Metal Gear (NES)

Metal Gear Box Art

Metal Gear

System: NES

Release Date: June 1988

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Ultra Games

Genre: Action Adventure

Here’s one of the classics of the NES library, Metal Gear! I played this one a lot as a kid and of course got sucked into the Metal Gear Solid games on Playstation. I’m happy to have gotten back to this one, even if the events were mostly retconned in the future. You are Solid Snake, plucked freshly from the Marines thanks to heroic performance in the Grenada invasion, member of Fox Hound. You are to infiltrate the base, Outer Heaven, and put an end to Colonel Vermon CaTaffy (Muammar Gaddafi was an important figure for a very long time) while also destroying his super weapon, Metal Gear.

Snake starts out completely unarmed and equipped with only his transceiver, which he uses to communicate with a few different entities. Talking you along your way is Big Boss (the manual calls him Commander South). You need to use your wit to sneak around, dispatching enemies preferably before they can alert their comrades. This can be difficult to begin with, at least until you find the handgun and can kill enemies from afar. Over the course of the game, Snake puts together quite an arsenal of weapons. From the humble handgun to the rocket launcher, there is a weapon for every situation.

Progress through Outer Heaven is blocked by doors that must be unlocked by a certain key card. This is fine, except you have to have the proper key card equipped to walk through the door. It would have been way better if just having the card in your inventory would activate the door. This is especially true when you’re in a gas filled room and have to take damage while you’re trying to figure out the right key to use.

There are bosses scattered through the base that you have to defeat to move forward. You can radio Diane for some hints as how best to defeat them, but they’re pretty easy for the most part. As you figure out your way through the bases, there are POWs that you can (and should) rescue. After you rescue a certain number, you rank up and can hold more ammo, as well as increase your health reserves.

The story is convoluted and throws some twists at you that aren’t really explained. Add that to the questionable localization and you have a game that’s a bit of a mess in that area. I even got glitched into the final boss without having to defeat the penultimate battle. There are also some areas that force you to take a leap of faith or look up where to go. The pits are super annoying, as I don’t know of any way to see them without activating them, which can block off your movement.

Graphics: 2.5

The graphics are fine, but they aren’t great. You can certainly tell what everything is.

Sound: 3.0

The music and sound effects are good Konami tunes, but I don’t think they’re as good as Contra or Castlevania.

Gameplay: 3.0

Everything seems to work as intended, but the mistranslation hurts in areas.

Difficulty: 3.0

Figuring out what to do is the difficulty and there are a few things, like the route to Pettrovich’s building, that requires a guide.

Fun Factor: 3.5

It’s certainly a new experience and a very good one at that. If only it had been produced with a western audience in mind.

Overall Grade: 3.0

Metal Gear earns a B. This is what Rambo should have been. Silent infiltration with some big set piece booms.

Metal Gear Video Review on YouTube