Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation remains one of the most popular titles of all time, giving birth to the Metal Gear Solid series of games which remain legendary for their excellent gameplay, captivating storylines and impeccable voice acting. People know all of this already, but what some may not know is that Konami also produced a Metal Gear game on Nintendo's Gameboy Color, nearly two years after the release of Solid. In Japan it was known as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, but renamed to Metal Gear Solid in North America, presumably to take advantage of the success of its Playstation predecessor.
Fans who may have seen the GBC version of Metal Gear Solid laying beneath the glass of the display case in video game shops may have dismissed it as a crappy, 8-bit version of a game they love for the small screen. Those people, however, would be dramatically incorrect in their assessment. Featuring a brand-new story, surprisingly solid (no pun intended) graphics, and effective, familiar gameplay, Metal Gear Solid on the Gameboy color stands as one of the most impressive Gameboy titles of all time. There are many modes of play in this game, but for this review, we'll focus on the main game as well as the VR Missions.
This non-canon story follows Solid Snake seven years after his mission at Outer Heaven. Recruited by Colonel Cambell to defuse another potential world disaster, Snake finds himself back in Galuade to confront the demons of the past as well as the demons of today. This time the terrorist struggle is spearheaded by a renegade group of elite soldiers known collectively as Black Chamber, each member boasting a dangerous special ability. Heading this group is Black Art Viper, a vindictive near-insane warrior specializing in tricks and traps.Snake must stop the terrorists from utilizing a new model of Metal Gear to launch a nuclear weapon.
|An inauspicious start to the mission.|
|And are you related to Sephiroth?|
The gameplay of Metal Gear Solid on the GBC is the most impressive part of the game. Controls are responsive and movement is fluid and easy to handle. Despite the simplified design, the game incorporates many of the themes seen in the Playstation release. Stealth is a premium in this game, and the player is able to utilize many techniques to achieve it, including wall-hugging, tapping a wall to lure an enemy, crawling on the ground or into a crawl space, as well as in tall grass or under water to remain unseen. The player can also travel through the air ducts either to remain unseen or to gain access to an otherwise unreachable area. Controlling Snake is easy to learn with few detracting quirks.
|Good thing snake isn't claustrophobic.|
The in-game arsenal offered to the player is a bit smaller, including a Pistol, Assault rifle, C4 explosives, Landmines, Grenades, Chaff Grenades, Stun Grenades, and Nikita Missiles. It's enough to keep things more interesting although as with most Metal Gear games, most of your time is reasonably spent with just the pistol or the assault rifle in the case of large fights. Items such as body armor, a gas mask, and a landmine detector make their return as well. The "Fogger" device, which emits smoke to allow the player to see invisible laser beams, is likely the result of censoring, as the device looks suspiciously like Snake's trademark cigarettes and is already in the player's possession at the start of the game. The inclusion of these gadgets help bring the game further into familiar territory and add to its complexity.
|And of course, when out of other options, the player can slip into the trusty box.|
|I wish I were that relaxed.|
|A surveillance camera!?|
|There's a reason Claude always lets Jacques go first|
|It's on like |
The implementation of the Radar is passable but not stellar. It helps give a general idea of where nearby enemies are but it's not great for much else. Unlike Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation, there is no differentiation between dangerous enemies or objects. Soldiers, cameras, dogs, incoming missiles and landmines all appear as a redish dot. It's especially annoying when in a mine field that also happens to contain enemies (although that tends to happen more often in VR Training). There is also no more representation of an enemy's field of vision, so you'll be unable to see which way an enemy is face, and how close is too close.
|In spite of the name this floor isn't entirely made of plastic explosives.|
Dying will either send you back to the beginning of the level you're in, or to the last significant item you picked up which, depending on where it was, could either be very convenient or extremely irritating. This is especially true for boss fights as dying there can mean a decent schlep ahead of you in order to get back to the fight. Certain items picked up between collecting the "checkpoint" item and whenever you died will have to be collected again, making death exceedingly annoying and paramount to avoid.
As progress through the game is made, you'll see that the game's story is not nearly as riveting as the console releases, but it's enough to pique your interest as to what is going to happen next. Snake's inner struggle with his own haunted past is as present as it ever was, and annoyingly, so is his subtle fascination with a female, fellow soldier. As the plot progresses you'll see the government conspiracies that made the series famous as well as the usual, (though not as jarring) twists, unexpected pathos for your fallen enemies, and even a moment of tragedy (well it tries to be but the character at focus is a little too irritating for you to care that much). And of course, the whole stopping-the-nuke thing.
|Snake considers himself more of a Bishop.|
|The evil polygons will pay for what they've done.|
As one of the most complete gaming experiences to be licensed for the Gameboy Color, this fun alternative to Metal Gear Solid is indeed a must-have for any fan of the Metal Gear series or just for those who love quality handheld gaming. With a mountain of pros and very little cons, the game is sure to be enjoyable from start to finish, and one that will have players coming back for more soon after completion. Even among today's highly advanced handheld titles, Metal Gear Solid is certain to be among your favorites once you've make the highly recommended decision to make it a part of your handheld collection. Overall a 4.5 out 5 cephalapoint rating.
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