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2017: Looking Back at Some of Goomba Stomp’s Best Nintendo Articles

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2017 has been a busy year for Nintendo, which has made it an equally busy year for the staff at Goomba Stomp covering Nintendo. Goomba Stomp has covered everything from The Nintendo Switch to nostalgic favorites such as Diddy Kong Racing. Here is a collection of Nintendo articles, chosen by our staff, to highlight the fantastic year that Nintendo has had. Enjoy!

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Champions_(Breath_of_the_Wild)‘Breath of the Wild’ Isn’t Nintendo’s Crowning Achievement But a Gem in the Crown

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is easily the best game to have come out so far in 2017, and will more than likely rightfully claim Game of the Year and similar accolades come award season at the end of the year pretty unanimously.  While Breath of the Wild is the best game I’ve played in years, too many critics and fans have been over zealous when singing the game’s praises and lavishly raving about the title.  That may sound insane coming from a self-proclaimed Zelda fanatic, and I’m not arguing that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t a near flawless, playable work of art or that a ‘ten out of ten’ is an unmerited score for the game… (read the full article)

‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ will leave you in a state of rapturous, awestruck bliss

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterclass in open-world design and with its release comes a true watershed moment in gaming history. The result is nothing less than magical. It artfully blends the best bits of the franchise’s thirty-plus year history and produces a sandbox so full of mystery and so full of adventure, it could take you well over 100 hours to uncover most of its secrets. There’s just so much to do that publishing a full review this early would do the game an injustice. What we have here is the most ambitious title in the history of the franchise; an epic journey that quivers with anticipation, wonder, surprise and excitement. It never gets old. It never gets tiring. There’s not a minute that goes by in which you’ll want to put down the controller because Breath of the Wild keeps players constantly curious and fascinated by the world around them. There’s truly something unusually, haunting and engrossing about the game and whatever your opinion on the Nintendo Switch, Breath of the Wild is arguably one of the greatest games ever made… (read the full article)

3DS_MetroidSamusReturns_char_01

‘Metroid Prime’: Dissection of a Masterpiece

There’s no question that Metroid Prime is an immersive and timeless masterpiece which is as well polished as any release by Nintendo. While the GameCube was known for classic games with timeless art styles, such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind WakerPrime is perhaps the only major game in Nintendo’s history that can tout timelessness as well as realistic graphical fidelity nearly fourteen years after its original release… (read the full article)

‘Metroid: Samus Returns’ Damn Well Lives Up To The Unsustainable Hype

The Metroid franchise deserves all, and any, praise it has received over the years, if only for launching a winning formula, and one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises. From the NES debut, to the Super Nintendo classic, to the underrated handheld entries, and the 3D debut, with the Prime series, the Metroid games have, for the most part, been providing fans with countless hours of high-quality entertainment. Nintendo’s sci-fi series helped pioneer the idea of non-linear exploration, and, even after 30 years, its influence on the industry is still felt. In the three-plus decades since Metroid first launched, there have been countless imitators, many forgotten and some beloved, yet despite the number of games that can trace their lineage back to Samus Aran’s first adventure, none, in this critic’s eyes, have come close to equaling the level of artistry found in the best of the Metroid series… (read the full article)

 

The Many Firsts of ‘Metroid Prime’

This is just a fraction of the overwhelming praise Metroid Prime received when it released this day, 15 years ago. After skipping the Nintendo 64 console entirely, fans were apprehensive about the franchise’s transition to first-person 3D, to say the least. However, those apprehensions were blown away upon the game’s release as they witnessed the title revolutionize the Metroid formula in such a way that still remained true to the series’ roots… (read the full article)

SuperMarioOdyssey2‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Review: Brilliantly Bodacious, Ingeniously Incredible

Super Mario Odyssey is arguably the most bombastically big video game release of this entire year (being rivaled only by another Nintendo home run: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). With such an overwhelming degree of anticipation surrounding it, and knowledge that the probability of it failing to reach the lofty expectations of Mario fanatics the world over is more unlikely than the announcement of an Animal Crossing title set within an abattoir, it comes as no surprise that Super Mario Odyssey is brilliantly bodacious, ingeniously incredible, and wonderfully wild from beginning to end… (read the full review)

Mario and Movement- The Evolution of a 3D Platformer

Movement in a platformer is probably something you don’t think about too much. Not necessarily things like how to make a jump, but rather how fun that jump is to make, or how that jump affects the design of the game world. Mario is one of the quintessential platformer franchises in both 2D and 3D, and Odyssey is one of the smoothest experiences I’ve had playing this genre, Mario or not. This is because Super Mario Odyssey builds itself on a 20 year legacy of experimentation, success, and failure in terms of design choices for 3D Mario titles. Each of the main 3D games brought something new or tried to experiment with things that previous iterations had not done yet. So, let’s take a quick look at how design and movement were used in the main 3D Mario games… (read the full article)

‘Super Mario Odyssey’: Distinctly Japanese, Uniquely Nintendo, and Fundamentally Fun

At 24 years old, Shigeru Miyamoto was a drifting renaissance man. A recent art school graduate, Miyamoto was, by his own admission, a lackluster student. His talents comprised a wide range of artistic skills, from painting to playing the banjo. He was fascinated with making toys and other contraptions, a seemingly useless skill that would bear fruit later in life. In 1977, a chance meeting with then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi (a friend of Miyamoto’s father) resulted in the young man acquiring a job as a staff artist for Nintendo… (read the full article)

‘Super Mario Odyssey’s’ Ten Most Difficult Moons

Super Mario Odyssey is a joyous romp through a variety of charming and colorful locations that is impossible to play without wearing a constant smile on your face. Well… almost constant. Read some reviews of Mazza’s latest 3D outing and a fair few of them will probably claim that the game is too easy for the most part… (read the full article)

Translating Anime Worlds Into ‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Kingdoms

With Super Mario Odyssey being out for just over a week, the world has had the chance to experience first hand the wonder of its varied and eclectic kingdoms. New Donk City is a literal urban playground packed so densely with surprises you practically trip over them. Shiveria is a winter wonderland complete with underground yeti races. Then there’s the wackier Mount Volbano, with its gourmet aesthetic and eye-popping color scheme. The list goes on and on… (read the full article)

Joy-Conspiracy Theory: From NES Classic Edition to the Switch

Before its announcement, codename NX, the Nintendo Switch was one of the most eagerly awaited pieces of hardware in recent memory. The rumor mill was turning out countless theories as to what the console would be, the media was in a frenzy constructing click-bait articles, and everyone and their mom was waiting to see what the next Nintendo console, the one that in their eyes would truly make or break Nintendo for real this time, not like the Wii U, or the Wii, or the DS, or the GameCube, or the N64, or any of the other consoles that the public thought was heralding the end of Nintendo.  Nevermind that the Wii U, if underselling, was turning a profit and Nintendo owned the portable console market with the sensationally successful 3DS.  Fans and haters alike waited with baited breath to see what Nintendo’s next project would be.  And then, when everyone was anxiously awaiting any information on NX, Nintendo did something unexpected…they took to social media and announced the NES Classic Edition… (read the full article)

It’s Not Nintendo’s Fault: It’s Ours

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that last week’s Nintendo Switch reveal disappointedoutraged, and dampened the hype for a lot of vocal Nintendo fans, fans who have expressed their frustrations on social media, hammering new titles such as ‘1-2-Switch’ with a vitriol unseen since the dog days of the Wii’s motion-control dominance. A melancholic spirit of doom and gloom seems to have descended upon the Nintendo fandom in the past week, it’s inception the belief that Nintendo somehow mishandled the presentation and missed out on a golden opportunity to market the Switch to new customers. That statement is false, however. It wasn’t Nintendo’s fault for how the reveal went over with fans. No, it was our own… (read the full article)

The Origin and Evolution of the Fire Emblem Series

In recent years, the Fire Emblem series has become one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises worldwide. Fire Emblem: Awakening, released in 2013, launched the once niche tactical role-playing series to new heights, bringing a whole new audience into the fold. Still, the franchise’s history reaches way back to 1990. From the Famicom to the Switch, Fire Emblem has had an incredible journey filled with highs, lows, and evolution. Without further ado, let’s look back at the history of Fire Emblem by looking at the mechanics and characters that made the series what it is today… (read the full article)

‘Diddy Kong Racing’ – Still the King of Single Player Karting After 20 Years

Kart racers are inherently designed to be played with friends. Traditionally featuring on-screen mayhem punctuated with bright colors and charming sprites, the genre is not for serious gear-heads or fans of simulation. Typically, you sit yourself on the sofa with a bunch of mates and let the chaos commence. That’s a typical scenario, but Diddy Kong Racingisn’t a typical kart racer. In fact, if you want to truly enjoy DKR you might as well kick your mates out – you’ve got a giant pig wizard to take down… (read the full article)

The Wii-eulogy: Remembering the Gamepad

It is with great sadness that I write in front of you today to remember a console, a much-loved console, hindered by a lack of software and a convoluted introduction way back during E3 2011. With its predecessor’s inclination toward capturing the casual market through intuitive motion controls and dynamic marketing campaigns, the Wii U always had big boots to fill. Now, in 2016, with the gift of hindsight rendering the comparison between Wii and Wii U sales reductive, it is here where we can focus on what Nintendo’s black sheep did right, or at least what it was trying to achieve. It is here where we remember the Gamepad… (read the full article)

Games That Changed Our Lives: ‘Wind Waker’ is Link’s Greatest Adventure

I’d like to take a moment to point something out about the feature you’re about to read. Firstly, I don’t normally use ‘I’, but this is something very near, and dear to my heart as both a gamer and a person. Apologies for using ‘I’, but I couldn’t write this feature without it really. ‘I’s’ aside, this article is basically going to be me arguing the case as to why The Wind Waker, released in 2003 on the Nintendo GameCube, is the greatest Zelda adventure to date, and exactly why I think that… (read the full article)

Why Nintendo Is Smart To Avoid Achievements

Last month, our managing games editor Mike Worby argued that its high time for Nintendo to adopt achievements. All the competing systems in the past decade have incorporated achievements, ever since Microsoft introduced them in 2005. Nintendo have been the only major console developer to not adopt the system in any shape or form… (read the full article)

What today’s 3D Platformers can take from the past

For console gamers in the mid-90’s, no genre shown brighter than the 3D platformer. Nintendo relied on Super Mario 64 to sell the Nintendo 64, much like they are relying on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to push the Switch now, and their sterling second-party studio, Rare, doubled-down on the genre through Banjo-KazooieBanjo-TooieDonkey Kong 64, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Meanwhile, PlayStation brought Crash BandicootSpyro the DragonGex, and Ape Escape to the table. The well dried up as quickly as the flood began, however, and platformers were jettisoned as a relic of the past by the end of the following console generation…. (read the full article)

PokemonGames That Changed Our Lives: ‘Pokémon Go’

On my best days, I can go to the grocery store, confidently maneuver a cart down the aisles, and comfortably engage in light conversation with the cashier at checkout. On my worst days, a trip to the grocery store feels impossible. That’s what social anxiety does — it makes you feel so insecure, so frightened by social interaction, that every other person in the world might as well be a Mean Girl. It’s harrowing, crippling, debilitating, and it envelops you so deeply within your own neuroses that you can’t see through them until its petrifying spell wears off…(read the full article)

‘Pokémon Gold and Silver’ Remain the Greatest Pokémon Games

At last estimate, there were 802 pokémon in the Pokémon World, with Marshadow the latest to be discovered. Back when Pokémon Gold and Silver were released, there was a measly 251 pokémon; an additional 100 pokémon were added for generation two. With so many new dynamics added to the latest Pokémon games, it might be surprising to find that Pokémon Gold and Silver remain the strongest titles in the series, and even more astonishingly, how the successors were influenced more by Pokémon Gold and Silver than they were Pokémon Red and Blue… (read the full article)

To the Moon and Back: Where Should ‘Pokémon’ Go Now?

Pokémon Sun and Moon mark the second new generation of Pokémon introduced on the Nintendo 3DS and the third overall generation featured on the handheld, matching the long-winded DS run. While the DS featured more Pokémon games overall (a staggering nine total main series games), Sun and Moon pushed the franchise further than it’s ever been pushed, expanding upon the concept of what a Pokémon game could be, and all but pushing the 3DS hardware to its limit. All of this to say that with consideration that Nintendo has new, portable hardware on the market, Pokémon’s time on the 3DS is presumably drawing to a close. In a post-Pokémon Sun and Moon world, where do Game Freak and the Pokémon Company take the franchise next? (read the full article)

‘Mario + Rabbids’: Good As The Sum of its Parts

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was already interesting from its many leaks, but when revealed as an XCOM: Enemy Unknown-like at this year’s E3, the gaming public lost their collective minds. On the surface, the fact that Nintendo characters were entering overwatch or hiding behind cover with the camera swinging around dramatically, was creative and unexpected enough to allay concerns over the Raving Rabbids being involved… (read the full review)

Endless in the Best Way: ‘Disgaea 5 Complete’ Review

There are few names that really ring off in Strategy-RPG circles: Final Fantasy TacticsAdvance WarsValkyria Chronicles. Amongst them firmly sits Disgaea, a franchise that’s been almost exclusive to Sony barring 2008’s Disgaea DS. Despite being well respected by fans of the genre, however, Disgaea never really took off in the West in the same way Tactics and Fire Emblem did. Nippon Ichi Software has therefore taken a bit of a gamble by localizing and porting Disgaea 5 Complete to the Switch. And you know what? It’s paid off in spades… (read the full review)

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

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‘New Super Lucky’s Tale’ is Polished, Pleasing Platforming

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Streamlined, focused, and tons of fun, New Super Lucky’s Tale is a fantastic reworking for the Switch that absolutely nails the lighter side of Nintendo-style 3D platforming. Tight controls and a nearly flawless camera support running and jumping challenges which more often than not emphasize creativity over complexity, and it’s all set against a colorful, pun-filled, charming world full of quirky characters and light satire. Though the experience is not as epic or razzle-dazzle as something like Super Mario Odyssey, developer Playful has wisely trimmed the collect-a-thon fat that so many others in the genre employ in order to pad play time. The result lasts long enough to satisfy, yet also instills a fervent desire to see more adventures from its fearless, furry hero.

New Super Lucky's Tale carnival

In the fine tradition of its gaming ancestors dating back to the N64 days, the basics of New Super Lucky’s Tale revolve around acquiring arbitrary objects sprinkled through various stages in order to unlock doors and move on to the next area. This time it’s pages from the mystical Book of Ages, which contains the power to travel between worlds, and is the endgame of an nefarious cat sorcerer named Jinx and his gang of cartoonish thugs, the Kitty Litter. As part of a secret organization sworn to defending this kiddie-friendly Necronomicon knockoff, it’s up to Lucky to track down as many of these clover-embossed pages as he possibly can, and hopefully complete the book before his nemesis can get his claws on it.

It’s doubtful that the story will be what compels most players to keep going, and to that end, New Super Lucky’s Tale‘s simple setup also fits right in with its genre brethren. Still, Lucky is an amiable and upbeat fox to follow around, and Playful does an excellent job of surrounding him with a cast of gibberish-spouting weirdo goofballs that includes hayseed grub worms, supremely zen Yetis, loyal rock golems, and slick carny ghosts. Though their dialogue does little to drive any sort of narrative, it is endlessly amusing and often witty in its cheesy wordplay. In other words, the writing has a very Nintendo-like feel in its eccentricities that adds to the overall fun.

New Super Lucky's Tale factory

Those jokes would be less endearing without fantastic gameplay, but New Super Lucky’s Tale delivers some of the best running and jumping this side of Mario. Though this fabulous fox can’t quite match the plumber’s precision, Lucky does feel extremely responsive, and has a nice sense of weight and momentum that never feels out of control. He also comes out of the den with a well-rounded moveset, including a nifty double jump, a swishy tail (a la Mario’s spin punch), and the ability to burrow under ground. These moves can be chained together to create a satisfying flow both when exploring 3D stages and side-scrolling ones alike, and will surely inspire players to use them in creative ways in order to access seemingly out-of-reach spots.

And they’ll have to if they want to find all four pages hidden in each stage. New Super Lucky’s Tale requires a bare minimum of these leaflets to be found (and simply beating the stage merits one as a reward), but it’s in rooting around those nooks and crannies where much of the fun lies, and it gives the developer a chance to squeeze every ounce out of the unique mixture of environments they’ve created. From the assorted carnival games of a haunted amusement park to a beach party dance-off, there are a surprising amount of different things for Lucky (and players) to do here, with hardly any two stages ever feeling alike. One 3D level might task Lucky with casually exploring a farm as he gathers up the members of country jug band, while a side-scrolling obstacle course sees him dodging canon fire from an airship piloted by a feline Napolean. Some stages have a platforming bent, while others emphasize searching out secrets tucked away in mini puzzles.

New Super Lucky's Tale farm

It’s an absolutely delightful mix, and that sheer variety keeps New Super Lucky’s Tale fresh all the way through to the epic battle with fat cat Jinx himself. And though platforming veterans might find the overall challenge a bit too much on the friendly side, a few of the later bosses and and bonus stages may make that 100% goal a little tougher than it at first seems. And yet, it’s hard not to want to go back to incomplete stages or that block-pushing puzzle that stumped the first time around; the brisk pace and clever design will likely compel many players to find every scrap of paper out there.

No, Lucky isn’t the second coming of Mario, but there are few 3D platformers that offer such a polished, concise, joyful experience as New Super Lucky’s Tale. It may have taken a couple of efforts to get there (and for those who have played the original Super Lucky’s Tale, levels and bosses have been reworked here), but Playful has nailed a balance between creativity and efficiency that begs for more. 

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How Do ‘Pokemon Sword and Shield’s’ Max Raid Battles Measure Up?

Max Raid Battles are one of Pokemon Sword and Shield’s premier new features. Do they live up to their full potential? Let’s find out.

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max raid battles

One of the most heavily promoted new features of Pokémon Sword and Shield have been their Max Raid Battles. These gargantuan fights are both a key part of the online experience and likely the first taste most players will get of Dynamaxed Pokémon in-game. So, how’d this take on Pokémon Go’s raid system pan out in the series’ first mainline entry on console?

Well, on the plus side, getting into the thick of a raid is super straightforward. After the opening hour or two, players are introduced to the Wild Area and can access Max Raid Battles straight away by walking up to a pillar of red light on the field. From there you can invite others, challenge the raid with NPCs, and choose which Pokémon you want to use.

Real Friends Raid Together

Playing with friends online, though, is a bit more convoluted. There’s no “Invite Friends” option to be seen. Instead, all social features are handled through the Y-comm (literally accessed by pressing the Y button). It’s here that players can Link Trade, Link Battle, exchange player cards, and more.

After actively connecting to the internet–which has to be done each play session and each time the Switch is put into sleep mode–it’s up to the host of the match to find a portal and send an invitation to everyone. A notification will pop for friends on the side of the screen, and then it’s up to everyone to join the match directly through the Y-comm interface.

If players want real people to fill in any remaining slots (all raids are four-person affairs), they’ll need to join before the room fills up. Setting a Link Code avoids this hassle by creating a room but, unlike Salmon Run in Splatoon 2, only computer players can fill remaining spots after friends finish joining this way.

After some experimenting and fudding about, my buddy and I were able to hop into matches fairly quickly without much issue. Nonetheless, it’s hard to shake the feeling that creating friend lobbies is only such a headache because it had to be tied to the Y-comm. Pair this with the fact that battling while waiting for a friend to create a room can cause the notification not to pop, and getting a group together is a bit more painful than it should be.

Max Raid Battle Rundown

The raids themselves are a surprisingly engaging twist on the classic Pokémon battle formula. Groups of four challengers work together to take on a Dynamaxed raid boss. Each raid boss has a different star rating, and even the 1-star battles are no joke the first few times around. These boss Pokémon are merciless, and regularly one-shot lower leveled ‘mons with ease.

To combat these monstrous foes, one random trainer in every group is granted the ability to Dynamax their chosen Pokémon and lead the charge. The Dynamaxed Pokémon gets the benefit of having extra-powerful moves and increased HP, though it’s rather disappointing that there only seems to be one Max Move per move type (one Grass move, one Dark move, and so on). Each of these has a secondary effect on the battlefield; some trigger sandstorms, others trigger a health regeneration field that heals everyone a bit each turn. Regular moves with type advantages deal a significant chunk of damage, but it’s Max Moves that can truly turn the tide of battle.

If one of the group’s Pokémon faints, that trainer has to sit out for a turn before it automatically gets revived (a smart design choice to keep all trainers actively involved). However, the fainting of each Pokémon triggers the storm above to become more and more vicious. After four faints or ten turns, everyone is booted out of the raid sans rewards.

max raid battles

The Fruits of Victory

Two of the easiest ways to better your odds are 1) Choose a Pokémon with a type advantage going into battle, and 2) Manage who Dynamaxes when. Each trainer’s Dynamax meter grows periodically and, though only one trainer can use it at a time, multiple players can activate it over the course of a raid. It also seems like each raid’s star rating is tied directly to the raid boss’ level, so bringing a generally powerful Pokémon to a lower-level raid is another viable strategy for success.

Aside from the chance to capture the raid boss itself (and some Pokémon are Max Raid Battle-exclusive), winning a raid nets players some very worthwhile rewards. These include everything from EXP candies and berries to nuggets and TMs. It’s not so much of a haul that it hurts the overall balance of the game, but there’s enough to make getting a few friends together and grinding raids for a couple of hours worth it.

max raid battles

Though Max Raid Battles are just a small part of the overall Sword and Shield package, they’ve ended up being a rather fun take on Pokémon’s traditional multiplayer offerings. For as unnecessarily complicated as playing with friends is, there are also a few cool ideas here, like being able to join a raid from anywhere on the map as long as the host is at the raid pillar. There’s some good fun to be had here if you prefer to battle alongside your friends instead of against them.

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15 Years Later: ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ Is Kojima’s Espionage Love Letter

On November 17th, 2004, ‘Metal Gear Solid 3’ was released, marking the first entry in what would become a major part of the Metal Gear Saga.

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Metal Gear Solid 3

“After the end of World War II, the world was split into two — East and West. This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War.”

On November 17th, 2004, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater released in North America and Japan marking the first entry in what would later become a line of prequel games within the Metal Gear Saga. Big Boss’s story would finally be expanded upon in the Hollywood action game that forever changed the course of video game storytelling.

The legendary mercenary’s journey began in Kojima’s espionage love letter to the ’60s that broke the primordial gaming standards of both interactive design and visual storytelling through immeasurable gameplay depth piled onto a mind-boggling top-notch origin story. Snake Eater was only the beginning of a tale of how one of gaming’s greatest heroes descended into a villain through what is not only arguably the most compact and well-executed Metal Gear story, but Kojima Productions story ever conjured up to date.

Taking the Narrative Back

Metal Gear Solid 3
“Snake, try and remember some of the basics of CQC.”

Snake Eater ditched Solid Snake and Raiden’s current predicaments in a postmodern world to provide audiences with background knowledge and explanations for the previous chapters that came before it in what was intended to be Hideo Kojima’s final Metal Gear game at the time. Cold War political fiction and espionage thrillers from the game’s time period such as the Sean Connery and Roger Moore James Bond 007 films became the foundation for this entry’s story and tone; a balance of both goofiness and seriousness that is simply unmatched when compared to the rest of the series.

Metal Gear Solid 3 marked the beginning of a prequel series of games that would later proceed to continue after Solid Snake’s story had concluded in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the PatriotsSnake Eater threw players back in time to tackle the story of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake villain Big Boss, who was formerly referred to as three different names being John, Jack, and of course the iconic codename Naked Snake — the first character to take on the reptilian infiltration name.

Revolver Ocelot’s gun-slinging pre-boss cutscene was completely animated through motion capture footage.

Whereas Metal Gear Solid and Sons of Liberty questioned the fantasy aspects of the story, Snake Eater fully embraced the campiness that it provided. A gun-slinging, cat-growling GRU Major or a man who is able to manipulate bees are never questioned by the game’s characters. Nothing feels out of place due to how accepting everyone is of what is going on in their interpretation of history. The first fantasy aspect that players encounter is during the opening 5 minutes of the game when Naked Snake makes the HALO jump. The location the game takes place, Tselinoyarsk, is not the actual name of the location and isn’t an area of the world that has jungles.

Political fiction often comes into play during the story by incorporating real figures and the game’s characters into events that actually happened during the height of the Cold War. For example, Eva and Ocelot are depicted as the two NSA codebreakers, Martin and Mitchell, who defected to the Soviet Union. Weapons and designs featured in the game such as the hybrid screw-propelled metal gear, the Shagohod, are based on real blueprints for military weapons of the time period. While the story incorporates science fiction and fantasy aspects, the story still remains grounded and has its own limits even in gameplay.

A Whole New Meaning to Survival

When Hideo Kojima and Yoji Shinkawa saw the 1987 movie Predator, one concept from the film that stuck with them was how the technologically advanced alien Predator used camouflage within the jungle setting to stealthily take out a military rescue team lead by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Camouflage became part of the foundation for Snake Eater‘s gameplay that delved into the realism and campy side of the series. Players could swap outfits and face paints at any given moment to adapt to their current surroundings. The top right-hand corner has a camouflage index that constantly keeps track of how well-hidden you are in the environment.

Just as gadgets are a critical part of James Bond’s arsenal of weapons, Snake Eater saw the Metal Gear Solid series expand on the variety and utilization of items. The number of different ways to tackle standard environmental obstacles and boss battles was exponentially increased due to how many ways one could actually use their equipment. Grenades, lethal firearms, night-vision goggles, cigarettes, and even cardboard boxes all inherited a multi-functional philosophy that most players would never even discover unless they had experimented during their playthrough or were told to do a specific action. Even food became a weapon of war that could be used to poison and distract guards if it had gone spoiled.

On the topic of food, alongside the standard health bar, Snake has a stamina meter that must be ministered to constantly by eating foods found on-site and administering proper medical treatment. Animals, fruit, medicinal items, and various packaged resources must be collected and watched over throughout the game. All food items ran on a real-time clock leaving food to go unsanitary and rotten after a matter of real-time days.

The Beginning of Product Placement

Fun Fact: Kojima has gone on record saying that Naked Snake’s favorite CalorieMate Block is the chocolate-flavored line (rightfully for promotional reasons!).

The Metal Gear Solid series kickstarted Hideo Kojima’s constant usage of product placements within his games that are still ongoing today. These products include but are certainly not limited to clothing, accessories, toys, household items, and of course, food. Snake Eater began a trend of future Kojima Production games featuring real-life items that are purchasable in many small scale and large retail stores throughout Japan through the brand of nutritional energy bars and gels, CalorieMate.

The chocolate-flavored CalorieMate Block appeared in the original version of Snake Eater, while the maple-flavored kind replaced it in the HD Collection due to it being the latest flavor release at the time. Advertisements for CalorieMate during the game’s release showed Naked Snake holding a chocolate-flavored Block saying “If you wanna survive in the jungle, your going to need one of these.”

When initiating a Codec call with Paramedic after eating a CalorieMate Block, the character will question the legitimacy of the food. In reality, CalorieMate first released in 1983, contradicting the 1960’s setting of the story, therefore, making its placement in the game an anachronism; an object or person that is displaced in time.

A Legacy Worthy of The Big Boss Rank

At the time of Snake Eater’s release, although the game garnered a completely positive reception from critics with a 91 Metacritic score, it was highly debated whether the sequel-prequel was superior to the entries that came before it. Critics commonly praised the graphics and cinematics the game had to offer but questioned whether the gameplay was too complex for its own good. Snake Eater also had to ride the coattails of unsatisfied audiences originating from the previous entry’s lack of Solid Snake being the protagonist which ultimately lead to sales of the game being significantly lower than the previous Solid entries.

Over time, Snake Eater became the fan-favorite entry of the series and would go on to receive the most re-releases out of all the Metal Gear games to date. Most notably, in 2006 Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence expanded upon the online mode in the game and added a completely new third-person controlled camera system that enhanced the overall experience and became the right analog stick standard for future entries. Buyers of this version were also treated with the original two MSX Metal Gear games found on the main menu- the first time the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake had ever been localized outside of Japan.

Snake Eater 3D Limited Edition Bundle included a ‘Snake Skin’ themed standard 3DS (only released in Japan).

2011 saw the release of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collectiona compilation title that included an updated version of Subsistence — arguably the best way to play Snake Eater today. In 2012 the game also saw a release on the Nintendo 3DS dubbed Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater which included a new real-life camera camouflage system and multiple gameplay changes inherited from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker to accommodate the 3DS’s lack of dual analog sticks.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a true patriot that definitively holds its ground against the rest of the series today due to its creative liberties that the series never quite revisited in complete depth. Hideo Kojima and his team of masterminds behind Kojima Productions are well deserved of a salute for the tremendous efforts they put into creating a groundbreaking title that forever changed what it meant to be a cinematic video game. From its action-packed plot to its cinematic orchestra inspired-score, even after 15 years the pure indigenous nature of creativity from the studio never ceases to amaze audiences.

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