The Best Reason To Own A GBC –
Game franchises that are born on a console rarely make the transition to handheld systems. If this platform jump is taken, the chance that it will retain the same level of quality as its brethren is quite scarce. However, Konami proves that it is very possible to create a top-notch game built in the shadow of a big screen console version despite having a limited pallet. Pushing the GBC’s hardware to the max, Metal Gear Solid on GBC is nothing short of amazing.
This game was released in early 2000, after the original Metal Gear Solid hit PSOne consoles. Ghost Babel, as this game was originally called, was changed to Solid because Konami thought a more familiar name would help this game jump off store shelves. Either way, this stellar game will give fans and newcomers everything they could possibly want in an adventure/RPG title.
Just like the Metal Gear Acid series on PSP, Metal Gear Solid on GBC retains many of Metal Gear’s gameplay themes, but does not fully fit into the main continuing story line. Instead, the plot takes place in an alternate Metal Gear universe even though there are many references to previous installments. Solid Snake is recruited to help suppress a rising civil war in a far off nation. One side of this civil war has a Metal Gear, and if other political figures wish to get involved, they won’t hesitate to use it. Hence, Snake is sent in to figure out what exactly is going on and stop the Metal Gear.
Even though this is a portable game, it retains the same level of quality and detail as the console versions as a deep detailed storyline compliments the well thought out gameplay. The Codec can be used at anytime to figure out where to go next, save, or even just listen to background information. Snake preserves all his trademark moves like crawling, hiding, pressing his back to a wall, using noise to distract enemies, and uses an arsenal of weapons and items. However, in other Metal Gear games, Snake is only armed with a pack of cigarettes at the beginning of each mission. This Metal Gear game is no exception, except that Konami changed the name of this item to the “Fogger.” If Konami referenced tobacco, the ESRB would have gave the game a more adult ranking for this more kid based system.
The game’s single player experience would be an extremely hefty package for a console game let alone a handheld game. Sneaking around, solving puzzles, fighting some brutal but clever bosses, using weapons, and making Codec calls will fill up most of the time during this several hour long adventure. Along the way, Snake will traverse many different environments including deserts, forests, sewers, inside buildings, and even mountainous cliffs. Each environment pushes the color pallet of the GBC to its maximum potential. Character animations, especially the pixelation version of Solid Snake, are extremely well designed for the GBC’s screen. Snake looks, moves, and is animated just like the Playstation game, only in pixelated form. The designers and artists have done a fantastic job not only creating awesome level designs, but the character design and animations are top-notch.
What would any Metal Gear game be without boss battles? This GBC version has some pretty killer boss fights considering the handheld you are playing it on. Pyro Bison will generate a sense of fear as he is chasing you with his flame thrower while Marionette Owl requires you to use more brain than brawn. Just like the console Metal Gears, the GBC version does not skimp in any gameplay department, especially in the boss design.
Although the main story does not fully fit into the Metal Gear universe, it has many references to previous games. Mei Ling and Campbell make their return as Codec buddies used for information and game saving but Snake acts as if he has never met them before. Also, Snake infiltrates the exact same location of where the original Metal Gear (the MSX version) took place. And if you take the proper path, you can travel back down to the 100th floor basement and find the remains of the first Metal Gear Snake blew up. It is references like these that make this game a Metal Gear, but there are too many inconsistencies to be fully involved in the Solid story line.
The single player main quest mode is highly detailed and will entertain anyone who plays it, but there is still a hell-of-a-lot more game to enjoy once it is completed. First, players have the option to go back and play any section of the game. However, a timer has been added to allow players to break their own records. Next, a special mode will be unlocked allowing players to play through each section of the game, but with different parameters and goals. For example, one task will be: “complete the level without being seen”, or “complete the level without stopping. If you stop moving, Snake will blow up”, or “find and collect three Fox-Hound symbols.” Each level of the game supports three different tasks to complete, each more crazy and absurd than the last. This mode alone will suck hours away from your life, but you will never have more fun with a GBC game. Usually after a game is completed, players have little motivation to go back and play it again because they experienced everything the game has to offer. But these special missions remedy this problem by offering new and exciting ways to experience the game. Also, these extra missions are run by a mysterious Codec personality simply named “No.4.” With this mysterious character, as well as other important clues, Metal Gear analysts suspect that the playable character in these extra missions is none other that Jack, aka Raiden, from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of the Liberty.
If extra missions were not enough, then fans will be pleased to know that well over 150 VR Missions have also been included. The original PSOne game sold VR Missions as an entirely separate package, but everything is including in this GBC game. For every weapon in the game, there are numerous VR Missions as well as unarmed Sneaking Missions. Besting your own time will become common, as these missions are just as addicting as the main quest.
If Konami sold this game with just the main quest as the only playable option, it still would rock. But the developers only upped the ante but adding VR and extra missions aside from the stellar single player campaign. However, further proving that this game is not half-assed, the developers included a 2-player link mode. Most gamers may think that Metal Gear Acid, or even Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence, was the first Metal Gear game to support 2-player Vs mode. However, this GBC game marks the first for the series. Usually when gamers play 1v1 battle modes, the game becomes boring with its simple “I hunt you, you hunt me” technique. Even though this Vs mode does contain this basic theme, it does it in such a way that is entertaining every time. Spread throughout each stage are data discs. Once three discs have been collected, the player must get to the exit. However, some exits are fake, so finding the right one can take some time. The other player, however, is also performing these same tasks. If one player manages to kill the other, then his collected data discs are dropped. But, the only way to spot your opponent is if he enters your field of vision. This means that your opponent can literally be standing right next to you and he will not appear on your screen. Only when your character is facing your opponent can he be seen. This adds so much depth and Metal Gear-istic gameplay to the versus mode. Players have the option to choose which weapons and items to bring into battle before the game starts. Do you go with stun grenades or do you bring more FAMAS ammo? This Vs mode is a well-balanced mix of stealth, action, and strategy. This is also a mode that can only be played on a handheld system as each player needs his own screen otherwise it would defeat the whole purpose. This mode is worth buying two copies of the game just to experience.
The graphics are some of the best on the GBC. Not only are the environments and character models highly detailed and fluid, the game even contains many high res full-screened images. These images take the place of FMVs and act as story enhancers. Metal Gear always has a ton of cut scenes that explain the story either via Codec or FMV. This GBC version is no different except it uses images instead of FMVs. These images are so cool and detailed, I wish this game was Gameboy Printer compatible.
Each environment contains a wide variety of brightly shaded colors. Even the sewer level, built with mostly grays and blues, still contains as much detail found in the brighter green and yellow jungle stages. The developers definitely wanted to use the system’s color abilities to the max, not only by creating detailed environments, but also with item usage. One of the game’s earlier stages uses different colored cardboard boxes as one giant puzzle. Only certain colored boxes are allowed to enter corresponding entryways. This conveyor belt level will most likely be the biggest frustration about the game, but you can’t help but acknowledge the fact that this puzzle could only be made on this system (at the time anyway).
The game’s particle and special effects are amazingly done for a GBC game. Explosions and footprints are not the only well crafted effects in the game. The infrared goggles and rooms filled with gas will make anyone wonder how the designers were able to create these effects on the GBC’s small and limited screen. The Codec screen, although mostly built with a simple green and black combination of pixels, is still incredibly detailed. The graphics, just like the gameplay, are some of the best the system has to offer.
If done right, the Gameboy Color is able to handle many things well. However, the one thing the GBC is not known for is its sound capabilities. Even though some GBC games have some catchy tunes that compliment the gameplay, no GBC user is going to play one of its games for the music. The mono speaker can only do so much. However, just like the graphics engine, the music and sound effects push the system to the limit. This game has the best sound effects on GBC, hands down. Any Metal Gear player knows that voice acting is a huge part of the game, but the GBC cannot contain full voice support, especially for a game as text heavy as Metal Gear. Instead, the developers use sound effects to simulate voice. When Snake talks via Codec screen, a deeper tone will guide the player along with the scrolling text just as Mei Ling will support a higher but faster paced pitch. This effect is used for every character in the game and works surprisingly well.
The music also fits the Metal Gear mood. Many slower sneaking themes will be replaced by a frantic fast paced score when an enemy spots the protagonist. Each musical track is well developed and rarely repeats throughout the adventure. Just about every stage sports a new musical track, eliminating repetition. Each sound effect also compliments what is happening onscreen. Don’t run over puddles or metal grates or the sound will alert guards. Don’t shoot your pistol unless a silencer is attached or the enemy will hunt you down. Creating a detailed and impressive sound system is another reason why Metal Gear Solid is the killer GBC app.
With the release of Subsistence and its inclusion of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, it wouldn’t be a surprise if fans wanted to experience the other Metal Gear games in the series. Even after playing Snake Eater, fans will not be let down by playing this GBC version. The game’s presentation and production values contain the highest amount of detail. Snake’s solo sneaking adventure will bring players through the whole Metal Gear gambit of meeting a color cast of characters, double crossings, surprises, assassinations, action, and sorrow. But this whole experience is done so well with given so little. Despite only having two face buttons and limited processing power, Metal Gear is a game that proves you do not need high res polygon models, an orchestrated musical score, and a controller with a dozen buttons to create an enjoyable and immersive experience.
This game didn’t fully receive the recognition it fully deserved because everyone was too busy playing Pokemon. However, now that the Pokemon craze is dying and the Metal Gear craze is growing with the recent launch of Subsistence, Acid 2, and the future PS3 launch title of MGS4, Metal Gear fans will want to soak up as much Metal Gear as they can. There really is no better reason to own a GBC. The gaming experience contained in this little cart is nothing short of spectacular. The main quest, the tons and tons of replay, the highly detailed and vivid graphics, the high end sound quality, and the 2-player Vs mode completes the package as a killer app. Do not mock this game because it is on the GBC. Other developers should solely look at this game and realize that high production value are possible on handheld games. If you are still playing Pokemon, stop it right now. Go to your local used game store and buy this game no matter what the price is. Then go home and pop it in your GBA SP or Gameboy Player. I guarantee you will not find a better game for the GBC.