METAL GEAR / Konami / NES

Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear series began with two entries on the MSX home computer system, both of which were innovative, well put together, and garnered significant popularity. Unfortunately, the MSX computer never made it to North America, so when Konami started looking at porting these great titles, they decided to do it for the system with which they were most heavily involved at the time - the NES.

A lot was lost in the translation.

The NES port of Metal Gear strips down and simplifies the MSX original, making it a more arcade-like experience with lots of dialogue cut out, as well as removal of many items and plot elements and a de-emphasis on stealth. You still sneak by doods, but it's a simple matter of running by when they're facing the other way.

The problem with this one is that, outside of the soundtrack, it seems like the designers did a lazy and halfassed job porting it. Hideo Kojima stated that him and his primary team weren't involved with the port at all, and I think it's safe to assume that one of Konami's "B" squads (probably the same ones that handled most of their "Ultra Games" lineup) did the work here.

That's because the level layout is atrocious and the gameplay is shaky. You'll know in the first five minutes if you have the patience to put up with this game, because many of its most obnoxious flaws are on display in the first few screens. These include:

- Engrishy transration, to the point of being incomprehensible sometimes
- Solid Snake's extremely limited hit box, and how frustrating it is to guess how close to get to an enemy to be able to hit them without actually bumping into them
- Killing a guard, entering a truck to get an item, coming back out to find that the guard has not only respawned, but he automatically faces in your direction, and pumps 3 or 4 bullets into you before you can reach him
- Dogs that sense you when you get close to them and are laid out in a way that you can't possibly avoid them
- A "Lost Woods"-like maze not four screens into the game that gives you no clues at all about what directions you have to travel in to get through it

Unless this game really gets you off within the first ten minutes, it's best to just quit at this point, because it never gets any better - just more of the same frustration but compounded even more as you go. Trust me, I've tried.

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Gameplay Video
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