The First Time I Ever Played Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear is one of my favorite franchises ever and my first taste of Hideo Kojima's masterpiece came in the form of a playable demo on a Playstation Underground demo disk.
Remember that program? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, Playstation Underground was a digital magazine that came on CD-ROM's that were mailed to you each month. Each CD had game demos, video previews, hints and cheats, developer interviews, and much more. I believe you could get them through Pizza Hut too, somehow. Anyway, it was awesome and a great way to try out the latest games, eliminating many blind purchases on crappy games.
As a subscriber, I got a disc every month and one particular issue came with a playable demo of the upcoming Metal Gear Solid. I had never heard of it, but the name sounded cool and that was enough for me. When the demo began I was immediately floored. The intro was incredibly cinematic, unlike anything I'd seen in a video game at that point. For some reason, the first movie that came to mind was at the time was Terminator 2. I was playing Terminator 2: The Video Game. Maybe it was the soundtrack or that Solid Snake vaguely resembled the T-1000.
I'd like to say that the rest of the demo blew me away and I completed it multiple times until the retail copy released, but that's not the case. See, I, like many at the time, had never played a stealth game. I wasn't used to having to sneak around and learned very quickly that the trigger-happy, Rambo tactics that got me through so many games was not going to cut it here. I died hard and I died often, but the sheer coolness of the game kept me from giving up entirely and I slowly began to embrace the way the game was supposed to be played. And once I did, I was hooked.
Sneaking and outsmarting thugs was a thrill I never got by just shooting dudes in the face. I was like James Bond; outsmarting the unassuming guards and making them look terrible at their jobs while looking amazing at mine. Codec conversations were cool and I constantly called my team purely for the novelty of it. I even tried calling other frequencies to see if anyone would answer. I was probably the most annoying soldier ever.
Unfortunately, my fun came to a screeching halt once I'd dispatched of all the guards and forgot where to go next. I ran around totally clueless for a half hour looking for an obvious opening to the next area and when I couldn't, I quit playing. When I tried again, I payed better attention to the mission brief and saw I had to enter the facilty through some vent but still couldn't figure out where that vent was for some reason. So I quit again. And again. And again. Let me tell you, I saw that first area of Shadow Moses so many times that seeing it again in Metal Gear Solid 4 made me scream a little inside.
During a non-serious playthrough where I just shot guards in the nuts and engaged in other tomfoolery, I randomly found the vent I'd been looking for. That's the secret to Metal Gear, kids. Act like a complete jackass, and you'll constantly progress. Exhilarated and a little furious, I crawled in, excited to finally see what was on the other side. And then the demo ended. If an infant child had been in the room at the time, I'd be in prison right now.
When the game finally hit retail, a friend with more money than I (we'll call him Richie Rich) picked it up about a week later. When I asked how it was, Richie flatly explained that he'd played it for a bit, hit a roadblock, got bored, and lost interest with no intention of returning anytime soon. Sensing an opportunity I proposed a trade: his Metal Gear for one of my holographic Pokemon cards. Yes, that's really all it took. Sounds like a ripoff, and it really was, but at the time, it was completely fair. Allow me to explain why.
I never had an allowance as a kid. I vividly remember my mom literally laughing at the idea when I asked for one. Why pay me money for the chores I should be doing for free since she pays for everything anyway? Damn her totally correct reasoning . As a result, most of my new games and toys only came on birthdays and Christmas with a few rare exceptions. Any new games I got before that came from trading with friends.
As a kid, toys and other things were just as precious as a video game. The right action figure, for example, could land you Ocarina of Time or even a Game Boy if you played your cards right; and no kid would find any wrong in that. Pokemon had just exploded in America at the time, so the cards were especially precious and holographic cards were the childhood equivalent to gold. I loved my stuff, but video games were my ultimate, so I traded many things, including a ton of Pokemon cards, to get games and managed to amass a rather impressive library of Playstation games.
I don't even remember which card I traded for Metal Gear; I think it was that dumb kangaroo Pokemon. You know the one. Once the trade was done, I gleefully rushed home and popped in the first disc. Since I could finish the intro level in my sleep at that point, I was inside the facility in minutes and began my journey through one of the greatest games of all time. Kojima must have made sure the rest of his games were idiot-proof because I never got stuck like that again.
Anyone want to trade their copy of Metal Gear Rising for a dusty Magikarp card?
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