Every Metal Gear Game Hideo Kojima Didn’t Direct: Survive, Rising, And More
The 2018 release of Metal Gear Survive marks the first Metal Gear game since Hideo Kojima's departure from Konami. Yet it's most certainly not the first game in the franchise he hasn't helmed. While these games collectively fall short of Kojima's consistent track record, there are more gems here than duds, like Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which have each rated as well as many of the mainline Metal Gear installments on GameSpot.
For better or worse, it's likely that the Metal Gear name will live on well after Metal Gear Survive. If a non-canonical spin-off with zombies sounds dubious, consider the Metal Gear pachinko slot machine game that features completely remade cutscenes from Metal Gear Solid 3. It's a proverbial CQC gut-punch with a knife twist. But as a whole, this collection of spin-offs shows Konami's penchant for trying out new game mechanics, sometimes departing from the tactical espionage action that made the franchise a success.
Be sure to check back soon for our Metal Gear Survive review. It'll be coming in the next few days. For now, check out our livestream showcasing gameplay 10 hours into the campaign.
Metal Gear (NES, MS-DOS, Commodore 64)
Just as there are a dozen features the NES version preserved from the original MSX2 game, so too are there a dozen notable changes that makes the NES edition a brand-new experience. It begins right from the opening shot: the NES version has Snake parachuting--with three mystery operatives who are never seen again--in the middle of the jungle while the MSX2 game has him infiltrating underwater. There are differences in level layouts and how enemies drop loot, yet the most notable omission from the NES game was the Metal Gear tank itself--it was replaced by a super computer. Thankfully, the MSX2 version, along with Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, would appear in North America as part of the bonus content in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and later in Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.
Snake's Revenge (NES)
Given the success of Metal Gear on the NES, it wasn't surprising that an unofficial sequel targeted to Western audiences would follow. Notable alterations over the previous game included pre-equipping Snake with a knife and handgun, changes to how he communicated with his support team, and more side-scrolling areas. While it's not essential to play Snake's Revenge to appreciate the franchise, it does maintain some of the first game's emphasis on stealth and the risks of triggering an alert state.
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel (Game Boy Color)
Capitalizing on the runaway success of the first Metal Gear Solid, this GBC spin-off--simply titled Metal Gear Solid in the West--bridged MGS with the much older titles, stylistically speaking. It paired the static camera view of MSX games with the aesthetic appeal of Yoji Shinkawa's character designs (as well as the GBA could pull off his detailed artwork, at least). It had connections to MGS by featuring not only Solid Snake, but also Meryl Silverburgh, Mei Ling, and Roy Campbell. Its bosses, with codenames like Marionette Owl and Pyro Bison, used naming conventions similar to the specialists of Foxhound. It's also notable for referring to the playable character in the Special Missions mode as "Jack." Was this a reference to the eventual appearance of Raiden a year later in MGS2 or Big Boss himself?
Metal Gear Solid Mobile (Mobile, N-Gage)
For a non-canonical Metal Gear game, this mobile entry makes a strong case for inclusion in the franchise's official lore. It helps fill a narrative gap between MGS and MGS2, when Solid Snake and Otacon were pursuing their Metal Gear eradication goals through Philanthropy. It wasn't without its Kojima-inspired twists plus references to the character who would be revealed as Raiden. And for a game designed for the N-Gage phone, it was impressive that its mechanics and visuals weren't that far off from the original MGS.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GameCube)
This remake of Metal Gear Solid was designed in the style of MGS2 right down to the optional first-person view and improved enemy AI. Helmed by Silicon Knights, this GameCube exclusive was so well-executed that it was easy to play along with (or if you preferred, look past) Solid Snake's reimagining as a superhuman operative who can springboard off incoming missiles. For all the new features and cutscene surprises, it was a shame the studios involved didn't take this rare opportunity to add more connective narrative tissue between MGS and MGS2, like new insights into the mysterious Patriots organization.
Metal Gear Acid (PSP)
"Turn-based card game" certainly was a drastic departure for a stealth-oriented third-person action-adventure series like Metal Gear, but it proved successful enough to warrant a sequel. Pairing tactical combat with trading cards offered its share of depth and complexity, with cards divided into categories like weapons, equipment, and actions. And it was also notable for being the first Metal Gear game to have a multiplayer component, a few months before Metal Gear Online was introduced in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.
Metal Gear Acid 2 (PSP)
This sequel to the first Acid kept the tactical card gameplay with new features, like cover fire and the option to dispose of cards for in-game currency. Visually, Acid 2 stood out for being the only Metal Gear with a cel-shaded art style, which was complemented with particle effects and three-dimensional equipment boxes. It was also unique for including a Solid Eye pack-in cardboard attachment that created a 3D effect even though the PSP was not designed as a 3D handheld.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops / Plus (PSP)
A rare canonical Metal Gear not directed by Kojima, Portable Ops was anticipated for being the first sequel that continued Big Boss' story from Metal Gear Solid 3. Its Comrade recruitment system signalled a departure from the solo mission designs of previous games, and narratively foreshadowed Big Boss' destiny as a military leader. Portable Ops also proved that the third-person controls of MGS3 could translate well to the PlayStation Portable, despite the handheld's lack of a right stick.
Metal Gear Touch (iOS)
Two years after the release of the hugely successful iPhone, Konami would capitalize on the touch-enabled smartphone with Metal Gear Touch. Repurposing the events of Metal Gear Solid 4 into a shooting gallery, this retelling of Old Snake's last missions was an entertaining yet non-essential tour of the locales from the PS3 game, with appearances from characters such as Raiden and the Beauty and the Beast Unit. Unfortunately, it's since been removed from the App Store--though, anyone who's previously purchased Metal Gear Touch can redownload it.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
By the conclusion of Metal Gear Solid 4, no character in the franchise more deserived a spin-off than Raiden, whose lethal skill with a blade made him a perfect fit for Bayonetta developer Platinum Games, the studio behind Metal Gear Rising. He always bore similarities to the equally agile and lethal Gray Fox, so it wasn't surprising that Kojima originally envisioned this game as a story of the tragic character also known as Frank Jaeger. An equally curious fun fact was that--after settling on Raiden as the protagonist--Metal Gear Rising was intended to bridge the events of MGS2 and MGS4. Add to that the previously planned gameplay mechanic where Raiden would harness power and take information from his vanquished prey. Ultimately, Revengeance was set after MGS4, where its design and gameplay departure from the series felt appropriate in a post-Snake narrative.
Metal Gear Survive (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
If there's one thing Metal Gear Survive should be given credit for, it's for living up to its 'Survive' moniker. The unlimited stamina you could take for granted in The Phantom Pain? Gone. Not only do you start Survive with very limited stamina, you also have to continually sustain yourself with food, water, and in some cases, oxygen. These demands are stacked on top of the constant need to forage anything you can pick up for Survive's immense crafting component. It remains to be seen if its online component will have long-term appeal, but being able to experience a new Fox Engine-designed Metal Gear game is certainly its silver lining.