Kojima on 25 Years of Metal Gear, the Future of the Cobra Unit, and More

Hideo Kojima sat down with a group of journalists in a tiny room at E3 to discuss the past 25 years of the Metal Gear series.


GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Hideo Kojima is seemingly stuck in a never-ending whirlwind of travel, events, and signings, on top of his duties as a producer at Konami. Despite his rigorous schedule, a handful of journalists were given the opportunity to discuss the 25th anniversary of Metal Gear, and per instructions, nothing more. Yet, he still manages to delve into the past, present, and potential future of the series that has influenced an entire generation of fans and developers.

No Caption Provided

I think that you guys are doing a really great job doing a spin-off of a well-known series. How far do you go when doing that? I mean, it's not like it's [Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance], a Metal Gear spin-off that's attached to the series; it's a completely new genre. Do you enjoy going for a completely new genre?

Up till now, it's always been that with new Metal Gear entries. Whenever I've tried to hand it off to younger developers, perhaps they weren't able to handle the pressure, which is why I've always kept Metal Gear to myself up to this point. I thought that with Raiden as the main character, if it would be a spin-off, maybe there would be less pressure on the team and they could handle it. So, I handed it over to them, and they came up with the idea, actually, of the free cutting system and having it in an action game, and that's why I left it to them, and that's how the game got started.

How did you manage the translation of the HD remaster from the 4:3 format to the 16:9 widescreen format, in terms of internal changes?

No Caption ProvidedIt was actually a difficult process because once you make the screen wider, you end up seeing things that you shouldn't be able to see, which was actually a big problem in Metal Gear Solid 2, so we had to go through, scene by scene, and adjust things. One other thing we thought about doing, was putting a 3D camera in Metal Gear Solid 2, and bring it up to date that way, but unfortunately, since the game was originally designed with a top-down camera, once we brought it down to the player's level where you could look around and move, then it created a lot of problems in terms of seeing things that you weren't supposed to see, which is why we ended up sticking to the top-down camera. For each scene, to bring it up to HD standards in general, on in-game computers where you see lots of details within textures for example, at the time, we didn't really care what it said because you couldn't read it anyway, but now that we have such high resolutions, we had to go back and say, "OK, what was this thing supposed to say?" in terms of text, and we had to fix that.

Staying on Metal Gear Solid 2, you know, a lot of work went into keeping the big reveal over playing as Raiden from fans, and not everybody took kindly to that switch once it happened. Were you surprised at the reactions, and do you have any regrets about that, and do you love Raiden?

So, first of all, I want to make it clear that in the original Metal Gear Solid, Snake was this really awesome, legendary character. So to explain why I went with Raiden in part two, it made more sense that way. If you have this legendary character that comes into the sequel, and you explain that all of a sudden he dies, from a story perspective, it doesn't really make sense, and it feels out of place, so that's why we felt the need to introduce a new character to the story. Another level of that is we wanted new players to come in on Metal Gear Solid 2, so if we have new players coming in with this already established character, it just didn't feel like a good fit, so that's why we decided it would make more sense if you have new players coming in, to start them off with this new character, have them learn Raiden. As far as regrets, personally, I don't really like Raiden, per se, but Shinkawa-san really does like Raiden's character design.

For me, personally, the 25th anniversary has reinvigorated my interest in the Metal Gear series. Since you've taken on the role of producer, has the anniversary given you the motivation to get involved with the hands-on development of the future of Metal Gear?

I can't announce anything, but you know, I am making my own game right now, so I'm focusing on that. And, you know, I'm really busy with that project, so that's why I can't provide any new info.

In the past 25 years, how has what influenced you changed from 1987 to now? What influences you now compared to what influenced you then?

No Caption ProvidedIt's a hard question to answer, because I'm influenced by everything, you know, current events, things that are going on in the world, things that I've experienced with my family. All these things change, so everything is totally different. One thing that I do kind of regret is that I'm always so busy now so I don't have as much time for games as I used to. That's one thing I really want to try to do again, you know--play more games.

When you started with Metal Gear, when you built that game, did you think it was going to spawn this franchise and a spin-off, or did you just do it as one game?

So, you know, I absolutely had no idea that it would take off the way it did, and I approached every game thinking it was the last one in the series. This is especially true with Metal Gear Solid 1, you know. When I approached the game and started making the game, I didn't give any thought to any kind of business after that, so you know, I just made the game I wanted to make. So what came after Metal Gear Solid 1? I got more involved with the production side of it, so from that point on, things began to change a little bit, and maybe you noticed a difference.

In your 25 years as a developer, you've developed a very passionate fan base. What does that mean to you personally in terms of pressure, but also, pride?

I wouldn't describe it as pressure, you know. Obviously I want fans of the series to appreciate each new chapter, but at the same time I kind of want to betray their expectations as well, so I'm always walking that fine line of keeping fans happy while shaking things up a bit, but I wouldn't describe it as pressure. It's something a little different.

There are always rumors about Metal Gear 5, and though I'm not going to ask about that, my question is, have you ever considered making a story that just focuses on the Cobra Unit from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater?

So, I think I did explain this before in a past interview, but after Metal Gear Solid 4, I did have a plan to make a game that focused on the Cobra Unit. It would focus on the young cobra unit as they stormed the beach of Normandy and that whole story, but, you know, I couldn't take that story and give it to the team because there's a little too much pressure, and the younger guys didn't feel like they could do it properly. That's why it became Rising instead. Personally, I really do like that [Cobra Unit] storyline. So, because the staff said, "No we can't handle that," it became a spin-off.

No Caption Provided

We have the HD collection on consoles, and the HD collection will soon be out on the Vita. My question is, do you have any plans for distribution of older, harder-to-find games, such as Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel for the GameBoy Color?

At the current point in time, no. We feel that we've covered the core franchise with revisiting the games in the HD collection as well as with Snake Eater on the 3DS.

So, why was the decision made to not include Twin Snakes in the HD collection?

So you know, the thing with Twin Snakes, well, in regards to the original game, the graphics are very low quality, it would have been very hard to make an HD remaster of that game [Metal Gear Solid]. It would have been a total remake at that point. As far as why we didn't include Twin Snakes, that's a complicated situation. You know, it's a game, based on a game that I made, but it's not my game. It was by Silicon Knights. It's someone else's vision of my game. I felt that if I were to remake that, it wouldn't be my vision, and ultimately wouldn't be fair to the creators of Twin Snakes.

In Metal Gear Solid 2, we saw a change from Metal Gear Solid, in terms of the complicated plot. Do you prefer the more interesting and complicated twists, or the lighter, straightforward style of storytelling?

It's not one or the other. I like both, and my approach, I was reacting to how fans responded. People loved the first MGS, and it had a fairly complicated story, but then I felt motivated to make something even deeper and complicated in MGS2, but then people said that maybe that's a little too complicated, so then I kind of pulled back and made it more straightforward, focusing on narrative in Snake Eater. But you know, either way, it's all different angles and perspectives on the story I want to tell. I don't want to focus on one or the other. I just want to tell the story that I want to tell.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 139 comments about this story
139 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for GreenGoblin2099

I like Raiden, and I wanna get my hands on Rising already, but learning about the plans for a Cobra Unit game makes me want it even more!!! I'm thinking we could also see part of Big Boss training.

Avatar image for EgillH89

why is he asking about the gameboy color game? Remake the originals!!!!! I want to fight Grey fox in Zanzibar! experience the betrayal of Big Boss etc...

i mean, most mgs fans started by playing Meta gear solid 1. probaly like 95% of the people who played that game had no idea who Grey Fox was.

Avatar image for MurtadhaKamil

I like MGS its great fun and touches the player feelings no doubts its the best ever game why because if you look at the game from the early beginnings it preserves its level of goodness, ok maybe I dont like the involvement of new character like Raiden, but lets admit the character has added some flavor especially in prolonging the game age, also as a big game project sometimes you dont have to stick to one main character like what happened to batman in the last robin addition as a main game character, you have to find some new ideas to change the flavor of the game, so one should be honest MGS was and still the best, a game which contains graphics music story game play and invention. accept the best from an old gamer.

Avatar image for blackviper16

i think that this mgs is gone be one of the most badeist mgs ever

Avatar image for leikeylosh

Raiden is like John Cena of videogames. Nobody likes him, no one cares about him, but he keeps getting the main roles and the spotlight in every project. I don't understand.

Avatar image for da_post_office

@leikeylosh Uhhh... I guess "every project" means one MGS game and one spin-off made by a completely different developer?

Avatar image for leikeylosh

@da_post_office ....Yes. *Disturbing silence*

Avatar image for kleine123

I like the idea about the young cobra unit.

Avatar image for ChaosUndivided

They should put in the effort to remake MGS1 it will sell well. He should also place him self as a boss character who manipulated everything from the beginning in his final chapter of the Metal Gear Series.

Avatar image for Halloll

@ChaosUndivided but he worked for Big Boss in peace walker.

Avatar image for chaosbrigade

I love Raiden, but MGS Rising is going to suck, hard. I want a real MGS game, not a Ninja-Gaiden DMC rip-off.

Avatar image for da_post_office

@chaosbrigade I don't think you want Platinum Games developing an MGS game. Rising is a spin-off that is not standing in the way of a new MGS in the slightest.

Avatar image for istuffedsunny

Where's this new game he keeps talking about? It's been like 5 years since MGS4 and all we've seen are ports and a Ninja Gaiden ripoff

Avatar image for jubdeidamasta

Now that I know Rising was originally planned to be a game about Cobra unit. It makes me all the more nerd ragey at that game and Raiden. It's like making a Batman game and you only get to play as Robin.

Avatar image for da_post_office

@jubdeidamasta This is not MGS. This is not Kojima Productions. This is a spin-off. Platinum Games is doing what they do best with Rising. I don't want anyone but Kojima go do a Cobra Unit game.

Avatar image for Halloll

nobody likes Raiden, not even Kojima.

Avatar image for ChaosUndivided

@Halloll I didn't at first but he kinda grows on ya by the end of MGS2.

Avatar image for Alphgroup

MGS 5 and Snake coming back with PS4

Avatar image for Naylord

@Alphgroup No man that sounds terrible; I love metal gear but 4 was the end and it should stay that way.

Avatar image for RoMo666

"How did you manage the translation of the HD remaster from the 4:3 format to the 16:9 widescreen format..." Seriously? This is the 2nd question to ask this man? Who gives a F!!!

Avatar image for BigBoss19

I'm glad he doesn't like Raiden, because Raiden sucks. Snake/Big Boss are the MG series, even a Grey Fox spin off would've been better. Raidens the worst, and a hack and slash game is ridiculous. He needs to come back and do MGS5

Avatar image for wonzan

great interview.

i would definitely buy a game based on the cobras!

Avatar image for Truf89

I can't wait to see more Metal Gear Solid in the future. Hopefully Rising does well.

Avatar image for crlegend

MGS for the PSOne...I remember Christmas and i got a few games but all my brother and me really wanted to play was MGS. I knew the shape of the games rapped up in Christmas paper so I went straight for them, and i didn't see MGS so i got upset and stop opening my gifts (mind you I had a bunch of gifts still under the tree because all i went for was the games). My mom told me to stop acting silly and open up the rest of my presents, now by this time I was done with opening anything, so then I opened up a box that i knew had clothes in it and inside was MGS and a MGS tee-shirt. I almost had a heart attack and so did my brother and from then on me and my brother loved the MGS series so please Mr. Kojima we are waiting for more of the fantastic games that come out of your camp.

Avatar image for Halloll

@crlegend so who got the shirt?

Avatar image for xYamatox

Less cutscenes, more gametime, Kojima. These are my ONLY requests. MGS1 and MGS3 are your masterpieces, but MGS4 had the best physical gameplay (just not enough time to play around with it).

Avatar image for trembo_slice

@xYamatox Seriously. MGS4 has the best player control scheme of the series. It is an absolute masterpiece; they could maybe bring back interrogation from MGS3, but other than that it's perfect. There just isn't enough time spent playing on foot as Snake in MGS4. There are too many chases.There needs to be another MGS made with 4's player control, shorter cutscenes, and a return to on-site procurement (OSP). OSP rewards exploration in the initial playthrough.

Avatar image for da_post_office

@trembo_slice If we start limiting Kojima in his storytelling capabilities by demanding shorter cutscenes, we are doing a disservice to the game and creating an arrogance as players that will only result in bad decisions.

Avatar image for billy503

kojima is the big boss go all big bosses and I'm really eager to see whats going to come in the ZOE and in the future of the really awesome and GR8 MGS

Avatar image for ProHexen

Kojima is the true Big Boss!!

Avatar image for scarletsnake

Metal Gear Solid 5:

Give us a proper sequel to MGS3, Kojima! Those portable crap games out there haven't done Big Boss justice!

Avatar image for da_post_office

@scarletsnake Whether you liked the gameplay of the portable games or not, you can't deny the things they managed to pull off that are unrivaled in portable gaming. I happen to love them for it and without them, there would be a huge whole in the psp's library.

Avatar image for Granpire

@scarletsnake I beg to differ. Peace Walker is fantastic. It might not be MGS3 great, but it's definitely not even close to a "portable crap game".

Avatar image for Wula_

@Granpire I agree with this. And even if you play peace walker on a PSP or Home console. It is a proper sequel to MGS3. Sure it sucks that you get cut off at certain points. Due to it being made for the PSP origanlly. So people could handle the game in easy to complete sections. But even then that didn't detract much from the great gameplay and story that game had to offer.

Avatar image for hell_player

Rest in peace METAL GEAR ONLINE 2008-2012,Kojima need to make a new mgs soon!

Avatar image for LanceCypher

I'm amused that Kojima is such a well respected game designer today when Metal Gear was actually his last chance to save his job.

Avatar image for jusedi

Mr. Kojima is a GOD! He know's how to make a game.

Avatar image for mike9876543210

i just got metal gear solid 4 on Wednesday, cant wait to play it XD

Avatar image for deltabtry

@mike9876543210 I can guarantee you this, you will not be disappointed.

Avatar image for mike9876543210

@deltabtry i know, still haven't played it, how long is the cut scene at the start

Avatar image for da_post_office

@mike9876543210 I meant its not over 1.5 hours long that's completely ridiculous. But MGS4 is one of my all time favs for sure.

Avatar image for da_post_office

@j62987 All I can say is progress leaves closed-minded people like you behind. Plain and simple.

Avatar image for j62987

@mike9876543210 @da_post_office The cutscenes are long and boring. Half the crap they talk about I don't care about. Personally, MGS and MGS 3 were the only great games he created. MGS 2 was annoying and the plot was ridiculous. I remember my friend playing MGS 2 with me and he asked "when do I get to play as Snake." All I could do was lie and say "oh about half way through."

Avatar image for mike9876543210

@da_post_office hey now stop it, mgs4 is far too awesome to argue about

Avatar image for da_post_office

@RO-nIn187 lol no its not

Avatar image for RO-nIn187


lol thats nothing, the final cutscene is over 1.5 hours long! but its worth watching!

Avatar image for Pierce_Sparrow

I love the idea of a Cobra Unit game. I've always wanted to see a more squad based Metal Gear game, one that could be co-op. I am also very curious about Kojima's new game. Whatever the guy makes is usually brilliant or at least great, so I hope that he is in the midst of creating another classic game, like those in the MGS or Zone of the Enders series.

Avatar image for Nathalmighty1

Kojima is a gentleman and a scholar! I cant wait to get any sort of clues as to what his next game with the Fox engine is going to look like. I love the Metal Gear series and it holds some of the most memorable gaming moments of all time for me. Great story and great characters bring the series to life in a big way and I hope what Kojima does next will be bigger and better!

Avatar image for vallan2

great interview, but does Kojima really say "you know" that much? Or possibly poor translating on the translator's part? Just kindof bugs me...you know?

Avatar image for Pierce_Sparrow

@vallan2 He probably does say it a lot. It's like someone who says um a lot when speaking in front of people. It's a sign of being nervous, which I imagine Kojima is when talking to press about the Metal Gear series.