentioned below, many of the characters specific to this game were renamed when the game was released to other platforms. Notably Natasha Marcova became Gustava Heffner (presumably to avoid confusion with the similarly named Nastasha Romanenko from the original Metal Gear Solid), while Yozef Norden was renamed Johan Jacobsen. Despite this, a lot of inconsistencies with the later Metal Gear Solid games were kept (even in the official Konami site, which still states that Big Boss lost his right eye during the '80s), along with a few factual mistakes.
- Retcon: Besides the name changes, there were also various changes in later games that make most of the events in Metal Gear 2 extremely unlikely to happen. One of the most notable was the constant references to the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc that were done in such a way that made it seem as though they were still in existence in late 1999 (the setting of the game). Many of these retcons, that one in particular, were a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as at the time the game was being made, it really was still in existence, and the Soviet Union and Communism in Eastern Europe were still going somewhat strong until it fell faster than predicted.
- Schematized Prop: The opening credits sequence is a lengthy detailing of Metal Gear D's various parts.
- Series Continuity Error: A few things get... muddled if you try to reconcile this game with later games in the series. In particular, it's claimed by Kasler in-game that Big Boss lost his right eye in Outer Heaven (although he was already wearing an eyepatch in the original Metal Gear and the manual states he lost it during the 80s), and the revelation that Big Boss is Snake's father is nowhere to be seen.
- The dialogue between Solid Snake and Big Boss at the end suggest that Metal Gear 2 takes place three years (1996) after the events of the original Metal Gear. This is due to the manual claiming that the "Outer Heaven crisis" occurred in 1995, but the first Metal Gear (the one Solid Snake destroyed) was built in 1996.
- The manual has other inconsistencies, such as referring to the mission from the first game as "Operation Intrude N312" instead of N313 and the region in Africa where Outer Heaven was located as "Salzburgh" instead of "Galzburgh". Natasha's bio even refers to her former lover as "Frank Jaeger", even though she knew him as "Frank Hunter".
- Dr. Madnar is mentioned in Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots as the scientist who saved Raiden, despite the fact it was implied in Metal Gear Solid that he died in this game. Note that Dr. Madnar is the only boss character who does not explode after he is defeated.
- Shout-Out: Several, especially in the MSX2 version:
- Black Color, a.k.a. Kyle Schneider, was a reference to the novel The Blackcollar, which involved space ninjas.
- Predator's name was taken directly from the movie of the same name.
- Running Man's name was taken directly from the Arnold Schwartzenegger movie of the same name.
- Ultra Box, the name of the four-man team who ambush Snake in the elevator, were named after the British band Ultravox.
- Minovsky Particles from the Gundam series are referenced in the Maze Wood area.
- Gainax, the Japanese anime studio, is referenced as a lavatory production facility.
- Pegimin-H, from Ultra-Q, is mentioned to be one of the natural resources for Zanibar Land.
- Omniconsumer Products, one of the creators of the Goliath Tank, was the same company as the one from RoboCop.
- For Kojima related Shout Outs, there are two for Snatcher, the first was when Kasler informed Snake about the rumors about Big Boss being a cyborg as a result of the Snatcher project (which also doubled as a Take That against Snakes Revenge). The second was when Roy mentions Kasler in a radio call, where he warned Snake to avoid discussing anything relating to "Whale Cuisine," a reference to an autopsied murder victim that had whale cuisine inside his stomach tract. It's Lost in Translation, though, as the Whale Cuisine was changed to Buffalo Meat in Snatcher's English version.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Dr. Kio Marv's name is VRAM 0.1K backwards, a riff on the MSX booting sequence, as revealed during the ending.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The original MSX2 uses different spellings for some of the characters (not counting those whose names were changed entirely) than the ones used in the later releases and at least one character in the MSX2 version has his name spelled differently between the manual and the in-game spelling. Note that the fan-translated version used the spellings for Campbell and Jaeger that were used in Metal Gear Solid. The following examples gives the names as they appear in the later releases, followed by the spellings used in the MSX2 version.
- Campbell is spelled "Kyanbel".
- Gray Fox is spelled "Grey Fox" and Jaeger is "Yeager".
- Holly is spelled "Horry". This spelling actually made its way into the original Metal Gear Solid via an in-game plot summary, but the GameCube version changed it to "Holly".
- Kasler is spelled "Kesler".
- In the MSX2 version, Dr. Madnar's first name is given as "Petrovich" in the manual and "Petorovich" in-game. The re-releases gave him the full name of "Drago Pettrovich Madnar."
- Tabloid Melodrama: Briefly alluded to by Big Boss when explaining his motivations for creating Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land, when explaining that soldiers often end up as dead weight back at their home countries:
Big Boss: On the battlefield, you and I are valuable commodities. But back "home", we're nothing but dead weight. If we're lucky, we might get the attention of some two-bit journalist from a cheap tabloid.
- Together in Death: Snake promises this for Gray Fox and Gustava. Of course, we all know how that turned out...
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: The player can make Snake kill war-torn orphans.
- What Could Have Been: Metal Gear Gs were originally planned to appear as enemies, but time constraints prevented them from being added in. Similarly, the Goliaths, the MBTs that are seen in the hangar area of Zanzibar Land, were intended to appear as bosses, but were not implemented in for the same reasons.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite the fact that OILIX was supposed to end the energy crisis, and it was recovered in the end of the game, no mention of it was ever made again in the Metal Gear Solid games.
- Would Hurt a Child: See Video Game Cruelty Potential.
- The manual does note that the Berlin Wall was destroyed in 1989, however.