is set in the futuristic Neo Kobe City, a city of madness and decadence. The year is 2047 (or 2042, according to the original Japanese version). Mankind is facing its gravest crisis. A mysterious bio-roid life form has appeared. Its true nature and purpose are unknown. Is it some country's secret weapon, or an alien from another world? They appear in the winter, killing people and taking their place in society. They wear artificial skin and can sweat and even bleed. They are called "Snatchers" because they "snatch" their victims before they take their place.
A new police force, specifically trained to fight the Snatchers, has been formed. They are JUNKERs (which is deciphered as "Japanese Undercover Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Rangers" in the English version). Every time you encounter someone, a difficult question must be asked — is it a person or a snatcher?..
The player takes control of Gillian Seed, one of the JUNKERs. The gameplay largely follows the structure of a Japanese-style adventure. The player uses a menu-driven interface to execute commands, which include moving between locations and interacting with the environment. Typically, every room contains objects that can be examined, leading to text descriptions and comments. Conversations occupy a large portion of the gameplay, with various topics available and a wealth of information about the game's wold and characters. A few parts contain light puzzle-solving elements, though as a rule the game is almost completely devoid of puzzles.
During key moments of the narrative, the player will be prompted to participate in intense shooting sequences. The goal is usually to kill all the enemies that pop out on the screen before they are able to kill Gillian. Some of such sequences are timed, i.e. the player is required to quickly shoot before another events is triggered, leading to the protagonist's death.
- "Snatcher: CD ROMantic" -- TurboGrafx CD title
- "スナッチャー" -- Japanese spelling
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English translation differences
Some dates, names and characters in the Sega CD English translation were modified from the original PC-88, MSX2 and PC Engine versions (which were the only ones directly supervised by Hideo Kojima
- The Lucifer Alpha Incident ("The Catastrophe") was moved from 1991 to 1996.
- The Sega CD game is taking place in Neo Kobe, 2047 — instead of 2042.
- JUNKER's meaning was changed from "Judgement Uninfected Naked Kind and Execute Ranger" to "Japanese Undercover Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Ranger".
- Gaudi, JUNKER's database computer, was renamed to Jordan — an ill-advised change, since Kojima later paid homage to Snatcher in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots by naming Otacon's computer cluster "Gaudi".
- Alpha-Bill, Neo Kobe's network computer, became Alpha-One because it was thought it could have been mistaken with German pop band Alphaville (both pronunciations being the same in Japanese).
- Likewise, Joy Division, the black market store, was changed to Plato's Cavern out of possible copyright infringement with the famous English rock band.
- Catherine Gibson, Jean-Jacques Gibson's orphaned daughter, was a 14-year-old teenager in the Japanese versions. She is 18 and has a rather husky voice in the English port.
English version Konami references
While the original Japanese version of Snatcher
had many popular culture references, they were largely replaced by characters from Konami
games and other allusions to that company.
One of the places Gillian and Metal Gear have to investigate is a nightclub in Neo Kobe called "Outer Heaven", named for the fortress of the villains in the first Metal Gear game. In the club are several patrons dressed as various Konami characters: sitting in the crowd are Sparkster (from Rocket Knight Adventures), Goemon (from the Mystical Ninja games), Jimbo and Sully (from Contra III: The Alien Wars), Mr. Ueda (from Lethal Enforcers), and Dracula and Simon Belmont (from Castlevania). Gillian and Metal Gear make some funny remarks about the various games they starred in (for example, commenting about how suicide rates increased when people played Castlevania because they always got frustrated when they found out they couldn't jump off the stairs in that game).
The logo of the black market in New Kobe is the same as Konami's logo. If you examine it twice, Gillian will say: "Hey, isn't that a Konami logo?", and Metal Gear will answer: " I guess they all work for the same guys..."
References to the game's creator Hideo Kojima are also present. When using the information database Jordan in Junker HQ, you can type in "Kojima" after loading the ID file. Jordan will give you some information about Hideo Kojima, the creator of this game - when he was born, what he likes and dislikes, etc. In the end of the file, a message appears: "Warning! Snatchers have crossed the sea!"
English version puzzles
*spoiler alert* The English version of this game makes a little less sense then you would expect when it comes to the riddles which requires you to input an answer in alphabet. For example, the queens hospital answer needs to be written in kana (kui-n) which was at that point interpreted as QUEEN in English alphabet, because here you could only input 4 kana characters. For English players, just "queen" in alphabet would have made this too easy, so they added the extra letter "s" to make the riddle more challenging.
Also, the riddle with Benson's name had a different purpose because Japanese kana characters are spoken phonetically. The "n" then would be a single loose character. There is also an amazingly lot more violence in the Japanese versions of these games! Also, try to phone numbers you are not yet supposed to know or to input answers you are not supposed to know. Metal will make a subtle remark about it.
Sega CD version cover
The blue stripes on the cover are different from all other Sega CD games. The reason? Simply a mix-up with the art files that wasn't caught until after they were printed. Nothing planned, but it was never fixed.
The original computer versions of Snatcher (PC-88 and MSX) contained two acts of the story, ending in a cliffhanger that was supposed to lead into the sequel. When it became obvious that a sequel wouldn't be made, a third act was written and incorporated in all subsequent versions, wrapping up the story.
The Japanese-only PC Engine (TurboGrafx) CD was the first to add the third act; along with streamlines interface, audio CD music, and enhanced visuals, it served as a prototype for all later versions. The only English release of the game, the Sega CD one, released exclusively in the West, is mostly identical to the PC Engine CD version graphically and sound-wise. It censors a few scenes with excessive gore and nudity, but also adds more interactivity and additional scenes to the third act.
The Japanese-only Playstation and Saturn versions feature updated graphics, a new soundtrack, and a new animated intro with CG graphics. Both largely retain the censorship of the Sega CD version, though the Saturn version is the less censored of the two.
- GameFan's Megawards
- 1994 (Vol.3, Iss.1) - Best Sega CD Adventure/RPG Game of the Year
Information also contributed by Big John WV, Kevin O'Donohue, Satoshi Kunsai, tante totti, and Vance