- Snake's Revenge (1990 on Dedicated handheld)
Snake's Revenge is a licensed but non-canon sequel to the original Metal Gear for the NES. Three years has passed since the Outer Heaven incident. FOX-HOUND has gained intelligence that an unknown terrorist group has seized a remote facility containing mass-produced Metal Gear tanks, as well as a new Metal Gear prototype which was under development. The newly-promoted Lt. Solid Snake is called back into action to infiltrate the terrorists' base with the help of two FOX-HOUND rookies, former marine Nick Myer and navy intelligence agent John Turner.
The player once again assume the role of Snake. The objective is similar to the previous game, as the player must avoid any kind of visual contact (even moreso than the first game), while collecting weapons and equipment on-site. There is a greater variety of areas such as a jungle, a warehouse, a train, a couple of prisons and even a cargo ship containing the mass-produced Metal Gears. The player must also overcome new traps such as searchlights, soldiers in gyrocopters, door-sealing devices and even suicide bombers. The player must also interrogate captured enemy officers by injecting them with a truth serum to increase their rank, in addition to saving hostages like in the first game. Side-scrolling areas are also included in addition to the main overhead game, where the game takes a more action-oriented route (while still maintaining the stealth premise).
Credits (NES version)
Average score: 67% (based on 9 ratings)
Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 27 ratings with 1 reviews)
While the once adored NES port of Metal Gear is often looked on less fondly than it once was, Snake’s Revenge has always maintained a less-than-stellar reputation. Developed as an NES-only sequel and targeted specifically to western gamers, it was quickly booted from the Metal Gear chronology when series creator, Hideo Kojima, finally released Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake later in the year. Because Metal Gear 2 was never released in North America, it remained largely unknown by gamers here. This resulted in Snake’s Revenge mistakenly included in some articles that recounted the series chronology, and frequently considered the worst entry in the series. Considering Metal Gear was a bit of a mess, though still an enjoyable one, this left me curious to see exactly why Snake’s Revenge is so reviled.
Snake’s Revenge follows basically the same plot as the original Metal Gear. A hostile force is said to be developing a super-weapon, and Snake is tasked with infiltrating their base and destroying it. Like its predecessor, Snake’s Revenge emphasises a focus on staying out of the enemy’s line of sight rather than directly engaging them. On top of the many mechanics returning from the first game, many features that were cut from the NES port have been restored, such as the heightened alert status and enemies dropping rations and ammunition if you punch them out. With the heightened alert status, you can no longer simply walk to the next screen to escape enemies, since groups of them continue to swarm you until you kill enough of them. I actually have no idea what causes a guard to go into high-alert rather than normal alertness; it seems to happen at random. Perhaps they’re just sometimes extra surprised.
Overall, Snake’s Revenge is a lot tighter and more polished than the first Metal Gear. Enemy placement is greatly improved, so I had fewer instance of walking into a new area and getting immediately spotted by a guard or camera. It still happened occasionally, but it was even rarer than the MSX2 version of the first game. Enemies are now more aggressive and cause more damage than they did previously, so they’re much more of a threat, and sneaking past them is more favourable. Resources, like health and ammo, still reappear if you leave a room and come back, but rooms that contain them are less common, requiring you to sneak up on enemies and punch them out to try and stock up. This does have the unfortunate side-effect of facilitating the old item farming tactic, which may make the game worse off depending on how you look at it.
The visuals in the first game were in desperate need of improvement, and thankfully, Snake’s Revenge addresses that problem. Metal Gear’s horrendous grey and brown mess has been cleaned up considerably, and the graphics have been overhauled to make better use of colour. This unfortunately has the terrible side-effect of making everything look cartoony, but at least you can now tell what things are supposed to be. Snake now has a huge upper-body and looks like what a pre-adolescent boy would consider cool. There’s a lot more variety now in terms of visuals, and a lot of different environments, each with a unique feel. Different enemy types show up in different places, which is a nice change from the grey and tan blobs that you fought all throughout the first title.
While an increased difficulty is certainly appreciated after the rather Metal Gear, the unfortunate reality is that a lot of the challenge comes from an abundance of sudden or instant death. Just like in the last game, your health gauge and the number of items you can carry is increased as you progress, but advancing at an equal pace is the number of enemies that swarm you after triggering an alarm as well as the frequency of instant death traps. For some strange reason, pitfalls are carried over from the previous game and so are obstacles that have you crossing bottomless pits. The hit detection has certainly improved over Metal Gear’s making these threats a little less cheap, but the punishment for actually dying is more severe to the point of being very somewhat unreasonable in certain situations.
While most of my frustrating deaths were at the hands of the game’s many bottomless pits, the bosses also had a habit of causing me some pain. While I’d certainly say they’re a vast improvement over the first game’s underwhelming cast of baddies, they come with their own set of problems. Many of the bosses attack with patterns that are extremely difficult to avoid, and each one causes massive amounts of damage. I struggle to think of a single boss that wasn’t capable of draining half of your health bar with a single successful strike. The only way I was able to survive some encounters was by chowing down rations like Snake just gave up on his weightloss resolution. One boss is actually capable of killing with a single hit, and while it’s easy to outsmart, I took a few to the face before I finally got it right. Despite this and the problems with sudden death, the game isn’t unreasonably difficult, but it can certainly be punishing.
What hurts Snake’s Revenge the most is how it strayed from the actual world structure of Metal Gear. A lot of the charm of the first game was being left on your own to infiltrate the base and finding items to allow you to proceed deeper. This is dropped in favour of a more rigid and linear experience. Collecting items to unlock doors and take out enemies is still required, but it’s all laid out in front of you and available when needed. This does allow for more variety and less backtracking, but it does a great deal of damage to what made the first game special. That’s not to say that the new structure isn’t without merit – later games in the Metal Gear Solid series play out in a more linear fashion – it just seems a lot blander in comparison to the first game’s more open structure.
Aside from torpedoing one of Metal Gear’s greatest assets, Snake’s Revenge injects one new idea into the formula: side-scrolling sequences. Technically Metal Gear used these for when you got on an elevator, but these have been upgraded to full action-sidescroller status. Stealth from this perspective is something that needs to be designed with care, and that certainly isn’t how it was undertaken in Snake’s Revenge. Movement is so restrictive in these sequences that the only way to really get through undetected is by entering a screen when an enemy is facing a way, but most of the time, the enemies are looking straight at you when you walk in and there’s no way to stop them from triggering a mad rush. Then the combat kicks in and it’s horrible. The only weapon you can use is a knife or a pistol, and the pistol can only be used while standing. And to make matters worse, each section is practically the same and uses the exact same obstacles. It’s a mess.
What really gets under my skin is the fact that unlocking doors still requires swapping through keycards, one by one. Like the first game, you amass eight different cards, and not one of them becomes obsolete. Every time you come to a locked door, you have to try every key until it opens; there’s no way of knowing beforehand. I had to laugh at one section near the end of the game which places you in a series of room, each with three locked doors, all of them identical, and even with the full suite of keys, only one will open. That’s just cruel. How about just opening the door for me if I have the required key? Why make me fumble through my pockets every time I want to proceed through the game’s numerous locked doors? It’s a tremendous waste of time.
The Bottom Line
In what is very reminiscent of how I felt about Metal Gear, I kind of like Snake’s Revenge in spite of its many flaws. There’s still a lot of satisfaction to be felt in opening a previously locked door and finding a brand new toy waiting inside. Sure, it sometimes got frustrating when I got insta-killed while walking over to said toy, but the good times definitely outweighed the bad. Snake’s Revenge is a lot tighter and more polished than the first Metal Gear, but it also come across as a bit blander and more sterile. It’s an OKAY follow-up to the first game, and may be worth a look if you want to cap off the NES Metal Gear experience, but your time may be better spent with the canon sequel: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
NES · by Adzuken (836) · 2015
The first Metal Gear game that wasn't designed nor produced by the series' creator, Hideo Kojima. After the success the NES version of the first game had in the US, Konami decided to do a sequel specifically with the western market in mind. The game was developed by a team within Konami's Famicom division and the developers used the original MSX version of the first Metal Gear (instead of the NES port) as the basis for their sequel. Hideo Kojima wasn't interested in doing a sequel himself, since the original MSX version didn't sell very well in Japan. However, the lead programmer of the Snake's Revenge team met with Kojima at a train. The two became acquainted and eventually the undisclosed programmer revealed the development of Snake's Revenge to Kojima, saying that although "(he) was a fan of the first Metal Gear", he wanted Kojima to do a "true Snake game" himself. When he arrived home, Kojima began working on the first draft of what would become the true MSX sequel to Metal Gear, titled Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
In an interview with journalist Steven Kent, when Kojima was asked about Snake's Revenge, he said that "(Snake's Revenge) was faithful to the Metal Gear concept" and that he "enjoyed it".
This game is not a part of the official Metal Gear timeline.
The in-game dialogue in the NES version of the first game was translated by Konami in Japan, whereas the NES version's instruction manual was written by a writer Konami had in their US division, which were in charge of packaging and distributing their games. Konami of Japan had almost no editorial supervision over what the writer wrote in his manuals. Because of this, the writer would try to make his manuals as "humorous" as possible by taking any liberty with the game's plot. In the manual, the reader is led to believe that a middle-eastern terrorist named Vermon CaTaffy (a play on the name of Muammar Gadaffi most likely),is the bad guy in the game and that Snake's commanding officer is named Commander South. However, no such names are featured in the game's dialogue. In the actual in-game plot, the main villain's identity is intentionally kept a secret to the player because of an eventual plot twist. The writer of the NES manual (intentionally or not) ignored this plot twist by making a made-up villain that's not featured within the game.
Snake's Revenge, the "American" sequel to Metal Gear also suffered from a similar localization treatment. Snake's Revenge continues the plot established in the first Metal Gear for the MSX and NES and even has an appearance by the actual Metal Gear mecha (which was replaced by a Supercomputer in the NES port of the first game). In the in-game plot of Snake's Revenge, the player is sent to neutralize a terrorist group from an undisclosed hostile nation who are developing a new Metal Gear prototype. In the manual, another made-up villain by the writer named Higharolla Kockamamie (a play on the name of Ayatollah Khomeini most likely), is described in the storyline. The Snake's Revenge manual has even more banal attempts at humor, by describing one of the characters to be "related to Ginger from Gilligan's Island".
The writer of KoA's manuals did the same thing with several other Konami games, including The Adventures of Bayou Billy, Contra, and Life Force, where liberties were taken with the manual for "humor" without any consideration of what the original designers intended.
In the original Japanese storylines, every Metal Gear game pits you against U.S. Special Forces who have become addicted to war and who decide to start a few of their own. Perhaps because that wouldn't play very well to a domestic audience, Konami of America changed the storyline of the original NES Metal Gear game so that you were up against Third World terrorists. Snake's Revenge, continued this trend with its storyline.
- MobyGames ID: 7333
- Wikipedia (en)
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Game added by Kartanym.
Game added September 30th, 2002. Last modified September 3rd, 2023.