Snake’s Revenge (NES)

Snake's Revenge Box Art

Snake’s Revenge

System: NES

Release Date: April 1990

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Ultra Games

Genre: Action

Metal Gear 2, this is not, as it is Snake’s Revenge! When I got this game as a kid, I was so happy to continue the adventure of Solid Snake. Infiltrate Teristan and put an end to leader Higharolla Kockamamie and his lunatic army. Is he creating a new Metal Gear? It wasn’t until Metal Gear Solid that I found out Snake’s Revenge isn’t a canon adventure. But was it any good?

You’re dropped in the jungle and there’s only one way forward, so you go. Spotlights are searching for you and you only see black screen otherwise. Walking into the spotlight lights up the screen, but alerts enemies to your presence, so prepare for a fight. Your transceiver periodically goes off and you’re given instructions or some nonsense (that never changed through the series). Breaking into the compound requires one of your buddies to get captured.

Gameplay is pretty similar to the original Metal Gear. You walk around avoiding the line of sight of enemies while choosing the correct keycard to open a door. I really got tired of having to go into the menu screen and try every key card until I found the right one. If it’s in my inventory, just automatically use it. More unfriendly design is having to enter and exit a room multiple times to collect items for your inventory. If the item doesn’t disappear when I pick it up (like drops from enemies), then just max out my inventory of the item. Don’t make me walk in and out of the room, that just wastes time. How do you get drops from enemies? Punch them to death instead of shooting or knifing them.

You aren’t forced to backtrack once you pass an area, unless you missed an item, or want to stock up on something else. Alerting the bad guys is a recipe for disaster, especially in later stages when they chuck grenades at you. Not all of the items that you pick up are well explained in game or the manual. The use of the smoke bomb doesn’t make any sense to me in context of the item or what the manual tells you about it. The set pieces are varied and I appreciated them.

You get hints of what to do from prisoners you rescue and the occasional transceiver message. The transceiver is much less used than in Metal Gear. A positive is there are no mazes without a hint, and the hardest puzzle is probably realizing you have to blow up a bunker in the minefield area to move forward. At multiple places you’ll get thrust into a side scrolling area. These are platforming challenges that require ammo, rations, plastic explosives, and plenty of oxygen tanks. Snake jumps awkwardly and any time the alert goes off enemies run in from the sides of the screen. Stationary enemies have a strong line of sight, so it’s often best to crawl on each new screen. The worst is when you have to be in water and a floating robot electrifies the surface, causing damage every second.

Bosses are trial and error, but they all have some weakness that can be exploited once you learn it. Even the final boss falls to cheap tactics. The story is incomprehensible thanks to poor writing and awful translation. On the plus side, your mission is pretty straightforward and it’s difficult to get lost. The only real point of choice comes near the end in picking one of three paths, but you have to do them all. Picking the wrong one just means you have to do it more than once.

Graphics: 2.5

Everything looks good enough. Sprites are big, but not detailed. There’s a lot of greens and browns in background palettes. Animations look pretty good.

Sound: 3.0

I like the music and sound effects. Everything sounds like it should fit in some way.

Gameplay: 2.5

The stealth gameplay isn’t as tight as Metal Gear. I mean, there’s no cardboard box to sneak around in!

Difficulty: 1.5

You’re going to die a lot because of required trial and error. The side scrolling sections are balanced horribly. Bosses are designed to be a pain, not because they’re clever, but because they’re unfair.

Fun Factor: 2.5

I had more fun than average, but not much more. I remember playing this as a kid trying to find my way through, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite by a long shot.

Overall Grade: 2.4

Snake’s Revenge earns a C+. Honestly, it’s a disappointment from Konami, who has a pretty good track record. It’s worth a play, don’t get me wrong, but I expect more out of Metal Gear (and adjacent) games.

Snake’s Revenge Video Review on YouTube