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‘Gone Home’ Expands the Territory of Conventional Videogame Storytelling

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Gone Home

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published March 28, 2017.

As a teenager, I felt I would never age. Yet I also knew I would, and more than that, I could anticipate that when I did, everything would change. So I stood then, with confused ideas about time. The future would never arrive, yet it was also imminent. Now, my teenage years were horribly boring and sexless, so I was certainly looking forward to some sort of revolution. It was only a matter of emerging out the far side of high school, into the end of the world as I knew it. Life is a succession of points of no return, and if we find apocalyptic stories about crashing asteroids and alien invasions so absorbing, it might be because they exaggerate this fact. Popular fiction brims with characters who undergo processes of self-discovery while everything around them burns, from The Lord of the Rings to Akira. Watershed moments can be as monumental as they can be personal and private, and though graduating high school or parting with your family are not exactly comparable to a tidal wave, such commonplace events can inspire fear and trembling regardless.

Gone Home is a coming-of-age tale, with a poignant twist to the heteronormative formula: Kaitlin, the protagonist – or playable character – is already an adult and is uncovering another person’s narrative; and it is this other person, the protagonist’s seventeen-year-old sister, Samantha, who actually comes of age, as she discovers she’s a lesbian. On top of all the awful pressures of adolescence, she must put aside the conventional trajectory of coming-of-age plots – which often deposit formerly adolescent figures at the doorstep of social acceptability – and learn to embrace her sexuality, even when doing so will be deemed immature and childish by others, especially her parents, who were hoping for her to grow up into a “normal” girl.

Kaitlin, some years older, has already graduated high school and has spent a year traveling across Europe. She comes back home – not to the one she left, but the one her family moved into while she was away – and finds it empty. This massive new house is alien to her, and as she rummages through it, scanning notes, letters, diary entries, leftovers, and lovingly rendered consumer products, she not only becomes familiar with this domestic space but also verifies her erstwhile absence. During her transatlantic voyage, her family coped without her, and as she steps into what is supposed to be her room, she stumbles upon boxes her parents never opened, containing personal belongings that were never placed on shelves. Perhaps, she feels irrelevant – or we as players do, through her eyes and body.

GoneHome

We hardly learn anything about Kaitlin, because the house she explores knows nothing about her either. This conceit partly resolves a perennial problem of videogame storytelling: how does one reconcile the player’s ignorance with the protagonist’s knowledge? Indie developer Brendon Chung, on the commentary track of his brilliant Thirty Flights of Loving, mentions this conundrum and admits he was not able to work around it himself. When the main character has a flashback or meets a secondary character, he recognizes the memory or the person, but we do not. We control his actions, but not his mind. Conventional solutions include: having the protagonist be a cipher, as in Zelda, or suffer from amnesia, as in Bastion or Planescape: Torment. Both alternatives set players and main characters on tracks of mutual discovery. As we expose the backstory, it is as shocking to us as it is for the protagonist, who is either ignorant of the world or has been detached from his or her past by a traumatic incident.

Gone Home takes a slightly more sophisticated route. Kaitlin pieces together the narrative of a family that no longer includes her in its everyday routine. She is an outsider to the house and almost a stranger to Samantha, because the sister Kaitlin left behind is not the one she finds in the documentary fragments scattered in bedrooms, studies, and hallways. As for her parents, they remain who they have always been, but as their secret desires and disappointments unspool from telegrams and letters, they are transformed in their daughter’s mind. Kaitlin ferrets out what her loved ones were never able or willing to tell her, and this is why our surprise possibly mirrors her own, solving the contradiction that bothered Chung.

Since being released, Gone Home has inspired heated debate, not only about its quality but also about what to call it: videogame, interactive fiction, visual novel? Even enthusiastic critics have struggled with categorization. Ryan Vogt at Slate writes, “Gone Home isn’t really a book, and it isn’t really a videogame; it occupies a middle ground, a narrative territory not much charted.” Carmen Machado at the Los Angeles Review of Books claims, “The word ‘game’ seems insufficient to describe the experience of Gone Home,” though she does call it both a “game” and a “videogame” throughout her article. My own position, actually, falls closer to what Christian Nutt puts forth in Gamasutra: “If Gone Home is just a rewarmed adventure game, what’s with the huge reaction?” He’s more critical than I would be, but his argument is sound. There is little that distinguishes this title from a typical adventure game. Naysayers condemn it to a fuzzy and uncategorized valley, while supporters hail it as the medium’s bright destiny, but Gone Home is the heir of a storied videogame tradition, harkening back to Infocom’s text adventures in the 80s.

Admittedly, in this game, the accent is placed on reading rather than on playing, but both activities are required. We manipulate papers, open cupboard, locate secret compartments, and unlock doors, as we advance towards a specific goal, the attic where we find out what happened to Samantha. Taking a page from classic videogames, from Zelda to Metroid and Castlevania, parts of the house are closed off at first, and only by diligently checking every interactive item, some of which are sneaked below piles of books or under false drawer bottoms, can they be accessed. We gather information and maintain an inventory, infiltrating locked wings of an intricate domestic maze. None of this is very difficult, but it constitutes a challenge, if not a very demanding one. Without our interaction, there is no path to a conclusion, and this interaction requires not only a survey of documents, but also a productive use of them: we find a key through a locker combination acquired by analyzing a map. Gone Home even flirts with tropes from the horror genre, endowing the literary scavenger hunt with urgency and supernatural menace. The house is said to be haunted, and its shadowy corridors and flickering light-bulbs seem to confirm the legend; and in one bathroom, red hair dye spilled on a tub immediately reminds of blood, priming us to expect the worst.

Although dated, a well-known article by game designer and theorist Greg Costikyan, “I Have No Words and I Must Design,” comes immediately to mind. In this essay, the author maintains, “Interactive entertainment means games.” He defines a “game” as an “interactive structure of endogenous meaning that requires players to struggle towards a goal,” and then asks, “What kind of interactive entertainment could be something other than this?” According to Costikyan, no kind at all, except for certain sorts of “interactive storybooks” that “basically no longer exist, except as games.” Certainly, Gone Home fits his definition. Players reach the attic only by struggling – easily or not, doesn’t matter – through textual material, looking for clues that not only tell a story but open up a house to their navigation. Which suggests the structure in question is definitely interactive, while its meanings are certainly “endogenous.” That is, “the form contextualizes itself” and “provides meanings that make sense in the context of the work itself,” like in “film and music and novels.”

Beyond such formal concerns, though, Gone Home is also marketed as a videogame, sold in videogame marketplaces like Steam, reviewed in the videogame press, and incorporated into the video game cultural conversation. Player movement is determined by keyboard and mouse, like in a typical first person shooter, while the parsing of documents and the activation of audio logs are based on models established by canonical videogames, from Metroid Prime to Deus Ex and System Shock 2, to say nothing of Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and the latter’s expansion, Minerva’s Den, with which Gone Home’s development team got its feet wet. If we cannot call this a videogame, what could we possibly call it?

Gone Home SNES

Given the above, then, like Nutt, we might ask, “What’s with the huge reaction?” I would risk that opinions have been inflamed, both for and against, because of the game’s notoriety, subject matter, and style. It offers a script reminiscent of Young Adult novels, dealing with sexual identity in a mundane suburban setting, which is not at all common in the medium; it has received adoring marks from critics; and it can be fitted into a recent sub-genre, the so-called “walking simulator,” typified by the likes of Dear Esther, Thirty Flights of Loving, and The Stanley Parable, usually disliked by those who would emphasize the “game” over the “video.” All of these titles, coincidentally, find their roots in first person shooters, either lampooning them or deriving from them, which might account for the “huge reaction,” since they twist the violent conventions of an exceedingly popular genre. (By comparison, old adventure games were safe within the confines of their point-and-click niche.) As theorist Ian Bogost writes, in his considered and lukewarm response to Gone Home, for The Los Angeles Review of Books, “What would a game like Bioshock be like if you took out all the combat, all the violence, and just left the environment and the story?”

However, Gone Home does more than just remove the combat, it also smooths away nearly all bumps and obstacles, making progression as simple as possible. Most adventure games, from Myst to The Longest Journey, are notorious for their head-scratching puzzles. Even when they focus on storytelling, they nevertheless interrupt their plots to allow for extensive pixel hunting and the activation of arcane machinery. Gone Home integrates modest challenges and light inventory management only to encourage player involvement and organize narrative exposition. Their main purpose is to draw the dramatic arc of the story – because, for all its apparent clutter and freedom, Gone Home is quite linear. Letters, notebooks, and diary entries are placed so that we follow a loosely chronological sequence. Some jumping around the timeline is inevitable, since we choose what to read, when, and where, but documents containing later parts of the story await in locked rooms and chambers, stalling our inspection. This is what the game designers wanted, but I cannot help but feel that an opportunity was lost for real nonlinearity and more satisfying detective work.

This need for texts to be organized according to a loose chronology also means that the environment feels contrived. Bogost explains, “Environmental storytelling is difficult because anything less than ontological fullness breaks the immersive promise of a lived-in world.” For a “lived-in world” to live up to its “immersive promise,” it needs to include “a surfeit of extraneousness.” That is, useless objects, digressive materials, and intentional disorder, all of which might obscure quest-relevant items, but which would make their seemingly accidental presence more persuasive. As it is, Gone Home highlights its narrative path too clearly, and the ridiculous proliferation of cabinets and drawers, some of which contain oddly isolated pages conveniently singled out for our scrutiny, weakens its representation of a believable domestic space.

Still, that in itself is admirable. How many games have even tried to represent a believable domestic space? That is, without surrounding it with extraterrestrials, magical beings, international military conflict, and the end of the world. Gone Home is about events that are epic only for those who experience them. Samantha sheds the certainty of who she was supposed to be to embrace the adventure of who she actually is. She looks beyond the insular universe of high school and the cradle of her family, weathering uncertainty and traveling to a place few videogame characters have gone before – which happens to be much like our own, outside our computer screens. Gone Home belongs to a medium that often resorts to fantastic concepts to communicate similar themes. I approve of such feats of the imagination, but there is something to be said for a title that expands the territory of conventional videogame storytelling, retracing the boundaries closer to home.

– Guido Pellegrini

Guido Pellegrini was born in Spain. At the age of three, he decided that Europe would not be the only continent to endure him. He traveled to Argentina and spent his childhood there, confusing his classmates with his strange Spanish accent. Several years later, just when he was getting the hang of Argentinean, he set his sights on California, where he would annoy a host of new classmates with his awkward English. In particular, his classmates were stumped on Argentina's actual location, and estimates ranged from Europe to Asia and even Africa. Almost never, however, South America. As Guido became older, he finally began to master the English language, until he became nostalgic for emigration, of all things, and moved again, now back to Argentina, where Guido has continued to confuse and annoy his classmates and acquaintances, who now struggle with his Spanish-Argentine-American hybrid accent and word usage. At any rate, he's technically a journalist with an English major. You know, the worst.

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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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