Review by Tariq Marshall
"This game is quite possibly the only reason to buy an MSX."
Few Americans have heard of this game, created by the legendary game designer Hideo Kojima, and frankly, that saddens me. This elusive game (only released in Japan unfortunately) is the true sequel to the international blockbuster, Metal Gear- the critically-acclaimed espionage thriller that hit the MSX/Famicom/NES, and changed gaming altogether, in the late '80s. Most believe that Snake's Revenge (see my review of that game at this site) was the ''true'' sequel to Metal Gear, but it wasn't. Hideo Kojima's most highly sought after masterpiece, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, was the genuine sequel to it, yet most of the world never got a chance to experience it...
Story: The year is 1999, the Cold War is over and a settling down of local conflicts has occurred. Frigid relationships between large nations like The United States and Russia and China and Russia are finally beginning to thaw out; world peace is on the rise again. However, a small republic just next to Russia, China, and Arab Nations- called Zanzibar Land- founds a military government. It begins raiding ''Nuclear Arms for Disposal Storage'' sites around the world and performs non-discriminate invasions of nearby countries making it the world's only nuclear-armed nation. Zanzibar Land's nuclear power is becoming a real emergency and a nuclear threat is budding once again.
At the same time, oil resources are quickly growing scarce and the world is facing an energy source crisis with no alternative supply of oil.
Then a Czech biologist named Kio Marv creates a micro-specimen called OILIX that rectifies high quality oil. The world is once again in a tension regarding OILIX.
Dr. Marv is soon kidnapped by Zanzibarian rebels on his trip from Czechoslovakia to America. With unique nuclear force and OILIX, Zanzibar Land is unstoppable.
Superiors call upon Solid Snake, retired Foxhounder, to infiltrate Zanzibar Land and rescue Dr. Marv along with the OILIX plans. ~Overall score: 10/10~
Gameplay: The game's controls are superb and easy to learn. Controlling Snake on an MSX keyboard, which might seem hard, is quite simple. Snake's new crawling/ crouching ability was also a great add-on feature. It can help you escape enemies by enabling Snake to hide under objects or to just keep quiet while traversing ''sound-emitting'' terrain. Just make sure that an enemy does not spot you right before you crawl under something or else they surround you and wait for you to emerge. The guards of Zanzibar Land are tougher than the ones in Metal Gear 1, for they now have 45-degree-wide angles of vision, hence, you're more likely to get spotted by the enemy if you're not careful. The intricate and compelling human drama between characters will keep you, the player, hooked to the game and motivated to continue playing it. The difficulty level is pretty high and the game can be tough at times, but it won't likely frustrate you since you can most likely complete your task in a few tries. Although this game is based on stealth, there are a few action-filled sequences (i.e. boss fights, tower chase) that will challenge you to the extreme. Some of the tasks may leave you clueless as to what to do or where to go, but there's a ''completable'' solution to each. Overall, the gameplay is flawless. ~Overall score: 10/10~
Audio/Video: The MIDI soundtrack for this game is excellent. Each piece of music fits each situation perfectly. In fact, the music for this game is some of the best I've ever heard; even better than the music for some of today's PSX or N64 titles. The sound effects are damn good for the time this game was created (1990) and sound nothing like those old 8-bit sounds from back in the day (even though I love those 8-bit sounds, they wouldn't fit this game). And the characters' mugs, shown through either Snake's transceiver or during conversations, look impressively realistic for an MSX game. With the graphics the way they are and the audio the way it is, it's hard to believe that this is an MSX game (I'm not trying to deprecate MSXs, otherwise I wouldn't have bought one. This game just doesn't look like an MSX title). ~Overall score: 10/10~
Replayability: Since I bought this game a couple of months ago (it was difficult finding it since I live in the U.S.), I have probably played it through about 20 times. Yes, it's that good. I love playing this game through and through- I can't get enough of it. The suspense, the theme, the plot, and the music are all too good to be true. Once you get a hold of this game (good luck finding though), you'll never stop playing it.
~Overall score: 10/10~
To buy or not to buy, that is your question: My suggestion, get it. You will not regret it. But, if you prefer games that don't have intriguing plots and are all action with mundane themes that are too familiar- don't get it. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is one of the most ingenuitive games out there. It has a perfect blend of action, suspense, well-developed characters, and true drama. The only problem with playing the game is that it's in Japanese- the text; everything. So unless you are a collector of sorts or can read Japanese, you're better off getting the English-translated version on the web. Plus it's very difficult to locate this game- even if you live in Japan where it was originally released. I spent about two years looking for it, until I actually found a complete copy of it on a great website called superfami.com (that's also it's URL). Also, the price may be pretty steep for some people. I purchased it for $300.00- it's really that rare. But if you you're lucky enough to find a copy of it, have an MSX, can read Japanese and have the money, you'll be extremely happy. Otherwise, get the English-translated fMSX version on the web. Either way, though, make sure you don't miss out on this game that I like to call ''Hideo Kojima's intuitive breakthrough''.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 07/13/01, Updated 07/13/01
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