always messing with our heads

part of Metal Gear Month

Hideo Kojima is the mad scientist behind the most perplexing video game franchises in history. Always having been interested in technical artistry, movie magic, and the power of a good story, Kojima has crafted many many ways for his brain child, Metal Gear, to confuse and entrance us as well as leave us with an experience we will never forget. As we come to find out, the game has actually been playing US! dot dot dot.

There are many things about Metal Gear that set it apart from other games. But there’s three things I want to talk specifically about, here:
1) how the game messes with the player’s head on occasions.
2) how it can be self-aware sometimes.
3) how Kojima subtly slips in references to his own importance (lol).

Here are some examples of these:

– In Portable Ops during one conversation with Khazuhira Miller, he notices that another character’s name spells out “Kojima is God” in  another language. Then says it multiple times as if to shove it down the gamer’s throat, “Kojima is God, Kojima is God, Kojima is God… what could it mean?” Haha, clearly Kojima is just having fun seeing what he can get away with.

– In MGS4 during a boss battle with Screaming Mantis, the screen and sound suddenly cuts out returning you to a blank screen mimicking the effects of a system failure. But instead of what you would normally read in the top corner of your tv set – “VIDEO 1” or “INPUT 2” or “HDMI 1” or whatever – it says “HIDEO 02”. Then returns you to the battle after a few seconds.

– In MGS2 the colonel, after you realize he is bad news, starts to get really freaky and self-aware. He starts talking to the player instead of talking to the character the player is controlling. He says, “you’ve been playing for a long time, turn the console off”. Right in the middle of a mission he says that, freaked me out.

– Personnel who talk to Snake often talk about controls and HUD options without any attempt at disguising them. It’s funny to hear Campbell talking about terrorist threats, then start saying, “press the action button to call the elevator”. And Paramedic is always referring to SAVING the game…

– In Snake Eater, you can use one of the menu interfaces to make your character puke. All you have to do is open up the character viewer while in game, and rotate your view around and around, thus rotating the character. When you return to the game, Snake will puke as if he’s been spun around too much. And your stamina will drop.

– In MGS4, Snake has a “flashback” to Shadow Moses which allows players to play a scene from MGS1 with the outdated graphics and everything. After that, you are awarded a face disguise that looks like pixelated Snake.

– In Snake Eater, there’s often references to future events in a way that seems like a cameo. For instance, Snake talks with Paramedic about his potential children, then she mentions the possibilities of genes. Dot dot dot.

– In MGS2, despite Snake being the solely marketed protagonist and being on the game’s cover, players eventually realize you are playing as Raiden for most of the game. There was no warning of that.

– In MGS1, one of the characters tells Snake to enter a codec frequency that’s “on the back of the box”. Some of us were probably confused before realizing that the location of the frequency was on the back of the physical case the disc is housed in – the thing we bought from the store. Haha.

– In MGS4, Otacon tells Snake it’s time to switch the discs, like the player did in the PS game. Snake replies by saying we don’t need to do that, because we are on Blu-Ray now and can fit more information onto a disc.

That last moment is probably the pinnacle of what I’m talking about. These bring the interactivity of the experience to a whole other dimension. Such freedom is shown in the development of these games, that we are not likely to see in other games.

If you want more, look up Kojima’s ridiculous “Joakim” hoax to tell you what kind of sinisterly fun pranks he’s capable of.

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