Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

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Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear 2 Boxart.JPG
Packaging illustration by Yoshiyuki Takani
Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Konami
Director(s) Hideo Kojima
Designer(s) Hideo Kojima
Programmer(s) Isao Akada
Toshinari Oka
Artist(s) Shuko Iwamoto
Tae Yabu
Tomohiro Nishio
Writer(s) Hideo Kojima
Composer(s) Tsuyoshi Sekito
Masahiro Ikariko
Mutsuhiko Izumi
Yuko Kurahashi
Tomoya Tomita
Kazuhiko Uehara
Yuji Takenouchi
Series Metal Gear
Genre(s) Action-adventure, stealth
Mode(s) Single-player

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake[a] is an overhead action-adventure stealth video game, with the tagline "Tactical Espionage Game",[3] that was originally released by Konami in 1990 for the MSX2 computer platform. The game was designed and written by Hideo Kojima, who also designed the MSX2 version of the original Metal Gear. Due to the declining support for the MSX platform by the time of its production, Metal Gear 2 was initially released only in Japan; an earlier produced NES game titled Snake's Revenge served as the Metal Gear sequel in North America and Europe instead. However, Kojima would continue the series years later with Metal Gear Solid, which follows Metal Gear 2 and features an in-game plot summary of its events. An English version of Metal Gear 2 has since been included in certain releases of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence for the PlayStation 2, as well its HD Edition released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita. The game was also re-released in Japan as a digital download for mobile phones and the Wii Virtual Console.

Set in 1999, a few years after the events of the original game,[b] Solid Snake must infiltrate a heavily defended territory known as Zanzibar Land to rescue a kidnapped scientist and destroy the revised "Metal Gear D". The game significantly evolved the stealth-based game system of its predecessor "in almost every way", introduced a complex storyline dealing with themes such as the nature of warfare and nuclear proliferation, and is considered "one of the best 8 bit games ever made."[8]


The ability to crawl under tight spaces and hide from enemies was first added in Metal Gear 2

Metal Gear 2 builds upon the stealth-based gameplay system of its predecessor. As in the original Metal Gear, the player's objective is to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold, while avoiding detection from soldiers, cameras, infrared sensors and other surveillance devices. The biggest change in the game was done to the enemy's abilities. Instead of remaining stationed in one screen like in the first game, enemy soldiers can now patrol different screens across a single map. Moreover, guards now have an expanded field of vision of 45 degrees, along with the ability to turn their heads left or right to see diagonally. The enemy can also hear any noise made by the player, such as a punch to the wall or gunshots made without a suppressor, and will investigate the source of the sound once it is made. If the player is discovered by the enemy, then a counter will be displayed on the upper right side of the screen that will go down after the enemy has lost track of the player. When the counter reaches zero, the alert phase will go off and the game will return to normal.[8][9]

The player is given a variety of new maneuvers and tools to help them remain undetected and complete the game. For example, the player can now kneel and crawl in addition to walking, allowing the player to avoid making noise over certain terrains, pick up land mines, and hide in tight spaces such as under desks or inside air ducts. A radar with a 3x3 grid on the upper right of the screen shows the player's current area in the center grid (as a red dot), with enemy soldiers as white dots, allowing the player to determine what's ahead. However, the radar is disabled when the game enters alert phase. The radar can also be used with the mine detector equipped to determine the locations of enemy mines or launch Stinger missiles onto an airborne target. Many of the weapons and equipment from the first game are brought over along with new items such as robotic mice used to distract enemies, a camouflaged mat and three different types of rations with special attributes each. Health and carrying capacity are increased each time a boss is defeated.[8]

The transceiver has also been greatly revamped from the first game as well, with conversations now being context-sensitive rather than being simply area-oriented. The transceiver screen now displays the faces of Snake and the radio contact he's currently communicating with. The player can also talk to children living in the fortress to gain new information; the player is penalized with a loss of health if he kills a child. The areas are more varied than in the previous MSX2 game and a number of puzzles must be fulfilled to complete the game, such as luring a carrier pigeon with a specific kind of ration, chasing after a female spy to the ladies' lavatory, and deciphering secret tap codes to gain new frequency numbers.[8]

The MSX2 version required the use of either a floppy disk or the Game Master II's SRAM memory to save the player's progress. Passwords can be used as well in the absence of either. These complexities were eliminated in the later ports due to the standardization of storage devices such as memory cards and internal hard drives to save data.



Solid Snake, formerly retired FOXHOUND agent and hero of the original Metal Gear returns as the playable character. His new mission is to rescue the kidnapped Czechoslovak biologist Dr. Kio Marv from the forces of Zanzibarland. He is assisted by a radio support crew consisting of Roy Kyanbel ("Roy Campbell" in later versions), his new commanding officer; McDonnell Miller, a survival coach and drill instructor; George Kesler ("George Kasler" in later versions), a military strategist; and Yozev Norden (renamed Johan Jacobsen in the later revised versions), a wildlife expert. Also assisting him on-site are Horry White ("Holly White" in later versions), a CIA agent posing as a journalist; Natasha Marcova (Gustava Heffner in later versions), an StB agent and Dr. Marv's bodyguard; and Dr. Petrovich Madnar ("Drago Pettrovich Madnar" in newer versions), the Metal Gear designer from the first game, who was captured along with Dr. Marv. Also appearing in the game are Big Boss, the renegade former commander of FOXHOUND, and Grey Fox ("Gray Fox" in later versions), who disappeared following the events of the Outer Heaven incident.

The bosses of this installment consist of Black Color (Black Ninja in later versions), an experimental drug-enhanced ninja from a disbanded NASA project (who is revealed to be Kyle Schneider from the original Metal Gear); Running Man, a former Olympic runner turned terrorist; Red Blaster, an explosive expert from Spetsnaz; Ultra Box (the Four Horsemen in later version), an assassination squad specializing in confined spaces; Predator (Jungle Evil in later versions), a jungle warfare expert from the South African Reconnaissance Command; and Night Sight (Night Fright in later versions), an assassin from Vietnam who uses a state of the art stealth suit that renders him invisible to both radar and the human eye.


Solid Snake confronts Gray Fox in one of the final battles.

A major oil crisis seriously affects the global economy in the late 1990s, with petrol deposits running out faster than previous estimates. Efforts to adopt alternative energy sources or attempts to drill for more oil fails to take up the slack. To counter the problem, Czech scientist Dr. Kio Marv bio-engineers a new species of algae, OILIX, that could produce petroleum-grade hydrocarbons with little expense and effort. He unveils the algae to the World Energy Conference in Prague and was on his way to a demonstration in the United States when he was kidnapped by soldiers from Zanzibarland, a Central Asian country established in 1997 after a successful independence war against the Soviet Union.[c] NATO discovers that Zanzibarland's leaders plan to hold the world hostage by controlling the supply of oil through OILIX and nuclear warheads pillaged from old stockpiles marked for dismantling in light of global efforts toward nuclear disarmament. FOXHOUND's new commander, Roy Campbell, brings Solid Snake out of retirement and sends him to Zanzibarland to rescue Dr. Marv on Christmas Eve 1999.

Over the course of his mission, Snake teams up with Holly White, a CIA operative posing as a journalist, and Gustava Heffner, an StB agent and Dr. Marv's bodyguard. He is also reunited with Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, the Metal Gear inventor from Outer Heaven, who claims to have been once again kidnapped and forced to work on another Metal Gear project (named Metal Gear D) for Zanzibarland, as well as oversee mass-production of smaller, non-nuclear-equipped Metal Gear units. Snake learns from Dr. Madnar that Big Boss, Snake's former superior, survived the events of the first game and now leads Zanzibarland.

As Snake, Heffner, and Dr. Madnar head toward Zanzibarland's main prison, Heffner is killed by a missile fired by Metal Gear D and Dr. Madnar is recaptured by the enemy. The new Metal Gear's pilot is revealed to be Gray Fox. Determined to finish his mission, Snake fights against Zanzibarland's elite mercenary force and manages to reach Dr. Marv's cell.

Snake arrives too late, as he finds Dr. Marv's corpse and the OILIX data. Holly later tips him off that he actually died under Dr. Madnar's torture. In addition, Snake learns that Madnar volunteered his services to Zanzibarland to finish work on Metal Gear as revenge against the scientific community shunning him after the events of the first game. Snake incapacitates Madnar when the latter attempts to attack him.

Snake faces off against Gray Fox in Metal Gear D and eventually destroys the mech. Both men later fight hand-to-hand in a minefield, and Snake finishes him off. As he tries to escape, Snake meets Big Boss. Having lost his equipment and with no weapons at his disposal, Snake is forced to improvise using the only items he can find: a lighter and aerosol can. Fashioning a makeshift flamethrower, Snake defeats Big Boss for the second time. Snake and Holly escape together, and they deliver the OILIX formula to Campbell.


After the release of the Famicom/NES version of Metal Gear, Konami commissioned the development of its sequel, Snake's Revenge, without the consent of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima.[8][10] According to Kojima's account of the events, he did not have any plans to develop a Metal Gear sequel at the time. He was unaware that Snake's Revenge was being produced until he became acquainted with a member of the development team on a train ride in Tokyo. The employee briefed him on some details of the project and asked him to create a true sequel. By the end of the train ride, Kojima had already envisioned the basic premise for the game. After being given the go-ahead by his bosses at Konami the next day, he began developing Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake with the MSX division of Konami.[10] Metal Gear 2 serves as a follow-up to the original Metal Gear, ignoring the events of Snake's Revenge (which was unreleased in Japan), and every canonical Metal Gear title released afterward acknowledge only the events of Metal Gear 2, relegating Snake's Revenge to an apocryphal status.


Snake's portrait in the original MSX2 version (left) and in the re-released version.

The game was released in Japan on July 20, 1990. Unlike the first game, which had an English version produced for the European market, the MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2 was never officially released outside Japan, though a fan translation was produced in 1997 by an MSX hobbyist group.[11]

A version of Metal Gear 2 for mobile phones was released in Japan on October 1, 2004, for the i-mode, EZweb, and Vodafone services prior to the release of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater through the Konami Net DX[ja] service. This was the first time the game was ported to another platform since its original MSX2 release. In 2005, Konami released an expanded edition of Metal Gear Solid 3 subtitled Subsistence, which included, among other new content, remade versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. The release of Subsistence in North America and the PAL region marked the first time Metal Gear 2 received an official international release. This version is also included in the HD Edition of Metal Gear Solid 3 released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011 and for PlayStation Vita in 2012.

The re-released version of Metal Gear 2 features the following changes from the original MSX2 version: the character portraits (which were largely based on film actors and historical figures) were replaced with new ones drawn in a style similar to Yoji Shinkawa's work in the Metal Gear Solid series, certain characters (including enemy bosses) were renamed, and Snake's cigarettes now deplete his life gauge when equipped (resulting in the addition of thermal goggles as an alternative item for viewing infrared sensors). The re-released version also has two difficulty settings: Original and Easy, the latter allows the player to carry twice the amount of ammo and perishable items and makes some of the bosses easier to defeat. A "Boss Survival" mode is also accessible after the main game is cleared once, and an unlockable bandana item that provides Snake with unlimited ammo when equipped.

The PlayStation 2 version, much like the original MSX2 version, requires the use of tap codes to solve certain puzzles (most notably Dr. Madnar's frequency number, which is required to proceed through the game). Because the manual for the North American version did not include a tap code deciphering chart, Konami posted the solutions to all the puzzles involving the use of tap codes in an FAQ page on their official website.[12] Metal Gear 2 was released for the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on March 30, 2010. The Virtual Console version is emulated from a ROM image of the original MSX2 game that has been modified to feature the same revised character designs and names from other re-releases.


The game's music was written by Konami Kukeiha Club members Tsuyoshi Sekito, Masahiro Ikariko, Mutsuhiko Izumi, Yuko Kurahashi, Tomoya Tomita, Kazuhiko Uehara, and Yuji Takenouchi. The cartridge for the MSX2 version carried a custom sound chip, the SCC (previously employed in games such as Nemesis 2 and Snatcher), which enhanced the music and sound effects beyond the MSX's basic capabilities.

Arranged music based on Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was used for the VR training disc in Metal Gear Solid: Integral (which was released in North America as Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions). Additionally, Integral features two hidden tunes based on Metal Gear 2 available via a secret codec frequency in the main game. One is an arranged version of the "Theme of Solid Snake", while the other is an arrangement of "Zanzibar Breeze" (both listenable by contacting CODEC frequency 140.66 in certain locations). "Theme of Solid Snake" also made an appearance in Nintendo's 2008 crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl.


During its initial release, Metal Gear 2 was ranked on MSX Magazine's Top 30 best selling MSX games list for six months, premiering at the no. 1 spot on the October 1990 issue. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake would later receive near universal-acclaim by retro game reviewers. According to Paul Soth of GameSpy, the game surpassed its predecessor Metal Gear in every way. In addition to praising the gameplay, he also praised the game's "gripping, well written storyline" for its "rich characterization" and its "same quality of storytelling that made MGS so compelling." He concluded that players will not be disappointed by "the great gameplay and story," and that it remains "one of the best 8 bit games ever made."[8] Game Informer was more critical of the game, however, giving it a 7 out of 10. They wrote that in order to reach the most pivotal moments in the game's story, "you must endure some of the most ridiculous situations Solid Snake has ever seen," and that "the game's focus on constant backtracking and keycard acquisition makes it too repetitive." They concluded that "only diehard fans will find the experience rewarding" and that the best way to play the game is through the bonus disc of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.[13]

The game mechanics of its sequel Metal Gear Solid, despite its transition to 3D, remained largely similar to its 2D predecessor[14] and included plot summaries of the first two MSX2 games (accessible in the Special mode under "Previous Operations"). As such, Retro Gamer regarded Metal Gear 2 to be "as close as anyone can get to playing Metal Gear Solid in 2D", putting it above the Game Boy Color game released a decade later in 2000.[9] Retro Gamer also included it among top ten MSX games.[15] Jeremy Parish of referred to Metal Gear Solid as "basically a high-spec remake of Metal Gear 2."[16] Nickolai Adkins of 1UP also noted how much of the scenario and plot elements in Metal Gear 2 were recycled in Metal Gear Solid, ranging from "Snake emerging from retirement to rescue a kidnapped non-soldier personnel" in the beginning to "an escape sequence where Snake is accompanied by his female accomplice/love interest" at the end.[17]


  1. ^ Known in Japan as Metaru Gia Tsū Soriddo Sunēku (メタルギア2 ソリッドスネーク, "Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake"). Some Japanese publications, such as MSX Magazine and MSX FAN, as well as the spine for the soundtrack album, uses Solid Snake over Metal Gear 2 as the main title, listing it as ソリッドスネーク メタルギア2 or simply ソリッドスネーク.
  2. ^ The in-game dialogue establishes that events in the original game occurred three years before,[4][5][6] but portions of the manual places the events of the "Outer Heaven dispute" to 1995 (four years prior).[7] The later Metal Gear Solid games use the latter date.
  3. ^ The plot summary in Metal Gear Solid replaces all references to the Soviet Union with the CIS.


  1. ^ "MSX Magazine" (1990–08). ASCII: 25–26. 
  2. ^ "メタルギア2 ソリッドスネーク". Konami. Retrieved 2015-06-13. 
  3. ^ Konami. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. MSX2. Level/area: Front packaging. 
  4. ^ Konami. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. MSX2/PS2. Dr. Madnar: "そう・・・METAL GEARじゃよ。SNAKE。あるのじゃ、あれが・・・ここに。 あたらしいMETAL GEARはすでにカンセイしておる。3年前、あんたがハカイしたのはたんなるシサクヒン・・・ [Yes... Metal Gear. Snake, it is here... In Zanzibar Land. They've already completed a new Metal Gear. The one you destroyed three years ago was only a prototype...] 
  5. ^ Konami. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. MSX2/PS2. Kasler: "3年前のOUTER HEAVENカンラクでかれはヒン死のジュウショウをおった [Three years ago, when Outer Heaven fell, Big Boss was seriously wounded.] 
  6. ^ Konami. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. MSX2/PS2. Snake: "オレは3年間とりついているアクムをはらいにきた。 [I came to get rid of the nightmares I've been having for the past three years.]" 
  7. ^ Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake User's Manual (in Japanese). Konami. pp. 29, 35. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Paul Soth. "GOTW: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  9. ^ a b Retro Gamer (15), 2005, p. 32  [1]
  10. ^ a b Steven Kent. "Hideo Kojima: Game Guru, Movie Maniac". Archived from the original on 2005-11-03. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  11. ^ "English Metal Gear 2 Development Committee". G&T Soft. Retrieved 2014-09-04. 
  12. ^ "METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SUBSISTENCE - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS". Konami. Archived from the original on 2006-04-23. Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  13. ^ Game Informer (190), 2009, p. 94 
  14. ^ "Metal Gear Solid". IGN. Retrieved October 22, 2006. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Parish, Jeremy (February 17, 2012). "Metal Gear Solid 3: The Boss of Stealth Action Games". Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Adkins, Nickolai (January 31, 2012). "Lost in Translation? A look at the digital re-dux and the trends that inspire them". Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 

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