Game Cover
©Konami 1987
Release: 1987-12-22 (¥5300)
Cartdridge KDS-ME

American Version
Released in America as

European Version
Released in Europe as
Metal Gear is a stealth/military action game published by Konami, and conversion of a game originally released for the MSX 2 in 1987. In 1995, somewhere in South Africa, the military fortress Outer heaven is hiding a super weapon called the 'Metal Gear', formidable machine capable of launching nuclear missiles and to strike any target in the world. A rookie infiltration soldier codenamed Solid Snake is deployed by Foxhound, a secret special forces unit from the western world, to locate and destroy the war machine and to find out what happened to Gray Fox, another agent who had been sent thither before him. However, his mission comes with a twist - he must covertly infiltrate Outer heaven and try his best to avoid direct confrontation with his enemies. Because of the stealth nature of the game, Solid Snake will instantly be in trouble if spotted by guards or surveillance cameras. If discovered, the player has to leave the visited area as quickly as possible until the alert level is lifted. He also doesn't come equipped with any weapons at first, and he must build up his arsenal along the way and collect firearms, remote guided missiles or explosives. The game also offers a plethora of items, such as binoculars (to explore surrounding rooms), gaz mask, rations (to retrieve some health) and key cards that allow the player to access certain areas that are otherwise locked and off-limits. Throughout the game, Solid Snake is also headed by his commanding officer Big Boss - a transceiver constantly feeds the player with critical information about Outer Heaver and the game's intricate story.
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Metal Gear MSX Hideo Kojima is the mind behind the critically acclaimed Metal Gear series and its intricate story line. The first Metal Gear was released in Japan and Europe for the MSX in 1987 (picture on the right), and was later ported to the Famicom (1987), Commodore 64 (1990) and PC-DOS (1990). However, it seems that Hideo Kojima was not directly involved in the development of the various ports, and especially the Famicom version which was significantly altered. Snake's Revenge followed in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (it was exclusively released in the US and Europe) - this sequel is however not really related to the series and Hideo Kojima wasn't part of the design and development process. The real sequel, called Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was exclusively released in Japan for the MSX in 1990 and takes place four years after the original game (it was later included in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence released for the Playstation 2 in 2005). The series then transitioned to 3D with Metal Gear Solid (Playstation, 1998) which borrowed many gameplay elements from the original Metal Gear 2. The series is still incredibly strong and many sequels followed - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (Playstation 2, 2001), Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (Playstation 2, 2004), Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (Playstation Portable, 2006), Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (Playstation 2, 2008) and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (Playstation Portable, 2010). Several spin-offs, remakes and extended versions also exist, such as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel (GameBoy Advance, 2000), Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (Playstation 2, 2002), Metal Gear Solid : The Twin Snakes (Game Cube, 2004), Metal Gear Acid (Playstation portable, 2004) and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (Playstation 2, 2005).

There are several differences between the Famicom port of Metal Gear (version tested here) and the original MSX version. The beginning of the game is totally different - in the Famicom version, Solid Snake parachutes into a maze-like jungle area, whereas he directly infiltrates the enemy building in the MSX version and deploys by sea. The Famicom game is overall a lot more difficult, some buildings have been shuffled around as well as items and weapons, and some events are a lot more random - trucks transport the player from one location to another, and the jungle phase loops in many places. Enemies could also track the player down beyond the visited screen and this feature was removed from the Famicom port. The most notable difference is also the underlying goal of the game - players had to battle the Metal Gear itself at the end of the MSX version, whereas they had to destroy a Super Computer which controls the Metal Gear in the Famicom port. Finally, in the North American and European versions, many of the character names were changed - Big Boss became Commander South, and the enigmatic leader of the Outer heaven secret army was given the spoof name 'Vermon CaTaffy' (pun on Lybian leader Muammar Al-Qaddafi) - the story in the game's manual was deeply altered, Konami's Ultra publishing company took considerable (and rather childish) liberties with the original Japanese source material, where Vermon Cataffy is described as "a once tranquil shepard boy, who grew up on the remote banks of the Sam Sam River in outer Mongolia with his 27 sisters, turned to terrorism at an early age"... What were they thinking ?

Kyle Reese - Terminator Hideo Kojima, the Metal Gear series' designer and one of the most influential figures in the video game industry, is an avowed action movie fan, and countless references to '80s/'90s Hollywood movies can be found in his work. Hideo Kojima confirmed in an interview that the character Snake was inspired by Snake Plissken (Kurt Russel) from John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981). In Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake chooses Iroquois Pliskin as an alias name, and one of the possible origins of the name Iroquois was a french transliteration of a native American name that meant 'adder' or 'Black Snake'. Snatcher - Metal Gear Metal Gear cover art is also most likely inspired by the character Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn, picture on the left) from James Cameron's Terminator (1984) - well, it wasn't uncommon for Konami to follow such practice in the '90s. Most of the characters from Metal Gear 2 were also based on popular celebrities such as Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren and Sean Connery. Finally, Metal Gear is referenced in other games designed by Hideo Kojima - in Snatcher, the little navigator robot who follows Gillian Seed is called 'Metal Gear Mk.II' (it will also appear in Metal Gear Solid 4), and Outer Heaven is the name of a night club in the game (picture on the right). In Policenauts, another cinematic adventure game by Hideo Kojima, the character Meryl Silverburg is a member of the special forces unit Foxhound, and inspired the character of the same name from Metal Gear Solid, and a bar called the 'Solid Snake' can be seen in the game.

Metal Gear Konami Cards
Japanese Konami Card Japanese Konami Card Japanese Konami Card Japanese Konami Card
Japanese Konami Card Japanese Konami Card

Konami Cards Like several other early Konami games released in the 1980s/1990s, Metal Gear included a numbered collector card also known in Japan as コナミ キャラカード (aka 'Konami Chara Cards' or 'Konami Character Cards'). Each card featured an illustration or a snapshot from the game (picture on the right), and the back of each card showed a serial number as well as the game's title. They were randomly included with the games and Konami produced several variations of each card. That's it, each game included a card from a series related to the game, it is however not known how many different card variations were made for each game. Apparently six cards (on average) were produced for each game, except for Doremikko (1 card), Exciting Boxing (1 card) and Meikyujin Dababa (which, curiously, only seem to feature five cards). The list of Konami games to include such cards are believed to be : Ai Senshi Nicol (FDS), Dracula II Noroi no Fuin (FDS), Arumana no Kiseki (FDS), Contra (FC), Doremikko (FDS), Dragon Scroll (FC), Exciting Baseball (FDS), Exciting Basketball (FDS), Exciting Billard (FDS), Exciting Boxing (FDS), Exciting Soccer (FDS), Falsion (FDS), Getsu Fūma Den (FC), Majō Densetsu II Daimashikyō Galious(FC), Meikyū Jiin Dababa (FDS), Metal Gear (FC), Salamander (FC), Tetsuwan Atom (FC), Top Gun (FC) and Wai Wai World (FC).

Teaser text copied from the American version:
Crazed colonel Vermon Cataffy poses new terrorist threat to the world.
Outer Heaven leader Ca Taffy has activated the ultimate super weapon: Metal Gear! Responding to the crisis, covert unit "Fox Hound" is called into action, and that's where you come into play. Trained in hand-to-hand combat and skilled in every weapon known to man, you're Fox Hound's lethal fighting machine, code named "Solid Snake". But on this mission you better be sly as well, to surprise heavily armed enemies, busting'em up quietly and rescuing their hostages before alarms are triggered. Plus you gotta maintain radio contact with Commander South, who'll feed you crucial info on Metal Gear's whereabouts. To survive, capture sub-machine guns, Barettas, grenade launchers, and plastic explosives... Until you find and destroy Metal gear, ending Ca Taffy's reign of terror.

Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :

Main Program
Yoshihiro Sugimoto
Sub Program
Masahiro Ueno

Graphic Design
Conpagno Ogikubo
Sound Effect
Kazuki Muraoka
Presented by
1987 Tokyo

Japanese Guidebook
Japanese Guidebook
Japanese Guidebook
American Novel Book


Metal Gear manual Advertising
Click on picture to enlarge

Alert level glitch:
When the alarm goes on, just switch to the equipment screen and equip the binoculars to lift the alert level.

Ammo and rations:
Weapons ammo and rations don't disappear once they have been collected. Keep entering and exiting a truck/room for a complete refill. You can also switch to the transceiver screen to reset the items in a room.

This is not really a secret, but this part of the game is rather obscure. The rank/class increases as you rescue prisoners/hostages. The number of stars influences your maximum life, ammo and rations. But most importantly, it affects checkpoints and where you start the game after you continue :
☆ Jungle
☆☆ First building
☆☆☆ First building's elevator
☆☆☆☆ Back of the first building

Add your Pov here !

The Metal Gear series is legendary, and this first episode features many of the unique gameplay mechanics that have made the series a cult hit (it merits mentioning that I am a diehard fan of the series). The stealth nature of the game is, I think, plain genius and gives the game (and the series) a realistic look and feel not found on any action shooters at the time (and even rarely today). However, Hideo Kojima wasn't directly involved with this Famicom port, and the game doesn't live up to the standards of the MSX original. It is overall a lot more difficult and poised with a few annoying gameplay flaws - such as frustrating checkpoints, random mazes and a questionable equipment system (having to unequip the gaz mask in order to use a keycard being the worst offender). Although the MSX version was a much better game overall, this Famicom port is still a finely crafted and excellent conversion.

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