Near the end of the 20th century, a small fortified nation named Outer Heaven (founded by a mysterious war hero whose name and identity are shrouded in secrecy) is threatening the nations of the "West" with the development of a new prototype weapon named Metal Gear, a walking tank which is capable of launching nuclear warheads from anywhere on the globe. As FOX-HOUND's (an elite black ops unit) newest recruit, going by the codename of Solid Snake, your mission is to infiltrate Outer Heaven and rescue your missing comrade, Grey Fox (who was captured after a failed infiltration), while gathering intelligence on Metal Gear.
In order to fulfill this objective, the player must collect various weapons and equipments (including keycards for further access into the fortress), while avoiding visual contact with the enemy. The player must also confront bosses in the form of Outer Heaven's elite mercenary force and rescue hostages hidden within the fortress in order to increase player rank, which gives Snake an extended life bar and increased storage capacity for replenishable items and ammo. The player can use a wireless transceiver to come in touch with their commanding officer, Big Boss, to learn more about their current mission objectives or contact one of the local resistance members operating covertly within the fortress to gain useful tips and insights.
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The original version of Metal Gear was released for a personal computer known as the MSX in Japan and Europe. The better-known Famicom (NES) version was released in Japan half a year later after the MSX version was released. Hideo Kojima, the game designer who worked on the MSX version, was not directly involved in the NES port and the game's was handled by a different Konami team at Tokyo. As a result, the developers made a few compromises from the original MSX game.
A different intro was added where Snake parachutes into a jungle (instead of the underwater insertion of the original), the areas were rearranged (and a new maze was added) and two of the bosses (the Hind D and the Metal Gear itself) were replaced by different.
The NES version was also poorly reprogrammed and various subtle gameplay aspects were modified. The player's gunshot's range were extended, the jetpack soldiers on the rooftop lost their ability to fly, you cannot leave a door open and switch to the item/weapons screen, the Lv. 3 or "double exclamation mark" Alert mode (where the alarm isn't deactivated until you neutralize all reinforcements) was removed (the alarm can even be turned off by using the binoculars and the soldiers will return to their default positions) and even though the areas were arranged, due to the room oriented nature of the transceiver messages, the developers forgot to move some of the messages along with it (for example, if you call Schneider in the area in front of the room where the gas mask is contained, he will tell you the location of the mine detector due to the fact that the location was originally a minefield in the MSX version). You can even talk to Schneider after his supposed death.
Hideo Kojima was reportedly unhappy with the quality of the NES version.