July 8, 2012
A quarter of a century ago in the Japanese home computing market, a Microsoft-sponsored machine called the MSX2 dominated. It had done so since launching in 1983 and, despite the rising fortunes of Nintendo and the Famicom, remained a key platform for the region's game developers. In late 1986 to early 1987 Konami was on a blistering hot streak, producing first Castlevania for Nintendo's Family Disc System then Contra in the arcades. Nevertheless, July 7 1987 saw the exclusive release of a new title on the comparatively underpowered MSX machine: Metal Gear. The first of what would become a defining series, it was also Hideo Kojima's debut as a lead designer, and did well enough to earn several ports (including an altered NES version) as well as a quick Kojima-less sequel. 25 years ago, gamers took their first steps as Solid Snake.Metal Gear is hard to see with fresh eyes, not least because of Kojima himself. The version I played came with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, a more or less faithful port but one that has had a slight re-touching. The original western translation is a bad one, and is replaced - meaning certain phrases appear with real resonance for series fans ("All-terrain, nuclear-equipped, walking battle tank") but you're not quite sure if it said that in 1987.